Stickman Readers' Submissions December 24th, 2014

The Money

This is about the money. There were feelings involved, there was other stuff involved, but this is about the money. Get the calculator out.

I got back with my ex after a 2-year break. I was on the rebound from being dumped and I was lonely. I had lost my strong feelings for her, I was really after a bit of comfort, I'm not an innocent, I used her as well as she used me. Before the break she had groomed me well; I was sending her 30,000 baht every 3 months. It guess it's not a huge amount, it was what I was comfortable to give, and it was roughly 10,000 a month, which is roughly the Thai average wage. She was working, so – with what she was making – money enough to send some home, and put a bit aside for a rainy day.

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30,000 baht isn't that much. My daily budget is 2,000 baht when I am in Thailand. By the time she received it she had borrowed money against it, so she would say thank-you so much for sending me the money. It's just a shame I have had to immediately give 18,000 of it to pay for the rent and that motorcycle accident, and Noi borrowed 3,000 off me, and my phone was stolen so I had to get another one, and send money home, so really it's as if you had never sent me a single baht. I don't think she was making it up. I'd seen how the woman had dealt with money. There's possibly a better existing term for the mutually beneficial financial cooperative society the bargirls ran. Having spent time upcountry I'd seen it first hand on the farm. People were kind and generous with each other, they lived in each other's pockets. The food on their table was there for any of the neighbours to share. They shared each other's clothes. They kept each other company. This bonhomie was duplicated in the bars. The girls looked after each other. They lent and borrowed in equal kind. The girl on a roll would shout the dinners, would give the others her hand-me-downs. Most of them kept to the spirit of the arrangement, but some were selfish, some had gambling or drug problems, or there was a nightmare boyfriend in the wings. So that far from being of benefit to the girls, this informal mutual cooperative was an engine of doom, chewing up the billions of bahts worth of remittances being sent to the girls. Most of it was just squandered, spent on tats, or phone rechargers, or motorbike accidents, or gambling debts etc. It hadn't gone on anything cool like a trip to Chiang Mai or anything practical like the downpayment on a small house in their rural town. Informal was the operative word. The girls would be sold a motorbike without the right papers (cheap!) and it would later be repossessed. It wasn't deliberately wasted, but it is the old story….if it's easy come, it's easy go.

I had sent her maybe 400,000 baht. High rollers in Vegas spend that in a night on cocktails, but I was cheap, and I'd been doling it out in 30,000 chunks. My cheaper side started doing the mathematics: 3 or 4 weeks a year, 2 trips a year, 120,000 baht, and then spending on her when I was there and the gifts. 120,000 by say 25, is 4800 baht. I wasn't sure she was worth 4,800 baht a day. And she was being cute with me. That last time she didn't want to have sex with me. We went to a restaurant and she saw an old dude with an old Thai lady, and she said 'You see? He has a woman same as him. I am younger than you. You’re lucky.’ It wasn’t a good thing to say to me then. I didn’t feel lucky, I didn’t want it to go on. I waited until I got back to Australia and wouldn’t return her calls. Bargirls will tell you the truth, you just have to listen to what they’re saying. They’re upfront. People say they’re scheming, but that’s because the girls are not very good liars.

I got back with her 2 years later. She wanted me back – my money back – so she was careful at first. I wasn’t interested in going back to regularly sending her money, so I gave her a day rate of 2000 baht. I met her on the coast and then I followed her inland to Isaan. I spent 2 weeks with her. The sex was rubbish. She hadn’t looked after himself. She took me to spend time on the farm. The family were poor, there were no luxuries, there was no glass in the windows, it was all about keeping the farm. I was back in, without wanting to, involved with the family. The 2,000 baht a day wasn’t enough. We met on the coast again, and I heard her talking to someone back home, about how I’d only given her 8,000 baht.

I headed south to the islands. I called her, and she was annoyed with me. I asked her what was wrong. She said ‘You see? You have eye’. I have eye. They were poor. The land was all they had, it may have been worth something, but it was all they had. I didn’t care for her anymore, but I’d walked into a champagne bar in Soho without asking how much it was, and now I was getting the tab. I sent her 30,000 baht. I am not a good man, I am not an innocent. I’d sooner the money I gave to her was in my pocket now.

My advice: don’t feel sorry for them.

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