Category: 2020-Jun

Social Outlets

My morning begins with a texted weather report from Joy, telling me how hot and sunny it is. She also asks if I have eaten yet and admonishes me to take care of myself. A kind of mothering, but with good intentions. I respond by wishing her a nice day, or something along those lines.

I like Joy. She only asks for occasional help such as for rent or special purchases, the most recent being medicine her doctor prescribed. She’s also been doing some job hunting, visiting large restaurants to see if they will be needing staff as businesses begin opening up next month. I hope she finds something.

My masseuse, Porn, texts me during the day every week or two, wanting to know when she should stop by for the at-home massage and what kind of food to bring for my dinner. This a routine that began on my birthday back in April and has continued for almost three months. Being a rather lazy cook, I appreciate having some variety in my diet. As I age, I’ll no doubt be needing this kind of service more often.

With Porn not being a prodigious texter, I call her on occasion, just to see if she is doing ok.

Bia is shyer than the others. If she needs assistance, she will not ask directly. Instead she will say she misses me (true enough). I then inquire if she needs money, which is always the case. In fact, I just sent her some yesterday. Bia has travelled back to Bangkok from her home in the provinces and, like Joy, is looking for work. But her finances were at a low ebb and required a boost from me.

Even without the troubles brought about by the virus, Sarankorn would be having a rough year. Her sister died back in February and her father passed away early this month (I paid for his funeral). Anticipating she might appreciate having someone to talk to, I told her to communicate via Apple Messages. When at home I am almost always on my laptop, so anything from her using this app will instantly pop up on my screen, allowing me to respond right away. We also do FaceTime sessions every couple of days, usually just after I have had dinner. It’s a wonderful way to interact during these stay-at-home times.

My friend Tui ended up confined to her tiny apartment on Soi 71 for April and May. Knowing she was there alone, watching Tom Cruise movies on the internet, I started doing regular FaceTime meetings with her as well. Because her English is excellent and sense of humor on the same wavelength as mine, I used these evening engagements to entertain her. It became a comedy routine and at times I had her in tears. A nice break from the Mission Impossible flicks (which all look the same to me).

Tui managed to return to her village a few weeks ago and is busy taking care of her daughter (school starts up again this week), cleaning around the house, and working in her garden. Although the future remains uncertain because of the fallout from the virus, whenever I contact her she is always in good spirits.

Be it ever so humble…

A Rescue Request

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.

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.)

The other concern, which I did not share, was my uneasiness with the whole idea. This was a business proposition 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 in this manner 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.

Not April 1, maybe not ever…all my fault!

Business Report

The Terminal 21 Mall, where I’ve had many a meal, is now welcoming all customers, albeit cautiously. Upon entering, a person must do a QR code scan with their smartphone, then have their temperature taken. For Neanderthals such as myself who only have a simple cell phone, a sign in is required in lieu of the scan.

All part of preventing the spread of the virus. What I don’t care for is having to repeat the drill anytime I go into a store (most of which appear to be open). Seems to me once should be enough. Kind of dampens my enthusiasm for doing any shopping. And I’m not sure if you need to scan something when you enter the restrooms, or use a stall. (Maybe the toilet paper?) I did not feel the call of Mother Nature while I was there, so I cannot say. But it would not surprise me.

Come one, come all.

One of the casualties of covid-19 appears to be my local internet shop on Soi 4. I had talked to the fellow who runs this back in May and was told he’d finally be re-opening June 1, but that has not happened. Too bad. I did my Retirement Visa extension last Friday at Thai Immigration, which required a small tree’s worth of paper. I would liked to have used his place for all the copying and printing instead of having to make half hour journeys to the only other print store I know.

Perhaps things will not be as convenient anymore.

Nobody home.

To Swim or Not To Swim?

The pool area at my apartment complex is pretty enough for a postcard. From my balcony I have a perfect view.

Sadly, I have spent little time there during the many years I’ve been a resident. Lounging in the tropical sun requires applying a generous dose of sunscreen, then scraping it off later. A hassle. Other times it’s just so miserably hot outside that all I want is to be hunkered down in my studio apartment with the air conditioning on high.

But beginning last winter, to my credit, I started getting out at least twice a week to swim laps. After finishing, I’d relax in one of the recliners for a bit. It became a pleasant way of clearing my head. Apart from a month-long break following minor surgery, I continued this routine until the pool was closed in late March as part of the shutdown in response to the virus. (A sad day!)

A few weeks ago, the maids informed me that the pool was now open again. However, there is a limit of two people and they can only stay an hour. A signup sheet appeared next to the gate, which remains locked. After getting your name on the list, I guess you need to have one of the security guards let you in.

This is too regimented for me. The way I operate is to glance out my balcony window and if it looks like I can have the pool all to myself, jump into my suit, grab a towel, and hurry on down there. But I’m afraid such spontaneity is not part of the new covid-19 world.

Take a number.