Fisking An Ugly American
From Wikipedia: The term fisking is blogosphere slang describing a point-by-point criticism that highlights perceived errors, or disputes the analysis in a statement, article, or essay. Eric S. Raymond, in the Jargon File, defined the term as "a point-by-point refutation of a blog entry or (especially) news story.
I've been living happily in Thailand for almost two years now. I am one of those guys who really loves Thailand, and the Thai people.
Except you go on to trot out all the old racist nonsense about the Thais. Hang on, it’s coming.
Never been happier in my whole life. Just 3 days ago I was driving into the new local shopping mall here. I was going there to have lunch. There are dozens of incredible restaurants, Japanese to Korean to Thai hot pot, and buffet. Just a great selection. So, I turn in to the shopping mall's private entranceway – a 4-lane road, 2 lanes going each way, each lane being delineated by a dotted line in the middle thus separating the two lanes going in the same direction. I'm in the very left lane going in, and there's another car in the right lane. A little further down the road is a right-hand turn. The driver in the right hand lane then turns and drives into my lane, almost smashing into my car.
Actually the lanes are merging and the other car was in front. It had right of way. It wasn’t his lane at all. This will be explained later.
No signal, nothing. I toot my horn and slam on my brakes and barely avoid being killed, or at least having my car completely smashed.
No, the cars were going fairly slowly. This wasn’t a main highway, it’s the entrance to the shopping mall. They were both heading for a right turn. Nobody was speeding. No one’s life was at risk.
After I toot my horn, the driver doesn't react at all, and doesn't seem to care that he almost killed me, and just continues to drive in my lane.
Again, it wasn’t his lane. The two lanes had merged at this point.
I'm so mad at this point, I followed the car, waited til it parks, then I park my car two parking spots away, and opened my remote control window.
Yes, you were mad, as in angry. You let your emotions get the better of you. And that is no way to behave in Thailand. Ever. Two years isn’t a long time to have lived in Thailand but you should have learned that already. Getting angry never works out well.
I didn't want to get closer, because I didn't know what kind of whacko was driving the car. I couldn't see inside the car because of the tinted glass.
Yes, you wanted to see who was driving before you decided how to react. If it had been a tough looking Thai guy, you would have said nothing and driven off.
At this point a young girl of about 20 rolls down her window at the same time, and I yell, "Hey, you almost killed me. You drove into my lane without looking. Please be careful when you drive!!!" It took all of 5 seconds.
You saw it was a young girl. Half your age? So you decide to let rip. The actions of a bully.
As I raised my window and drove away, I shouted in frustration "Fxxxing unbelievable!!!" Just the New Yorker in me, I guess.
And there is the crux of this. He’s a New Yorker. He’s proud that he behaves like an arrogant bully. I have just returned from a month in New York and I can tell you that New York drivers are the worst I have ever seen. By far. Worse than Thailand, worse than Vietnam, worse than anywhere. I have never seen so many stupid and aggressive drivers. I have never come so close to being killed on the road, never been tailgated so often and never been honked at so aggressively. I have had cars swerve in front of me, behind me, been shouted and sworn at more than anywhere I have ever been before. Mainly women, too. Seriously. But this guy is proud of the fact that he is a New Yorker, proud that he is the sort of man who will swear at a Thai girl half his age.
2 hours later my wife gets a call from the police. She telephones me and tells me I'm in trouble. I tell her what happened. She tells me that the little girl took a picture of my license plate and called the police, and said that I threatened her. I tell my wife that I didn't do that at all. I never even got out of my car. My wife says that she told the police I used the "F" word. Ok, I did.
Yes, you call her a little girl. You knew she was a little girl. Smaller than you and younger than you. You verbally abused what in your own words was ‘a little girl’. You swore aggressively at a girl half your age, If that had been my daughter and I had been there, I would have dealt with you. If it had been my daughter and I hadn’t been there, I would have gone to the police. Abusive bullies need to be dealt with.
But I didn't say 'F U' to her, I just said it as I drove away to let off some steam.
No, I don’t think so. You aimed the abuse at her. If you hadn’t, she wouldn’t have been aware of it. If you were letting off steam, you would have wound the window up and swore as you had driven away. That’s what would have happened if it had been a man driving the other car. But it wasn’t. It was a young girl. As you yourself described her, ‘a little girl’.
