A violent purge of thoughts down the toilet of life.
Good news, everyone – I got scammed.
While getting scammed is objectively not a reason for celebration, I’ve chosen to turn the episode into a valuable learning experience. Because as far as I can see, it’s either that, or spend my days feeling angry and resentful, showing distrust and contempt towards anyone I come into contact to from here on out. That’s no way to live, at least not until I’m in excess of 65 years of age, when I will no longer have any reason not to be an asshole.
Here’s how the episode unfolded:
I drive in to a gas station. “Fill her up”, say I to the attendant. Attendant fills her up.
I look in to my wallet and realise I only have 1000 Baht. Darn it. I know the ‘Oh crap, I only have 1000 Baht‘ anxiety very well. I get flashbacks of seeing my brothers in arms die on the battlefields of ‘Nam, when I only have a 1000 note. I should get that checked.
I hand the attendant the 1000 Baht note. He returns approximately 30 seconds later and hands me 20 Baht change.
PANIC, BRAIN SCRAMBLE, FFFFFFFF#!SHN!T!!”#HRYR!!BUVB.
“Uhhhhhh, no, no, I gave you one thousand baht, so you owe me 920 change.”
“You give me one hundred.”
“Uhhhhhhh, no no sir.”
Cue forty minutes of me in a mobile office in the back of the forecourt, looking at painfully inconclusive CCTV footage, and 3 or 4 staff members scrambling around trying to appease the large Farang, without giving me my 920 Baht, and not losing any face in the process.
So this was like, a real life WHODUNIT mystery thriller, minus any sex or fun, or anything interesting – No illicit affairs, no deaths, no last minute key witnesses, no Mrs Scarlett with the semi-automatic in the Lounge – nothing.
Just video cameras in all the wrong places, a SHADY, SHADY, SUSPICIOUS gas attendant, who contributed nothing except giving me the incorrect change, and white man here, using the wrong language, with zero due process to fall back on.
Here are some key facts for bedtime reading:
- The CCTV camera inside the counting booth showed about four different hands reach in with money, all at once. It was confusing mess, and after watching several times, I could not see shady gas attendant anywhere.
- The booth lady and her assistant spend 10 minutes recounting all the money before showing me their screen of numbers as proof that everything adds up. None of this means anything to me of course, it’s just a load of numbers on a screen and all I care for is receiving my correct change. I’ve never shrugged with such incredulity in my life.
- This was a MAJOR international gas company.
And the most interesting of all:
- I was wearing black socks
So make of that, what you will. In the end, with my word against theirs, I had to just walk away. I briefly considered the baseball bat and WHERESMYMONEH! * smash smash smash* HOWYOULIKEMENOW! course of action. But that seemed a bit trashy. And there was no baseball bat to hand.
I drive off with a full tank that costs 1100% more than advertised. Ouch.
I should make it clear that this scam as we are calling it, is not beyond reasonable doubt. I am willing to entertain the minute possibility that my mind was playing tricks on me. It’s 6% possibility, I would suggest.
I’m 94% certain, and that is after the reassurance of a culturally assimilated, Thai speaking friend, who states that scamming of this kind is very rare. He points out that there are (albeit, terrible) CCTV cameras present and such a scam would carry incredible risk for anyone involved.
So there we are. I got scammed. Or I messed up (6% chance).
To be honest, I’ve been lucky on my travels. I’ve had a little money stolen from me, but that’s about it. Never been extorted, or kidnapped, or physically attacked.
With that all said, I’m delighted about being shafted out of my (not so) hard earned cash. What a timely and imperative lesson that the lord haveth shined down upon thee. Which is, err…be careful? Don’t give large denominations of currency to anyone, without a film crew in tow? Yeah, one of those. So I feel fine about whole thing, and everything is fine.
Now excuse me whilst I go and vomit.
I was driving home in the Sunday 3pm rush hour traffic (no idea), and suddenly everyone on the highway files into a slow single lane. ‘Oh no, this can’t be good’ is my first reaction…and I’m right. Not good at all. Bike smashed to pieces, car with a lump in the back, albeit, relatively unhurt. And most critically – a man laying either unconscious or dead in the road.
I don’t like seeing this stuff because it’s a harsh reminder that stuff goes wrong on the roads here. Quite frequently if the horrific stats, the news, and the overbearing aura of danger is anything to go by. Much of the time it’s due to drink driving, racing, or a bit of both.
But sometimes it’s just for no reason. A freak accident. Things that can’t be prepared for.
This is the contract you enter when you agree to drive a motorcycle in Thailand. You have to accept the risk, be vigilant, and then just try not think about what could go wrong. It stopped me for a long time, but last year I accepted my fate, and joined the uncertainty.
What irks me more than anything is the amount of Farang airheads touring around this city with no respect for anyone or anything.
People not wearing helmets. COS IT’S TOO HOT. Sure, Steve from Wyoming – your brain will be nice and temperate when it’s splattered across the moat road.
Others can be seen checking their phone WHILST DRIVING. Madness. The other day I passed two gangly white tourists (they were wearing Chang vests) driving on a main road whilst attempting to map their progress. Gawwd, PULL OVER YOU CLOWNS.
I was so irritated by this sight that I almost crashed 20 metres down the road. How’s that for irony.
Rightly or wrongly, I feel somewhat responsible for Farang here behaving like morons on the road. Why? Because if they get in a crash from being stupid, it reflects badly on all Farang.
But you know, it’s hard to regulate. How do you stop wild gap year backpackers, who are probably having the time of their life, from jumping on a motorcycle the second they rock up in the city? How to stop three on a bike, beer in hand, helmet-less frat boys from acting exactly how you’d expect them to act?
Fortunately, there is a group of super villains overseeing that.
Yeah, they’re called the Police. They stop every white person. They stop them, alright. Then they take their money, and let them go again.
What this city needs is a Farang overlord, who keeps all Farang road users in check. Like a union. A cartel? Or better yet, a superhero.
Farangman, we could call him. He could wear a cape with an F on and say things like, ‘For every Farang caught without their helmet on, a human dies.’
No wait, that’s definitely a super villain. If you’re killing more people than you’re saving, I think that revokes your superhero status. Even in the name of road safety.
Listen. If you’re reading this and you plan to head out on the roads for the first time in northern Thailand, then make sure to follow these guidelines:
- Don’t drink and drive.
- Wear your helmet.
- Understand and accept the risks
- If you don’t like handing all your money to the cops, then make sure you apply for your Get Out of Jail Free card.
Sincerely, your overlord