Yesterday afternoon, I received a call from Sirada. She and Sumontha were the two barmaids I’d been helping out ever since the Beer Garden bar had closed three months ago. They, along with some of the other staff, were now back there doing some cleaning up and with that almost finished, would like to come visit me. I told them to come on over, not realizing the surprise I was in for.
When they arrived, we sat at an outdoors table and spent time catching up on our mundane stay-at-home lives. It was great to see them and I expected they were going to tell me that the bar would soon be back in business.
Well, not quite. One of their managers (whom I will call Mr. M) is indeed interested in getting things going again, but there’s this tiny obstacle: to renew the lease, he needs to come up with 1,400,000 baht, of which he only has a million. The girls therefore wanted to know if I’d be able to lend them 200,000 baht each ($6,500) to make up the difference. I would be repaid in a few months after Mr M’s bank loan comes through. In the meantime, the girls would get their old jobs back, the customers would surely return, and all would be right with the world — or at least that part of it on Soi 7.
As far as I was concerned, this rosy scenario was not going to happen. I’d recently extended my Retirement Visa, which requires maintaining a very high balance in my bank account through early September, leaving me with limited liquidity. No way could I come up with the amounts they were asking for. Sirada and Sumontha readily accepted this explanation and did not push the issue. (In fact, the pair were almost apologetic in making the request in the first place, leading me to suspect Mr M was behind all this.)
The other concern, which I did not share, was my uneasiness with the whole idea. This was not an act of charity, but a business transaction with no paperwork such as, say, a repayment schedule. For Mr M to imagine I would hand over a huge chunk of money (via my friends) to support his ambitions with no strings attached is straight out of fantasyland. (Maybe he also believes in Santa Clause.) And entering into any kind of a financial arrangement with a Thai has, at least for me, all the appeal of a colonoscopy.
Oh yes, I forgot to mention, the 400,000 baht would be needed in four days when the current lease expires.
Gee, let me check my wallet.