Randolph (from the USA)
My Thai friend worked her way through the online program (in a longer than typical timeframe) and received the advanced degree. Not long after, she disappeared. Several e-mails to her went unanswered. I then found out from the other waitresses that her mother had passed away so she had returned home.
I certainly felt for her. Again I sent a few messages conveying my thoughts and prayers, but no response. I explained to myself that everyone grieves in a different way and the loss of a mother is certainly one of the toughest things in life, so I didn’t worry much over the lack of a response. None of the waitresses seemed to be able to contact her (or even try) and none of them knew when or if she would return.
I always found it peculiar that these Thai girls were the closest of friends, almost like sisters with each other as long as they were in America, but when they returned to Thailand the never maintained any contact. Once one of them returned home, it was like they never even existed to those that stayed behind. Even when several of them returned home to Thailand and lived within the same area those girls never stayed in touch with each other. It’s as if their Thai friendships made in America stayed in America.
It was during her absence that some of the other waitresses seemed all too happy to divulge other information about the now missing girl. I learned that she had a habit of making fast and close friends with one of the other girls just to turn around and do something to end that friendship just as quickly. I was told of a story about an argument over a ride to a shopping mall ending a friendship. Accusations of another girl being too friendly with her boyfriend ending another friendship.
All very petty stuff in my estimation, but girls will be girls. I also learned that I apparently was not the first homework assistant. Another waitress who was married to an American claimed that she had constantly requested his help with her homework, but when they needed any sort of simple favour, she always had a convenient excuse not to help. So maybe she was a bit lazy and quite a bit spoiled – did I mention how absolutely ravishingly gorgeous she was?
You can imagine that I was quite surprised when five months later I entered the Thai restaurant and there she was waiting tables again as if she had never been gone. But one thing had changed. She held out her left hand and proudly proclaimed that she and the boyfriend had gotten married. And there it was, an enormous diamond sitting on her finger. I was dumbfounded. I wasn’t jealous or any other silly emotion, just simply surprised by the unexpected turn of events. I asked about her mother’s passing, but was simply told that it was sad and she didn’t seem to want to say any more about it. As sensitive an issue as the death of loved one is, I didn’t push the issue – or bring up the unreturned messages.
So time passed and our friendship was maintained, but didn’t really grow. I kind of always knew my place and it became more of a friendly American acquaintance, until she needed something, then she made me feel like I was her only friend in the world. But I figured as long as I knew the score and never put myself at risk, I had nothing to lose. Besides, somehow just being able to see her made it seem all worthwhile. But then, as she always did, she needed something.
It wasn’t all at once, but slowly grew. I had learned by now that she played the part of the victim quite well, but I continued to let her get away with it. It started with stories of a life unfulfilled. She wasn’t happy being a waitress any more. She and the husband didn’t always agree on everything. She felt the pressure of needing to send money home to her widowed father. She wasn’t happy in America, but couldn’t go home to Thailand yet. So one day she asked if I could help get her a job at my company. She knew that I had worked my way up and was one of the supervisors and figured that it would be as simple as me handing her a job (maybe that is how things work in Thailand). She didn’t really have any applicable skills – other than being beautiful. But I talked to one of my fellow supervisors and he agreed to give her a chance as a low level secretarial assistant.
Much to my satisfaction, and perhaps relief, she worked out quite well. She was pleasant and appeared eager to learn. So much so that my fellow supervisor even gave her the opportunity (encouraged with my assurance) to take a step up to the next level position. That’s when I started to hear some of the quiet grumblings of some of the other employees. Much like the homework, she had apparently become quite adapt at pitching a sad story to fellow employees and getting them to “help” her get her tasks done. When anyone complained to me privately, I told them that they could easily refuse to help her, but no one ever did – they all seemed to genuinely take pity on her and in retrospect all seemed to later think it was no big deal.
To be honest, I was quite happy because I got to go out with her for an occasional lunch and she seemed to now be back in a state of confiding in me. Of course the two constants of our conversations were the fights with her husband and sending money to her father.
Her father it seems had taken up with a woman several years his junior and was now burning through money at quite a pace. He had been an executive in a construction and development company, but with the bad turn in the economy and the death of his wife, his life had taken some less fortunate turns. She didn’t know much about the background of her father’s younger girlfriend, but had heard she had a reputation of liking to spend money and socialize quite a bit. She also apparently had a teenage son with a rather large gambling habit.
So, of course, my friend suspected that her money was being sent to her father only to end up in the hands of the new girlfriend and perhaps used to pay off debts of the son. There was even a story of a car she had bought her father being sold, but with no money to show for it. But again, I was never asked for money. I was only there to listen. Of course I provided pragmatic advice, such as having a serious conversation with her father or reducing the amount of money being sent, but it was all dismissed as not reconciling with her responsibility as a good Thai daughter.
A Thai Girl Story Part 1
A Thai Girl Story Part 3
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