The police told my wife that I had to come to the police station 2 days later at 10 AM. Today. As a matter of fact, I just got home and it's 12:15, so the story is fresh in my mind. This morning I wake up, and my wife tells me that she's invited her sister, who's studying abroad (and is home now on summer break) to join us. I tell her that's ridiculous. I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't break any laws. I didn't cause any accidents. Nothing happened.
No, you verbally abused a young girl. A girl, at it transpired, who had done nothing wrong.
Even the police who spoke to my wife said it was a minor incident and they are not too concerned with it.
They were clearly concerned enough to summon you to the police station.
I didn't want to bring an entourage because I didn't want the person who called the police to think I was worried about it. As far as I was concerned it was a minor incident, and I didn't break any laws. Ok, my wife prevails. She says that the more people I have at my side, the better off I am. Who knows who the girl I screamed at is or what level of high society she might belong to. This is Thailand. Better to be safe than sorry. She doesn't want the police to think that I'm some Farang who's married to a bargirl, or just a sexpat retiree.
God forbid. Just a farang who screams abuse at young girls. Oh, and you say she was ‘about 20’. So she could have been a teenager. Which would explain why her father was so concerned. That’s what fathers do. They protect their daughters from bullies.
And since my wife is the public relations manager at a nice hotel here in town (because she speaks English so well), she decides to wear the Thai ceremonial costume (her work clothes) to the police station. So the 3 of us enter the police station at 9:50 AM and are met by a very nice young Thai policeman who speaks English very well and is handling the case. I tell him my story, and he says he completely understands, but he says I need to apologize to the girl for using the 'F' word. It's not polite in Thai society.
It’s not polite anywhere. It’s not even polite in New York. It’s especially not polite when you aim it at a young girl.
Now, you know, Stick, that I've been reading your website religiously since its inception, and I've read dozens if not hundreds of stories about: 'In traffic accidents, the Farang is always wrong'. 'Better to be soft spoken, don't show your emotions, be calm, and the result will be more favorable to you in the long run'. Yes, I know that about Thai society.
Ah, you are an expert on Thai society? No, you’re not. That’s why you got into trouble. You say you have been reading Stickman’s website religiously since its inception. Really? And you didn’t learn that aggression gets you nowhere in Thailand? And that it is never a good idea to swear at Thais. It’s been covered in Stickman’s column many times. Maybe that’s why you waited to see who was driving before you acted? Maybe you knew how a Thai male would react if you swore at him. But you figured that a young girl would be fair game.
And I'm fully prepared to be calm and collected.
Really? Not at the shopping mall you weren’t. The two lanes were merging. All you had to do was to slow and let her move in ahead of you. That would be calm and collected. But you banged on your horn, stalked her in your car and then verbally abused her.
But when the young policeman says that "I" have to apologize, I tell him I'd be happy to, if the girl would apologize to me for not looking where she's going and almost killing me in the car.
No. The worst that would have happened would have been a small collision. But all you had to do was to brake. Unless you weren’t paying attention as you drove into the mall. If you had seen her, all you had to do was apply your brakes. Problem solved.
He smiles at me, and tells me he understands. And from his expression, I'm pretty sure I'm not going to get an apology from that nut case girl who almost killed me.
Ah. You can tell that from his expression? And she’s a nut case? Seriously, so far who has behaved like the nut case?
Then the young policeman tells me that the girl's father is coming down to the police station and will be here shortly. I say Ok, no problem. I'm happy to tell the story to her father. In walks a very well to do Thai. As you can guess right now, it's the girl's father. Not my lucky day.
Ah, it would have been better if a farmer had walked in? It shouldn’t matter who he father was, or who the daughter was. If the father had been working class, would that have given you more of a right to abuse his daughter?
I try to be as calm as I can.
Yes, but you clearly have problems staying calm. That’s what got you into this situation.
Even more so than before, and I tell my story. I even draw a picture of the road with the dotted lines, and the right turn where his daughter almost smashed into my car. He listens to my story, and says "But you used the 'F' word". I say, Yes I did, but not directed at the girl, only as I drove away trying to blow off steam. There is a translator there to help him.
Actually, the translator is there to help you, not the police. You are the foreigner who does not speak the language. You are the one who needs help, not the officer.
The translator used to live in the same city that I lived in for 30 years. The people in that city drive like maniacs, and use the 'F' word every time they get behind the wheel.
