I was having a dream about a guy with nice abs when I was pulled out of sleep to the repeated cries of, “Help me.”

A moment later I realized it was coming from outside, from the back of my apartment. Then I heard, “Why did you leave me? I hope you die. Die already.”

Then I knew who it was.

There is an old white man who lives in the apartment building next to mine who greets the day, it seems, with a goddamn it. I can’t believe this shit. Or more goddamn its. From what I gather, since the sound bounces off between our buildings, he’s upset that the microwave doesn’t work and that the floor or refrigerator he just cleaned is dirty again. I know – he’s got problems.

It’s amazing how quickly he brings me down. He keeps odd hours too. When I’m sleeping I’ll be woken up to his swearing. I keep earplugs by my bed now so I can pop them in and go back to sleep. I’m afraid though that one day I’ll wake up and sound like him.

I want to yell back, of course. Hey shut up, no one’s interested, or could you please stop swearing. But this could just aggravate the problem. And since my deck is covered in wire it would just feel like I was talking from behind my prison cell. I have a tin cup, now that I think about it. I could run the cup across the chain link fence.

Or yell, Lalalalalalaa and cover my ears like Michael Scott.

I greet my mornings by meditating so you can see how this is the exact opposite of what I hope to produce in my life. Actually this man reminds me of a guy I dated, Mr. Angry. I’ll let that sink in.

And so while I might write about my experiences as an expat I’m also very aware you can live anywhere and make everyone around you as miserable as you. Just because we are abroad doesn’t make it any more glamorous.

Before last night I had heard him talking on the phone asking for a bottle of tequila. And before last night I wondered what Thai woman in her Sanskrit mind would be with such a man. I’ve heard her calm him down. But I guess she finally had enough.

I picked up my mobile and saw the time. 1 am. I could hear the neighbors rouse out of sleep as well to investigate the moaning cries.

“I can’t get up. Somebody help me get up.”

The tee shirt slogan, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up, inched its way through my mind but it wasn’t very funny. I entertained the idea of helping him. I mean it’s hard to listen to someone say help me without doing anything. But I didn’t think an Asian woman would be of much assistance in this situation.

Many expats, old retired men come to Chiang Mai in hopes of finding themselves. Or at least find themselves in a bar drinking and groping the local women. I see them wandering the streets or the mall looking lost. Anyone who has lived here has seen these men.

I’m reminded that my problems are small. And that when someone falls into the deep well of misery, their cries echo but ultimately they have to help themselves. The well is an illusion, just like the idea that Chiang Mai Thailand will make everything better again.

I put in my ear buds and turned on my MP3. His cries eventually subsided and I finally fell back to sleep.

8 replies on “Help me

  1. “And that when someone falls into the deep well of misery, their cries echo but ultimately they have to help themselves. The well is an illusion, just like the idea that Chiang Mai Thailand will make everything better again.”Well said Lani, this is so true and it doesn't just apply to older white dudes in Chiang Mai. I think most of us believe that if we get the conditions right 'out there' it will make us happy. We look for the perfect location, the most attractive partners, and the biggest toys. The reality is though that the problem was never 'out there' it is within us. We are like a dog with shit on its fur who keeps on moving from place to place to escape the smell; we don't realise that the stink is coming from us. There is a peace that is not dependent on outside conditions; in fact this is the only real happiness there is.


  2. True. There are a lot of lost souls in Thailand of every kind of age, sex and creed.Makes for interesting people watching and is a writer's playground. Not trying to be insensitive here, just honest.I think your dog shit analogy is going to be a difficult one to forget 😉


  3. Oof…I don't know if I should feel sorry for the guy or just be irritated by him. Maybe a little of both…


  4. It really makes you wonder why some of these types opt to stay in Thailand if they are that frustrated at the food there, the transportation system, the government, the weather, the language, the squat toilets, the culture, the people (basically everything). I've met COUNTLESS expats who seemed absolutely miserable with life there 90% of the time.Needless to say, I soon thereafter would typically discover that the reason they can't leave the country is because they've burned their bridges back to wherever they were from originally, lack the financial resources to return, etc.. By that time, they've basically devolved into very bitter, racist/sexist, alcoholics (if they weren't that before). Sad but true.


  5. “I've met COUNTLESS expats who seemed absolutely miserable with life there 90% of the time.” I was talking to a friend about this very thing this afternoon. These people are miserable no matter where they are…I just wish they'd stay home in their own living rooms.I was sitting in a cafe the other day and looked across the street, to another. There were four older farang males, all sitting at separate tables, all reading books…it just made me wonder what are they all doing here, are they running from failed or trouble lives, why are they all looking so alone? Surely all of their wives were not out dress shopping. Perhaps, not really relevent…but interesting!PS. I tend to have an over active imagination sometimes 😉


  6. @Megan: Yeah, a little of both seems natural. I overheard him asking a taxi to take him to Las Vegas last night. Assuming he meant a “gentleman's club”. Gotta love the neighbors.@Mr. T: Very true indeed. There are too many who just complain about everything that is wrong about Thailand and you wonder, Why the heck are you here then???@Snap: People watching definitely gets the butter churning. I think we all wonder and are curious. Planet Chiang Mai is such a wondrous place 😉


  7. Lani, I have a similar neighbor…when he is home he is either shouting into a phone on his balcony or screaming at his Thai girlfriend ( she left him ).Luckily he spends most of his time elsewhere but I have on occasion yelled in his general direction to shut the F up.


  8. You're brave Talen. (or just an alpha male? 😉 I wish I had the huevos rancheros to do that.Unfortunately this guy seems to be a common neighbor in Thailand. I suppose this makes for an interesting place. Sort of.


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