After banishing Newt from my apartment, I’d hoped I’d seen the last of her. The best explanation for all the unpleasantness is that my generous financial help had caused her to go goofy on me. There must be, beneath that calm exterior, an undercurrent of weirdness that the well-intentioned money had somehow brought to the surface. It baffled me that I’d never sensed this before. Usually I can tell if a Thai lady is somewhat off kilter (especially if she’s had a few too many). But not with Newt. She became a completely different person. Kind of scary.
Three weeks passed with no more surprise visits or messages. It seemed I was finally free of the craziness. Then Newt fired off another round of incomprehensible SMS texts. Huh? I would have thought she’d gotten the point during that apartment scene when I emphatically explained I was through helping her. The Thais after all place great value on main-taining face; shouldn’t this have caused her to reconsider and not risk another (and likely more vehement) rejection?
This time I decided to send a brusque reply, having grown weary of the unending gibberish: Leave me alone!! Unable to let things go, Newt responded with another batch of messages (which often seem to come in threes for some reason). The first two contained the usual indecipherable garbage. But the third was a brief (and surprising) apology, which I found mildly encouraging.
Soon after that exchange, I left Bangkok for my annual U.S. vacation. As one of my pre-departure tasks, I turned off my cell phone and removed the SIM card, leaving it along with some other items with a friend. This meant that any attempts to contact me would result in a “not available” response. If Newt wanted to bang her head against this electronic wall for over a month, she could go right ahead.
Perhaps that did the trick. In the almost three months since I’ve returned to the Land of Smiles, there have been no further mystery texts. But to my dismay, my tormentor ended up back at her old job at the massage shop, a couple dozen paces from the entrance to my apartment complex. I was not completely surprised when I saw her there, however; in fact I could have predicted this sad trajectory once there was no more support forthcoming. I forced a smile and a friendly wave, then rapidly retreated to put some distance between us, all the while biting my tongue least I spit out the f-word. At least she can no longer make surprise visits to my room — the guards will not let her by.
All in all, it’s a messy, exasperating ending to what began as an honest effort to assist someone in real need. Instead, it turned into another lesson in how things in this country can unexpectedly go awry.
One nagging question remains: What happened to all the money? This woman burned through over one thousand and five hundred dollars in less than a month — an exorbitant rate by Thai standards. If I had to speculate, I’d say she saw this not as a lifeline, but rather an opportunity to live the high life off of my largesse while assuming it would continue. Or, to put this another way, that she could cajole me into keeping the cash coming. This strategy might actually have worked to some degree if she had acted in a sensible manner.
Ultimately I am never going to know what she was thinking — or if she was just acting out of instinct and not thinking at all. It will have to go down as one more Thai Woman Mystery.
🎄Holiday Notice🎄 Next posting will be Sunday, January 8, 2017.