Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thai Smiles, Part 49: Work Is Work

Married owners of a fruit cart "stall" near the Glow hotel

Thursday. It's only Thursday.

When I was doing a fast-paced, high stress job with a publishing company some time back I'd occasionally find myself shutting myself off and hide in my office, head in hand, and wish, wish, wish it was late Friday afternoon; the freedom of the weekend just a bit too far out of reach. All too often, though, the opening scene of "Apocalypse Now" would come to mind. If you've seen the movie you probably remember it: the camera shows some dusty, ratty little room and Martin Sheen's voice-over laments in a helpless and hopeless tone "Saigon. Shit...I'm still only in Saigon."

Raking leaves, clearing tables and sweeping up, this man was preparing the Just One restaurant one morning for the day's business

While there are days I can still get myself wrapped around the axle about things, by and large my work today is a blessing from [insert higher power of your choice here]. Many can't say the same thing, and while I can both sympathize and empathize with them - I've had some jobs far beyond miserable - if I'm asked I offer the same solution: don't do it. Find something else. Push an ice cream cart around your neighborhood, if it makes you happy. You could adjust to a simpler lifestyle - we all could.

Renting sail boards on a beach North of Pattaya

I don't judge anyone by what they do to hold body and soul together financially as long as it doesn't harm or abuse anyone else and has at least some semblance of honor to it.

A couple work l-o-n-g days in an alley - setting up, cooking waffles and cleaning up / breaking down shop afterwards.

You've seen sewer workers, prison workers, construction laborers, massage and more blatant sex trade workers here (although they've never been directly identified as such, out of respect for their privacy) and a lot of other jobs you as readers might recoil from doing, but it's honest work, and I applaud them for being able to do it with a smile. As I've said before, in most cases the Thai feel if there isn't some fun (sanuk) to be found in doing something - why bother? Even begging on the street can be a legitimate option in some cases, and thank goodness for the mercy of those with an extra coin or five.

Using a weighted pipe spade a worker digs hole after hole in the hard, dry earth at a park construction site.

So, here today are some people who do a wide range of work, starting with the couple up top (who  plied me with samples of things I had never tried while selling me fruit to stock my hotel refrigerator with) to the laborers toiling in the hot sun on a day I didn't even care to be outdoors because of the heat.

Although it isn't Labor Day, I tip my hat to them all.

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