Stickman Readers' Submissions July 1st, 2013

Breakfast at 8 PM

I am a 36-year old man from a small kingdom called Bhutan, about 4 hours flight from Thailand. I have been to Thailand a number of times, all work related, and this submission relates to August 2011 when I was in Bangkok for a 2-week visit to the Thai Senate. I was a little over the halfway mark of the scheduled visit when this incident happened.

On 29th September, I was scheduled to visit the Office of the Ombudsman at 10 AM. A certain Miss T from the Senate Secretariat would meet me at 9 AM, and be my escort for the day, since Mr. K, my usual main man had some other errands to attend to. Now while Mr. K’s command over English was quite good for a Thai, an average Thai taxi driver could speak English better than Miss T. And my Thai was and is almost nonexistent.

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Let me go back to the evening of the 28th. I ate some noodles in the hotel restaurant, the name of which I can’t remember, and the taste of which I couldn’t describe, went up to my room, turned on the TV, and having had a tiring work day, fell asleep.

I woke up feeling very well rested. The time was 7.55. I had a quick shower, got properly attired for another official day, and went down to the restaurant for breakfast. I ordered the first item on the breakfast menu which I think some call an English breakfast minus the eggs (I confess I don’t really know what an English breakfast is, and I am allergic to eggs). The waiter / waitress (a Thai ladyboy: I was told they are legally men, and socially women) asked me “Sir, you want breakfast?” and I said “Yes please, thank you”. “You want hot coffee also” he/she asked, and I said “Yes”.

As I was walking towards the Senate, which was a 15 – 20 minute walk from my hotel, I saw that it was still pretty dark, and the sun had not broken through the clouds. I thought well, it’s a bit foggy. It was just a week or so before the massive flood in Bangkok, so overcast skies were the norm during my visit. And I remembered my first day in Australia, where I went for my advanced degree studies, when the sun refused to set at 8 PM, and I had to be assured by a few Aussies that the sun normally set around 8.30 during Australian summers. I reached the Senate at 8.55 and waited by the main gate, where Miss T would pick me up.

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Having understood that the Thais are not the most punctual of individuals during the previous few days, I was not worried when she failed to turn up at 9.10, but decided to call her anyway. Both my wristwatch and mobile phone clock read 9.10, but I still decided to ask the policeman at the gate. He assured me it was 9. When she answered, I asked her whether I should wait by the main Parliament gate or in front of the Senate Secretariat. She said the main gate. I got this SMS a few seconds later “Sorry to answer late, I’m washing clothes for tomorrow and charging mobile”. And I SMSd back, “No problem. What time will you be here? I am waiting at the entrance gate”.

I didn’t get a response, and by 9.25, during which I must have smoked a half dozen cigarettes, I thought she was very late even by Thai standards. So I called her again and asked what time she was picking me up. She said around 9 in the morning. That’s when I started feeling funny, really funny. Anyway, I said ok, and that I will wait. And then I got her SMS which said, “I’ll come about 8.30 to catch car to pick up you on time 9 o’clock at entrance gate”. I checked my wrist watch again, it was 9.30. Checked my mobile, and saw that it was 9.30. But 9.30 pm of the 28th of September. Feeling stupid, I SMSd back “Ok. See you tomorrow. Good night”, and got back “Have nice dream”.

I walked back to my hotel, feeling like an idiot, which I probably was. And I kept telling myself “You are the biggest, most stupid dickhead in the world at this moment in time”. Well, I had breakfast at 8 pm, didn’t I? That experience was surreal and one of my most memorable, and I feel stupid every time I remember it.

Stickman's thoughts:

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I bet you're not the only one this has happened to.

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