Yes, and that is clearly why you behave the way you do. I saw plenty of drivers like you in New York, a dangerous mix of aggression and stupidity. It scared the hell out of me. But unlike you I stayed calm, shrugged and accepted it.
He understands my reaction to the situation, but tells me it was wrong to use the 'F' word. At this point, I'm beginning to get the picture. It doesn't matter that the girl almost killed me by driving her car into my lane without looking.
No, she didn’t come close to killing you. She was ahead of you and she moved over as the lanes. All you had to do was smile and brake.
That doesn't matter at all. It only matters that I used the 'F' word.
Actually, that’s a big thing. It’s big in Thailand and it’s big in most countries. If you use language like that in front of a (teenage?) girl in the UK there’s a reasonable chance the police would charge you with abusive behavior or breach of the peace. At the very least you’d get a warning.
A word that wasn't even directed at her.
If it wasn’t directed at her I doubt she would a) have heard it and b) bothered to take a picture and report it. You frightened her.
At which point I try to say to the interpreter that I wouldn't have used the word if the girl hadn't been so careless driving. I mean, what comes first, the horse or the carriage? In their minds the girl did no wrong. It was my fault. And the policeman even went on to say that the lanes merge at that exact point, so she was in her right to do what she did.
What comes first, the horse or the carriage? The carriage, of course. There is only the one answer to that question. As the policeman said, the young girl did nothing wrong. You are an adult and an experienced driver. You saw that the lanes were about to merge. All you had to do was to slow and let her in front. Except from what I have seen in New York, that’s not the way New York drovers behave. You were pushing forward, trying to keep her out of what you saw as your lane. You were aggressive. She probably didn’t realise at the time. She probably wasn’t even looking in the mirror. The lanes were merging and she just assumed that the car behind her would let her in. She made a mistake, but only because she was stupid. You made a mistake, but it was coupled with a aggression.
I told him that the lanes do merge eventually, but not until further down. Which is 100% true. The interpreter says to me that since the girl was on the right side, she had the right of way.
And he is right. She had the right of way. But even if it was your right of way, couldn’t you just have done the decent thing and let her in? Just smiled and let her go in front and continue on your way. You might even have felt good about yourself. You would have been the better person.
Even if she almost slammed her car into mine. So I was not going to win this argument either way.
No you aren’t going to win the argument, because you were in the wrong.
The young policeman drew up a report, which just said that I apologize to the girl because I used an inappropriate word. Which I signed.
Because that’s what you did. You swore at a (teenage) girl in public.
Even though the police said that they have no jurisdiction on this case, because the incident was at the mall which is private property and not covered by the police department.
Gosh, you wanted to get off on a technicality. How very American.
But, the report would go in to some file, just in case there might be any other incident in the future. Then they would use this record against me.
Yes, because a grown man who continually carries out abusive behaviour against young women needs to be dealt with. The police are doing the right thing. Who is to say that next time you don’t do something even more aggressive?
Oh, and before that, the cop said that he could take this case to court if he wanted to pursue it further, but he wouldn't do that.
At which point you should have thanked him because he is right. You could have ended up in court, fined and or jailed and then deported.
I asked him if I had broken any laws. He said no, but in Thailand the use of the 'F' word would be under some law covering abuse to Thai custom. I thought great.
You thought ‘great’? Seriously?
If they had this law in America, 99% of the population would be behind bars.
Actually, I don’t think 99 per cent of the US population would have done what you did. A percentage, sure, but the vast majority of American males do not verbally abuse (teenage) girls.
OK, I'm not in America. I'm in Thailand. I get it.
Do you? I don’t think you do.
And even my wife and her sister understand this Thai law. Both of them are convinced everything is my fault and that I was the one to blame.
Your own wife, who defended you at the start, now realises you were wrong. And so does her sister. And so do the police. Don’t you see the pattern here? Can’t you see who is in the wrong?
I'm putting this all behind me now. If it ever happens again, I'll be the one to phone the police. Just my luck, have the daughter of a well to do Thai almost kill me in her car. And I'm the one who's to blame. Only in Thailand.
No, not only in Thailand. If you behaved like that anywhere in the world, you would be to blame. Even in New York. You shouldn’t be swearing at anyone in public, let alone a Thai girl less than half your age. You’ve been here two years, but you clearly don’t understand how a guest should behave in another country. I suggest you reread Stickman’s column again. Religiously.