Sitting in Starbucks
Sitting in Starbucks trying to write, but not so easy. Next to me is a man working hard to fleece another man of his money. He likes to use the word billion a lot. He is clearly alpha male. “Yahoo is buying back its stock, 1/7th. Very exciting. Ali Baba, Blabla.” The other man wonders if 1/7th is a lot. Yes, it is.
The victim estimates: “12%?”
“No, 14%” answers the expert.
Victim thinks maybe he should buy some.
“You don’t have the facilities to do it the right way, bla, bla. I want you to make money. How much cash do you have now, how much do you have coming in, how much do you want to make?”
Other guy has some 56k USD, plus money coming in from oil leases, he says.
“What sort of oil, regular or shale?” Expert wants to know.
“Where, what basin, is it the Permian basin? There are different basins you know.”
I’m trying not to groan. You can see the net being laid, the sting coming down. Victim didn’t shave this morning. This is small potatoes going down, 50k or 100k maybe is my guess, what’s left after forty years of hard work at a good job, two children and one bad divorce. This final loss of savings will hurt. My heart breaks. But what chance do I have to stop this car accident from happening?
Expert’s phone rings.
“Anything important I need to know?”
“25 million coming in? What is the net? Are we converting? What is the price now?”
“78%, give me the ratio.”
WTF? I’m typing as they are talking. Mofo. I was thinking for just a moment that maybe I am the crazy guy, and this whole predator-prey thing is all in my mind.
“I want to buy 22,000 at 8.6, also get me 12,000 bla bla.”
Expert is done talking to his maid (at least that is what I think). Hangs up.
Turns back to victim: “What do you think of the real estate situation in Bangkok.”
Victim mumbles some generalities.
Of course expert’s question is not a question. It is an excuse to start throwing numbers around. “Millions and billions, and etc. Opportunities. Great chance for a smart person willing to be quick.”
Never a dull moment in Bangkok. But I have to make decisions on which girl to go for this afternoon, what friend to have a drink with, how productive to be this morning, and writing a submission for Stickman is not helping. I went to Starbucks to get away from the wi-fi in my room so I could write and finish some stuff. Not happening.
Stickman needs 800 words, so here is some more. A few months ago I was lunching by myself at the Marriott, doing the buffet, making sure to eat enough for dinner too. In comes this character. English maybe. Starts talking to me about how he was robbed the night before at Nana Plaza, took his wallet, his phone, everything. Of course he knows he made a mistake going there. He only went out of curiosity and was unpleasantly shocked by what he saw as he is sure I understand.
What’s up with that? I look so innocent that he feels he needs to adjust his scam? How does he know I’m not one of those red-faced, drunken, sweating, crotch sniffing enthusiasts? Actually I am. But I’m just blessed with looking normally like a rather reserved gentleman who suffers a tad under the increasing uncouthness of this world. Anyway, my new friend is not asking me for money. He just would like to use my phone so he can call a friend to help. (Why doesn’t he use his hotel phone? Why doesn’t he ask the girls at reception to make a call for him?) I tell him ‘No’ and I raise my head a little, scanning the room, communicating that a complaint about him is in the offing. He toddles off.
Land of Scams. No kidding. Let’s see. His friend doesn’t answer the phone. No, better. His friend’s wife answers the phone and says that his friend will be back in a few minutes and will call back. Now he has to wait for the call back on my phone. Now he has a little hook in me. He has no money. A friend will call back on my phone. Maybe I should offer him a cup of coffee? His friend calls. What a relief. Now he just needs money for the taxi to go to his friend where he can stay and get replacement cash. Undoubtedly his friend’s house is huge, a very successful businessman, the sort of connection I can use.
Land of Scams. There is a book there somewhere. Actually I think there is a pile of books in Stickman’s files. Stickman is selling advertisements while sitting on a pile of gold. Just a matter of picking top thirty submissions on different topics and tying them together with a good intro. Should publish on Amazon or Lulu, collecting 60% royalties or whatever it is. Stickman’s the literary equivalent of reality TV. It’s not the best literature, but it’s the most interesting literature. Content is king in the new economy. Let’s see. International bestseller:
She Done Me Wrong in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket too. (research shows books with place names in the title sell much better)
Travel Adventures in the Land of Smiles
White Women are Fat Bitches (they are not, of course, but we're trying to sell books here, not doing comparative anthropology)
Trials and Tribulations of Phet: One man’s quest for survival in a world that doesn’t want him anymore.
On the Road in the Third World
Writings of Dana: The New York (place name sells more) Literary Prize Winning Collection of Poetry and Philosophy for Lovers of Skanky, Aids-Ridden, Third World Whores Who Take It Up the ___.
And probably five or ten others.
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