For the five years that I have lived here, my friend Nicky has managed a combination travel agency and coffee shop just down the street. I used to go there often to browse the internet until I purchased a laptop, which allows me to surf from home. But I still try to stop by on occasion to say hello. In the past year or so I’ve started to bring cookies on some of my visits, a treat the staff — in particular a cute girl named Gan who’s quick with a smile — looks forward to. Call it staying in the good graces of my pretty neighbors.
I have come to admire Nicky (pictured below), a Thai businesswoman who unlike the bar girls who haunt the Soi is not looking for some rich Westerner to support her. She has never asked me for money and runs a successful small company:
Patpong Translation & Visa Service
Translation, Marriage Registration. Tourist, Retirement & Marriage Visas
📞 095-245-5195 (24 Hours)
818 / 23 Soi Udomsuk 36 Sukhumvit 103 Road Bangkok, Thailand 10260
(Take a taxi from the Udom Suk Skytrain Station)
Why not see if she could use some help?
Since Nicky’s English is very good, I stopped in and sat down with her one day to explain my offer. I told her about the farm I’d inherited and how I had sold it a couple months back, leaving me with ample means. However, my mother had left instructions that the money could only be used to help others — no spending it on myself. (In actuality mom never would have done something like that, but I’m quite sure she would have applauded the idea.) So, how about a little financial assistance to improve the business? Not wishing to sound like a game show host, I refrained from tossing about any outlandish figures. Instead, I tried to convey my sincerity in a friendly, low-key manner.
Throughout the course of my “pitch” Nicky seemed interested, perhaps as much in the story about my mother as the actual offer. It being Friday, she said she’d think about it over the weekend. A few days later, when I returned with my bank book, she surprised me by saying no.
This was a novelty: a Thai actually declining money from a foreigner! My estimation of the woman, already high, went up another notch. But I was at a loss as to the reason. By Nicky’s own admission, the past couple of days had been difficult as she wrestled with my generosity. Maybe I should have assured her — in good humor — that my helping out did not oblige her to sleep with me.
In all seriousness, I think this was too much for our friendship. Time and again I have noticed how Thai women tend to view love and financial munificence as all being part of the same package. From that perspective, my money-only proposition was confusing. Did this mean I was now interested in her? Or had I just slipped a cog? Whatever the actual reason, I did not take it personally.