After giving Bia three thousand baht (@$90) last month, the final night that the Beer Garden bar was open, I didn’t give any more thought about her situation. Like everyone else here in Bangkok, I was busy stocking up on food and worrying about how to survive the covid-19 siege. Nor do Bia and I stay in touch with messages or phone calls.
That is not to say I’d forgotten her! All I had to do was glance over at my dining table, where the classy wine glasses she gave me for Christmas still stood. (It seemed wrong to hide them away in the cupboard.) This was a woman who would not be dropping off my radar.
I eventually got back to her in early April, after I’d paid the support for the two barmaids along with a couple of other friends. I sent her a short message asking how she was doing while adding I’d be happy to give her more money. Although knowing nothing of her life outside of the bar, with the local economy ravaged there was a chance she might be hurting.
And indeed, that was the case:
“Hello, how are you? I haven’t been working for a long time. I don’t
have money. It’s difficult. I don’t know when the Beer Garden will
open. Can you help me a little? I don’t know what to do.”
Fortunately I knew what to do: I had her provide me her bank account information, then went to an ATM and sent her enough to last the rest of the month. She texted me a pleasant thank you.
A week later I decided to contact her again as a kind of follow-up. This was unusual for me; my modus operandi is to provide the funds, then back off. No entanglements. But the virus, as I was coming to realize, was forcing people to face a plethora of concerns. Bia’s response was a good example of this — and of why I should be staying in touch:
“Hello, I’m very stressed about when the store will open, how long it will
take. If for a long time I would have to go back to my home in Ubon.”
In other words, she and her kids would be uprooted. After giving this some thought, I told her I’d provide more help next month to stave off the move.
“Thank you. You very good to me. Miss you. Take Care.”
I told her I missed her too.