Full Moon Madness
I gave it my best shot. But ultimately it was not enough.
In the space of a week I gave her all she needed. The night before she was due to return to Korat I took her out to a posh local restaurant popular with all the Thais. I gave her all my free time and I spent perhaps tens of thousands of baht on her, with a promise for the future of a daily sum, to be paid periodically in advance while she was living in Korat, of exactly the amount she had asked for. Admittedly, I had agreed the daily sum on the proviso that I would visit her hometown and make my own estimate of what she and her daughter need to live comfortably. If I then thought it should be a different amount, more or less, I would discuss it with her and we would come to some sort of agreement.
Security is what she is seeking, she had told me. For herself and her child. I understood that. I understood very well that she could only consider a man as her future partner if her basic needs were to be met by him, at the very least while she has parenting obligations.
She said she did not spend a lot of money on herself. That seemed to be true. So I wanted to check the average daily sum which would be needed. She had estimated a need for much more than what my previous girlfriend had happily managed on and she, my previous, lives in Bangkok which I surmised might be more expensive than living somewhere out in the Korat countryside. I would go and see.
She said she would finish working in the bar at the end of the month. She would be paid the next day and then go back to Korat, ready for school reopening on the 2nd.
Every evening, after work, I took her out of the bar and we spent my free time together.
At the agreed time, at midday on the first of the month, I took her to the bar to be paid her salary. The minibus taxi would collect her later. She would wait for it at the bar, with her aunt who had already arrived there to wait, and she promised to phone me to tell me when they were leaving. I wanted to see her off, actually with a small gift which would be a surprise.
Having received neither text nor phone call by 10 PM, I decided not to ring her but instead to go to the bar. Speaking Thai over the telephone does not work very well unless you use the language all the time. When I arrived I saw she was sitting at the bar with a farang and I went and ordered a drink for myself discreetly some distance away.
After a while she came up to me. I had expected her to ring me. She said she did not because they were not going home that day after all. Her aunt had gone back to her room. I was still disappointed that she had not rung me.
She explained that the bar had not got the money to pay the staff. So she was going to work at the bar for one more day. I considered carefully what she was saying, and that she had not made phone contact to tell me anything. That would have given me the opportunity to go to the bar earlier and, speaking with her person to person, to find out exactly what had happened.
She asked me if I would pay the barfine for her. I gave no answer to that question, wanting further information first.
She said she was working in the bar one more day because the bar had said that the staff would be paid tomorrow. I told her that what she had been told was possible, but not certain. The bar might say the same thing tomorrow. They had said one thing and not done it. There was no reason to be suppose that, now, again, they might "not speak true". They know she had to leave today because she must take her daughter to school tomorrow when the school re-opens. She had told me that. Now they are making her wait so that she cannot do that, which is not very nice of them. She had told me it was important to her. However, she was convinced she would be paid tomorrow.
She would not be able to go home tomorrow, though, because she would be paid too late. It would have to be the following day that she and her aunt would return home. I made a mental note that already they were keeping her on for yet another day. But I let it pass and made no comment.
I asked her why she was working at the bar today. She had agreed to work only up to yesterday. She said the bar had said she had to work until she went. She had not gone. So she had to work. I told her I found it difficult to believe that. She had worked until the end of the month exactly as per her agreement with the bar. Now she need not work. The only reason she had not gone was because they had not paid her.
They had not paid her when they had promised to pay her, I said. She is jai dee and had said never mind. She would wait. But I would have rightly expected her to say that they had not done what they promised and so she was free from any obligation to work another day at the bar whatever promise they may have got from her. She could tell them, as they knew, that her boyfriend wants to spend time with her and she wants to spend time with her boyfriend, so why SHOULD she work at the bar today when she can go and stay with him.
Was it because actually she does not want to spend time with her boyfriend?
She answered quickly. That was not the reason she had decided to work another day, she said. She would be paid extra for one more day's work. Extra. I had an idea how much she was earning. Eventually she admitted it is 100 baht a day.
I said, now you are asking me to pay 300 baht to the bar. You say you decided to work for an extra day to get 100 baht extra but now we have to pay the bar 300 baht. If you think it is a good idea that we pay the bar 300 baht in order to get 100 baht you need to go to the mental hospital. Nobody in their right mind thinks like that. She had no answer. It was an admission that working one more day to get more money was not a tenable reason for her to have decided to work at the bar one more day.
I told her, sadly, that I had been hoping that by being with me she would get to know me and like me. So I had given her all my time for the last week. I had even paid her money in advance for her child, all that she had asked for. Additionally, at midday today she had asked for more money, to buy clothes, I had given her, and now she was wearing a lovely top and skirt and looking beautiful. Altogether, I had paid many thousands of baht in just one week, just to be with her.
Did she did not think that, after explaining everything to me, and then asking me for the one hundred baht she would be earning for working at the bar today, I would then not have given it to her? She just dropped her head.
My heart was so sad. It was now almost midnight. I had given it my best shot. A beautiful, soft, tender woman who, in my opinion, just needs loving and care, was not going to be mine. Even just ten years together would have been fine for me. Perhaps yes, she was thinking she would have liked to be with me. But, whatever the pretence, the facts were strong enough to show there was no real intention.
The final rub was that when I went to the bar to pay the bill they tried to overcharge me. Pool is not free at this bar. It is twenty baht a game. For two games they had put sixty baht on the bill. Sorry, sorry, the cashier said when I pointed it out. I was going to make sure they knew it had not gone unnoticed. I said Mai pen rai, it's only nit noi, but I paid only the correct amount. An experienced cashier in a reasonably busy bar, like this one was at the time, does not make that sort of "mistake". It is not momentary madness caused by the full moon or anything else such as Halloween. It is the telling financial reality of the bar. Distasteful. Mai aroi. I was pleased to go and leave the rest of the punters to it.