Stickman Readers' Submissions July 30th, 2013

A Story Of Everyday Life In Bangkok

On Sunday 28 July 2013 I went into a certain sports bar on soi 13. Advertised outside was a Sunday roast lunch.

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When the waitress came to me I asked which meats. She did not know. She stood there. I glanced through the menu but there was nothing which would answer my question. I said I needed to know in order to choose. She went away and later came back and told me pork or beef. She was not sure if beef came with Yorkshire pudding or not. I asked if the pork came with crackling. Yes, she said. OK, I said, that is good. Bring it please. But listen, I don't eat onion. It makes me ill, mai sabai. Does the meal have onion? No, she said. I repeated it in Thai: mai shai hom. Hua hom. Don hom. Kin mai dai. Kaojai mai? Yes, she said, smiling, appearing to have taken it in. Ok! I said. I am relying on you. No onion. OK, she said.

I then asked her what the happy hour price was for Tiger draught. She did not know and went away to ask. She came back after a while with my cutlery. She had not asked about the happy hour price. She looked in the menu but could not find the prices for drinks. While she had been away I had looked at the menu and as normal the drinks prices were at the back of the card, at the end. So I had found it immediately. I wondered if she had ever been in a bar. Eventually she showed me the price of the beer on the menu. I repeated my question. What is the happy hour price? She said it is happy hour until 7 PM. I asked "is it happy hour now?" Yes, she said. Good, I said. What is the happy hour price for Tiger draught? She did not know. I said never mind, just bring me the beer. …

When she brought me the meal it was beef. I reminded her I had asked if the pork came with crackling and when she said yes, I had said good, I'll have it. Oh, she said, pulling her head back like a gormless chicken walking around the farmyard with very little brain. Clearly she did not have a clue about anything and was not paying any attention to what she was supposed to be doing.

After a brief pause I decided I was so peed off with her, I just accepted the beef and decided to never return to this place during the few weeks I will be in Bangkok, or indeed, if I remember, at all. It is well enough away from the beaten track that you could easily give it a miss without noticing. Many times I say T.I.T. but this young woman was the most hopeless piece of uselessness I had encountered over the last ten years and more while I have been in this beautiful country.

It was clear she had received zero training, or at least had paid no attention to it, but as a waitress you would have thought she'd have taken the trouble to find out a bit about what food and drink she would be serving, if only to give her a bit more self-confidence. But probably she had acquired that already by working in other restaurants before being dismissed from them for being so unconcerned about doing her job in any remotely efficient way. Looking in the mirror each morning may have given her enough satisfaction; she did not need job satisfaction as well.

The meal? Well, putting it kindly, I did not get much for my money. As to the "selection of vegetables", other than potatoes they consisted of a small head of broccoli and some small pieces of a carrot. I am sure I will be hungry again in an hour. Nice to have some Yorkshire pudding though.

Verdict. Nice airy bar. Pleasant modern decor. Relaxing ambience. Good pool tables. Plenty of TV screens. Not too noisy to interfere with conversation in the least. Several beers on draught. Beer reasonably priced – but, incidentally, more than four times what I was paying in Phnom Penh earlier in the week. However, for half a dozen reasons that you can extrapolate from this summary, this is the last place in Bangkok where you would want to eat.

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One last observation. Afterwards I was left in my mouth with that unique taste, I don't know where it came from, that made it clear to me I had most definitely been eating onion.

And I did NOT get a happy hour price for my beer. Mai pen rai. We all have to learn afresh all the time. Nothing in Thailand is ever, ever, the same.

Stickman's thoughts:

I'm sorry to hear of this and while I have not been in that particular bar – at least not in that location – I can relate.

Several years ago most British pubs in Bangkok were not just a little oasis of tranquility where we could feel comfortable in familiar surroundings, watch our favourite English sports, eat good farang food but also get decent service. Pretty much everywhere the service was decent.

With the demand for staff so great these days, many who used to work as service staff in British pubs have gone on to bigger and better things. A couple of staff from The Londoner, for example, went on to work at the New York Steakhouse in the JW Marriott Hotel. Staff from other British pubs have been showing up at other 5-star properties around town. Back at their old places of employment they have been replaced by people whose English is often barely non-existent and who just don't seem suited to the role. The problem is, there's so much demand for decent staff that the pubs and sports bars don't pay well enough to attract the quality they used to.

On the job training in Thailand? Not sure I have ever heard of that. Thais are good at many things, but training is not one of them.

Please don't take this to mean that I am defending what happened at the pub you ate at, more that this problem is widespread these days. Where service in many mid-range venues used to be pretty decent, these days it's often pretty poor!


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