Anger and Arrogance
I was talking to an Australian WW2 vet in a bar in Pattaya this afternoon, while my wife was shopping in the market across the road. After twenty minutes or so of sitting next to each other, he broke the ice by asking me about the local bus routes. I don’t quite remember how it happened, but he soon asked me what I thought that Thais thought about ‘us’, meaning Falang, which means Caucasian, no matter what other people might tell you.
I told him that I have often thought about that question over the twelve years that I have lived in Thailand, and that my considered opinion was that Thais think we are rude and arrogant.
I hastened to add that I don’t fall into that group, and he said that he didn’t either, and I believed him. However, that doesn’t alter the fact that that is what they think of us in general.
I gave him a few examples from my past seven days.
A week ago, I was in Bangkok, instigating a Special Branch investigation into her life for the benefit of the Spanish authorities. The interviewer asked me for evidence that I was going to Spain. ‘Why?’ I asked. I only need a ticket and a passport to go to Spain. I am European, I can go anywhere I like in Europe without needing a reason’. He phoned his boss and read my passport. ‘I see’, he said, ‘you are a citizen of Europe, so you can go there and take your wife’. ‘Yes’, I said, to which he replied, ‘Is Spain in Europe?”.
I got angry at that point, but hope that I didn’t show it, although my wife knew, of course. He probably suspected it too.
A Thai would not have got angry at that sort of incompetence. They are used to having to deal with it. Not only that, but they believe that embarrassing the man by drawing attention to his shortcomings makes him lose face, and if you make someone lose face, you lose face too, because it is people’s jobs not to embarrass one another.
It is an alien concept in the West.
And it sounds great, but in reality, it means that nobody complains when they get bad service and the system just grinds on.
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Podcast: Anger and Arrogance