Before the coronavirus arrived, my friend Joy could be found camped out opposite the 7—Eleven a block beyond Nana Plaza on Soi 4. I often ran into her when I decided to take the long way home after an evening at my bar. A businesslike woman who knew my drinking habits, she would often ask how much wine I had consumed. If I was in the middle of one of my exercise fetishes, she’d compliment me on my lack of a paunch. Then I’d get a brief update on how things were going on the Soi before being sent on my way.
I know nothing about Joy’s background. The couple of times I asked only produced vague answers about how she’d had troubles just like everyone else. Always kept a certain distance. And when I on occasion handed her a one thousand baht note ($30), she found my generosity puzzling since she had not done anything to earn it.
It was therefore a real surprise when one afternoon earlier this month I received the following message from the woman:
“Can I borrow money first? Can I pay the room fee tomorrow? 2500
baht. I am not (have) a customer. If I have, I will repay you. Sorry for
the disturbance but I really can’t find it.”
Another victim of the economic hardship caused by the virus. I grabbed my bank card, donned a mask, and went out to the ATM to send her some money. I provided four times what she was asking; only covering the rent would still leave her struggling. Of course this was more help than she was expecting:
“Why do you transfer to me? Ten thousand baht. So much. Thank you
very much. If you have any problems, send me a message or call
anytime. I click to pay for (t)his room. The rest I will pay for another
month. Thank you very much.”
And a couple days later…
“You’re fine. I paid for the room yesterday. I thank you very much for
helping me take care of myself.”
Knowing that Joy still visits Soi 4 on occasion, I’ve told her I’ll see her there sometime. While this was really just an offhand remark, it wouldn’t hurt to give her a heads up the next time I’m down in her area. It sounds like she’s now keeping an eye out for me. Perhaps I’ll be getting to know her a little better.