Redundancy Is The Key To Clarity
My favorite part of your website has always been the readers submission of the week. This is where I often find that pearl or two of wisdom that helps me navigate the stormy waters of relationships and my time in Thailand.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy reading your writing as well, and in fact I hardly read anything besides your website because my eyes started to fail at about 45 and reading just seems to be a sleeping pill now. There are too many other avenues for entertainment with audio books, documentaries, YouTube channels and podcasts to view and listen.
Reading fiction seems like a waste of time because it doesn't apply to real world situations and doesn't help to educate. It really seems like mental masturbation and bullshit. I want to learn by others' mistakes and your readers' submissions usually offer the best information into what is happening in real time around the Kingdom.
In one of your recent readers' submissions I grew very suspicious and couldn't rest for two days until I was satisfied I'd get to the bottom of it and find out the truth. Call me cynical but I just don't buy stories whereby the author looks too good and comes across as a hero who prances into Thailand and everything seems to run smoothly until he gets back to his home planet.
After doing some fact finding and research on the internet I was certain the story was a work of fiction and until you forwarded my emails to the author and he contacted me to confirm it was indeed almost all a figment of his imagination, my Thai girlfriend was further questioning my sanity.
This is one case where the bullshit story actually did help my relationship. And it came at just the exact time our relationship needed it most. It gave me much credibility because I was almost 100% correct in my crazy suspicions, and the email the author sent confirmed it himself. However, if I knew that story was a work of fiction I wouldn't have read it and maybe it would be another year before my girl started to believe my side of the story.
For the last two years I've found the most frustrating part of my time with her is the constant undermining of my advice and leadership. She would rather take the advice of a small Thai child or a street beggar, prostitute or the soi alcoholics that are like a gauntlet we must pass everyday in order to get food and supplies.
She just can't wrap her head around the concept that I could be correct in my opinions about the never-ending folly constantly witnessed all around me, to which she is mostly oblivious.
And when I am proven right, I almost always am greeted with a long face and receive no credit and it is quickly forgotten by her, until I started to gloat and make a point of reminding her every time I'm right and she is wrong.
It might seem counter-intuitive for relationship peace and happiness, but it seemed to work like a charm for me and she is finally coming around and realizes that I don't need to always be right, I just want to be correct and educate her and make her think more rationally because it's a win : win for us.
There are just too many examples to list, because it is almost everything, so I will try to illustrate the big picture with brevity and some key examples.
The Mail Maid Fiasco
She ordered 300 baht of cosmetics from the internet and had it sent to my Bangkok serviced apartment. The day it was scheduled to arrive happened to be the only day she decided to visit her sister and stay the night away from me. I was in charge of signing for the package and adding to her collection of near useless skin cream bottles.
The mail man came and was greeted by the maid who decided not to sign for the package and risk making a mistake because she didn't recognize the name written in Thai but confirmed that this was the correct address and room number.
The package was sent back to the nearest postal outlet and would need to be picked up there with proper identification during business hours.
She was outraged at the maid for not signing for the package and took no responsibility. She didn't think it was her job to warn the building manager or introduce herself to the maid and tell them her concerns about receiving a package to an address that is not hers, and has no documentation of residing. She wasn't giving in, she was right and I was wrong, period. Her friends and the clerk at the postal address agreed with her side.
It was more my fault than the maid's fault for not receiving the package. The maid had zero information to go with and I was lazy and didn't think ahead to inform the building owner, who speaks English just fine. My point was that she didn't have any proof or documents with her name on it that confirmed this was my girls address. It was all her fault for having to go the extra mile to pick up her cosmetics. All the trouble would have been spared if she could live with a similar product that she could purchase almost anywhere else cheaper and no postage costs.
I took this incident as a big red flag for the future of our relationship. It might seem like a small thing, but this situation illustrates that my girl can't think objectively and won't take responsibility for her actions. She stewed for a week and still wanted to confront the maid and ask why she would do such a thing. This angered me the most. She wanted me to phone the building owner and tell her the story and ask what the proper procedure is for accepting letters addressed to my room. I did so gladly, and as I was talking to the building manager, she was talking over my voice explaining her points and wanting to know why the maid didn't like her.
The Maid's Side:
Although the maid does often accept packages for tenants of the building, she only does so if she knows the person by name. As most of the others residing here have been here long-term she knows them all by name. When the mail man came, she saw a name in Thai that wasn't the same as the farang that is staying in that room and assumed it must have been one of dozens of past guests that have stayed here over the years.
