Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thai Smiles, Part 35: The Motocy Taxi Guy

It was late in the day and the heat had been unforgiving that afternoon. I'd been wandering around taking pictures in an area near Lumphini Park and was overheated, thirsty and a little cranky, so I'd gone into a 7-Eleven store on my way back to my room to get something cold to drink and literally chill out a bit under an air conditioning vent.

Coming out of the store I had an open can of soda in one hand and my camera in the other when a guy held out what I took to be one of those little brochure/flyer pieces of street junk that promote different places where men (and the occasional woman, I suppose) can hire a female to do a form of massage that falls a little to the liberal side of "whoopie". Some advertise they also have Jacuzzi tubs full of women and offer guarantees of visits to heaven - for a fee.

"Mai ow (I don't want it)," I growled, shaking my head. "Go away!" The guy grinned and held it up again, this time opened up to one of the more colorful images and looked at me with disbelief, as if I couldn't possibly not want to know more about these lovely sirens of Bangkok. Realizing it's just his job to hand them out I motioned for him to put it into my shirt pocket, told him thank you and turned to move on. "Ten baht?" he asked as I turned, and since I felt a little bad about growling at him I fumbled with the coins still in my hand from the store and dropped one into his hand. He thanked me and went on to his next mark.

While finishing my soda I stood for a few minutes watching a lottery vendor selling tickets to a small crowd that had gathered at his table, then dropped the empty can into the trash bin outside of the store and continued back to my room.

As I rounded the corner there was a l-o-n-g line of motorcycle drivers waiting for fares. Since I already had my camera out I thought I'd take a picture of this line up, stretched out at least half-way down the block. They looked bored. One of them looked up, hoping I wanted to pay him to take me somewhere but before he could even get the usual "Where you go?" I said "Sorry, going to my room", pointing to my hotel at the other end of the block.

Since I had his attention I asked if it was OK for me to take his photo, and he gamely agreed. When I said "Yim (smile)!" he said "Can not. Not happy. Two customer today."

I didn't quite buy that, but I suppose it was possible he'd had a lean day. Fishing the girlie flyer out of my pocket I said "Here... now I think you'll smile," and he asked hopefully "I take you here?" "No thanks," I replied "I don't like ladies." "AHhhh!" he smiled, knowingly; still gazing at the brochure as I took his photo. I showed him the image on the screen and said "You see? NOW you're smiling!" He laughed and said "Yes, lady make me happy."

I pulled two of my usual 20 baht "random tip" notes out of the same pocket where the booklet had been, folded them together and handed them to the man. He looked puzzled. "Where you go? You pay after." Pointing again at my hotel down the block I said "I'm walking, but that's for your bad day with only two customers."

"Thank you," he smiled - and three other drivers around him held out their hands, too. Surprised at how quick they'd reacted I laughed out loud, and as I walked off I called back to the first guy "Show them your flyer - maybe that'll cheer them up!"

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