This morning I had a conflict over 5 baht on a side street in central Bangkok. I could have given the guy what he asked for, but he was outwardly shaming me in front of all the customers & calling me a liar. I don’t appreciate being called a liar.
It started off with this idea that I would get soup. The guy was standing there with a massive tuft of money in his right hand & the primitive street side shop was very full. I was hungry, so I stood there. The conversation went something like this –
“Soup?”, “Ya”, “How much?”, “50 baht”, “Ok”, “Ok, sit down”
My soup came over & I noted that I had a smaller bowl than the other guys. But that is normal for Thailand, local people are very outward about getting a better deal. On the side was a small bowl of rice. I thought nothing of it. Watched the scene, flavoured the soup, enjoyed the soup.
Then the guy confronted me with bad vibes when I paid. He said “55 baht”. I said, “You said 50 baht”. Anyway, I don’t like to be intimidated or stand down too easily, so I just sat there for five minutes or so. The restaurant owner put a lot of energy into raising his voice over this, but peace prevailed within. Eventually a translator arrived, explained that I can not leave because I am in debt, owing the owner 5 baht.
I scrambled around in my pockets looking for coins, but didn’t have any. Eventually I pulled out a 500 baht note & asked for change. He quickly said, don’t worry about it. Too much drama for soup!
In contrast to that, just minutes earlier I had just had the most delicious salad you could imagine in a fancy cafe next door. The clean, tidy, beautifully & creatively presented shop was literally next door. I was their only customer. Their menu was written out in English with pictures & clear pricing. The meal was a rainbow on a plate. Yummy
So, what was the difference between the owner/managers? The guy who served the salad appeared to be at peace with himself, savvy & was very friendly. The soup guy was a disturbed, outwardly ugly & conflicting type. Next time I will have a second salad.
Moral: Look for good natured shop owners…
In the afternoon I went back to photograph the two businesses discussed in this blog & photograph the salad (round two).