Expat

Mistakes were made

Sigh. Thailand teaches me humility. It’s not that I have some inflated ego or anything; it’s just, well, if I thought I was patient and kind there’s a guy behind me who is more patient and kind. Thai people are amazing. How do they do it?

I should do some investigative work and publish a book called: Thai Secrets to Infinite Patience and Kindness. Or: The West was Won by Impatience and a Bad Attitude.

There are situations that will bring an expat to her knees. (me) Situations, you could say, that could cause upset in her passport country but when overseas creates – creates, more emotion. And I bloody well know I’m not the only one! (*calmer voice*) Let’s look at a few common scenarios, shall we?

I just wanted it to work.
I remember when I got an air card for my computer because I needed reliable (Ha!) internet from home. I ran around Kad Suan Kaew with my geek friend as we tried to figure out what kind to get, what would I really be needing, etc.

Finally we got that straightened out, going from upstairs to downstairs. Knowing that the language barrier would slow us down (and it did) but we had been living in Thailand (!) so we were patient experts chai mai? But after we couldn’t get it to work on my machine, I started to crumble. I don’t know why but I started to cry.

The people were nice enough telling me that I needed to go to AIS and some technician would fix it. If it didn’t work still they would refund my money. So what was my problem? Am I such a spoiled American? They were helpful and kind and as far as I could tell had no flippin’ reason to catch the vapors.

The next day I went to the AIS office and viola! Despite the language barrier again, the technician installed a program that I needed and all was right in my little world again.

Someone please tell me what I’m supposed to do.
When I was trying to figure out what I was supposed to do to get my educational visa I learned the hard way that Thais do not respond to email. They simply don’t see it as a priority. Customers standing right in front of you are first priority, then the phone and then, maybe email unless they have a zit to pop or something.

I pissed away a lot of time waiting for a response and as anyone knows who is on a temporary visa, waiting can feel like wasting. And that waiting turned into having to leave the country again. I could have left it just once but it turned out to be just twice. No big deal if you like pouring your money down a sieve but kind of a big deal if you don’t.

So I got off the phone, wiped my tears and thanked the people in the office and then quickly left. I was so frustrated. I thought I did my research, I thought I was being patient. I thought wrong.

Why are you not mad at me?
When I accidentally ran my motorbike into this other guy’s parked motorbike and almost knocked him down too, I was amazed that he was so good natured about the whole thing. He acted like I had accidentally bumped into him walking down a busy street rather than knocking his bike down.

He and another woman helped me pick up my bike. And despite my profuse apologies he just smiled and said its okay. In the States I would, at the very least, have had the tongue lashing of my life. The police probably would have gotten involved and I would be fined.

All of the above are just singular examples and I have more and anyone who has lived in Thailand could easily add their own. I feel like an ass for getting upset over stupid things when I’ve been faced with a woman who had just returned from a funeral and on top of that, shares with me that her baby girl died.

And so I am reminded that a language barrier is just a language barrier, and life’s too short to be mad at you. Thank you Thailand.

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5 thoughts on “Mistakes were made

  1. Uh, YES. Dealing with True Internet has literally brought me to tears on more than one occasion–although dealing with Verizon back home wasn't much better. Still, somehow it's worse here. There was also an incident when I came home late at night from a trip and my key card wouldn't work, so I couldn't even get in the front door. The people who work in my building were NO help at all. I thought I was going to lose it, but I managed to keep something of a smile on my face. Jai yen, right?!

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  2. Lani, thank you for this moving and cleverly written story. I too am impressed with the kindness and patience of the Thai people. I'm also impressed that you've got the guts to ride a motorbike!

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  3. Thailand is the ideal training ground for any aspiring Arahant. The easiest way to live here is to practice equanimity and non-attachment – if you get this right you are well on your way to Buddhahood. Mostly I just curse people silently 🙂 Progress not perfection.

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  4. Lani, I can REALLY relate with the visa pissing and non responsive emails. Of course, you can strike that in any country, but my Thai experiences of late have taught me even more patience…and I'm still at home in my own lounge room smiling, practicing my jai yen yens and mai bpen rais.

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  5. You know the really ironic thing is? After I wrote this post my motorbike helmet was stolen at my apartment.To be filed under: I should have not let my guard down?Thanks for reading and relating. Talk about mai pben rai, jai yen mak mak and practicing non-attachment!!!

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