My girlfriend still hasn't admitted she was to blame, nor can she see that I might be more to blame than the evil maid. I told her the maid is not malicious, perhaps just a little lazy or stupid. After all, she is a maid and not a kindergarten teacher like my girlfriend with a university education. Albeit, almost useless outside of Thailand.
The Shortsighted Optical Clerk:
After a rather horrific two hours at the mall watching a horror movie filled with images of macabre, voodoo, tarot cards, superstition, ghosts and a ludicrous premise I was ready to go back to my room and chill out. But before this, I wanted to pick up a cleaning cloth for my eye glasses because the evil maid had thrown mine out, thinking it was a rag with no purpose.
Even though I had warned my girl of my intentions before the movie she still gave me a dirty look and begrudgingly went the 15 steps out of our way to visit a large optical store at The Mall Bangkapi. She couldn't seem to understand that a refreshing cloth (pa yen) at 7/11 or an old t-shirt or piece of denim doesn't have the same effect as what I wanted.
After spending 8,500 baht on glasses in 2012 and having slowly scratched off the protective coating, I wanted something of quality and would never use dried wood pulp again to take off smuggles and dirt from my newly purchased glasses earlier this year.
The store was large and seemed just as good or better than anything in my country so I was certain they would have what I needed.
When we walked in there was only two other customers and about 8 employees, mostly ignoring us and playing on their smart phones and actually seemed put out that someone would dare enter the store and disrupt their Facebook chats.
I was greeted by a lady that ordered me to sit in a chair. "Sit here, sit, sit", she said.
"No, I don't need to sit, I'm not here for glasses. I want a cloth to clean my glasses", I said.
"Yes, sit down here and wait", she continued.
I turned to my girl and asked her to explain what I wanted.
She spit out a few words of explanation in Thai that lasted no more than 3 seconds. It must have been something like, "This farang thinks your mothers are pigs", because they looked at me like I had lost my mind!
In unison 3 clerks standing shoulder to shoulder behind the counter shook their heads and the one that greeted me quickly said, "Sorry, no have, impossible to find".
That was all my girl needed to hear, she was already spinning on her heals and mortified that I would disturb the idle staff with my ridiculous request to purchase any of their products and pay through the nose for it.
"Honey, they don't have that here. Let's go", she said.
"Wait a minute, slow down a second. I need you to explain it again and take 10 seconds to make them understand", I said.
They must have what I wanted because this store was better stocked then the store in my city where I purchased my new glasses and if they didn't have a cleaning cloth here, it meant that there was no place in Bangkok that would.
I continued to mime what I wanted using my glasses and the bottom of my t-shirt. They continued for another 15 seconds and repeated, "No have here, sorry."
Then one of the other clerks opened the drawer in front of her and pulled out something that looked like a plastic business card holder and handed it to me.
The writing was in English and it read
Micro Cleaner MX100 by Essilor – seeing the world better.
I took less than 5 seconds to say I'd take it and it because it appeared to be exactly what I needed. I wasn't even concerned about the price. Instead of motioning me to the checkout and getting the crazy farang out of their faces, the clerk that greeted me tried to discourage me from taking it by saying, "Very expensive, 150 baht".
I pulled out my money and waved off their offer of a receipt. It's not like they would refund me the money if I wasn't pleased later anyway.
Not only was I not displeased with buyer's remorse later, I was surprised that this new space age cleaning fiber cloth exceeded my expectations and worked like magic. I contacted at least 3 of my friends since and raved about how effective it was and how it will last for years and was worth twice the price I paid.
Was my girl happy for me? Not at all! She resented that I had not listened to her and immediately exited the store at the first moment she requested. She was pissed that I didn't obey her. She couldn't understand how a piece of toilet paper wouldn't get the same results and that no Thai person in their right mind would pay 150 baht or even 25 baht for this product
As we sat waiting for our food to arrive and I was offering to clean her sunglasses and smartphone there was more shaking of the head and eye rolling and was visibly upset that I was satisfied with my purchase and proved her wrong yet again.
Now after a long weekend in Koh Samed, with many more examples of my wise counsel to reflex on, my girl finally admits that I'm right about most things. "I treat her good, maybe too good", she said.
Once again, much thanks for not reading that reader's submission too carefully and deciding to forward my emails to the author. It has helped our relationship immensely.