Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The lonely American

I was sitting in Starbucks yesterday, hanging out online, when this farang came up to me and said hello, then asked where I was from. I said I was American and he said, "Yeah I know" (which I doubt, "Hi" is hardly enough to distinguish an accent from) so I told him I was from Oregon. We chatted a bit, figuring out which other Americans in Rayong we both knew, then he very quickly began telling me his life story. I know all about his latest medical crisis, where he met his wife, all about his kids, his last job, where he works now etc. At first I nodded politely, knowing what it's like to be starved for English conversation. But then it just got weird.

He offered to give me his and his wife's phone numbers so I could call them any time I needed advice. I explained that I had been in Thailand for a good 10 months now and was reasonably well sorted, thankyouverymuch. He told me about the school where he'd gotten his teaching degree and I jotted down the information for future reference (still in the thinking/researching phase of deciding to go to grad school) and he told me that when I applied I should tell the guy I know him. I was like "Um, okay Mr. Starbucks man." Then he proceeded to tell me that I should also get my TEFL through them... "Well, I already have my TEFL" ... and that no matter what anyone tells me I cannot get a Thai teaching license without a masters degree. "Ok, but I already have a job and don't really need a teaching license." It was one piece of unsolicited career advice after another. I was flabbergasted. I kept turning back to my computer in the universal "I'm done talking to you." manner, but he was undeterred. I was torn. He was nice enough, and I didn't want to be rude, but man.... time to learn the social cues!

At one point I had told him that my contract was nearly finished and I'd be heading back to the states. At which point he told me he hoped I would stay..... "Um, I'm actually ready to head home now. I've had my adventure, it's been great, but I have a few other things I'd like to do with my life." Finally his wife arrived to collect him, and as he was leaving he said most cheerfully. "And I hope something *really* spectacular happens to make you stay in Thailand."

"Um... thank you?"


TAG: Code Watermelon


Cate said...

There are definitely some weird expats out there. The other night we ran into a few guys who went on and on about how much they hated Korea, but they had been here 10 years and weren't going to leave because the money is so good, and we should try and find better paying jobs so we can still be miserable here but making a few extra bucks. No thank you!

IamSusie said...

How odd! Some people simply do not understand social cues. It is hard for those of us who do to be direct with them, because we feel like we are being mean.

Bezzie said...

I don't think it's odd. If anything kind of refreshing. Nuts are nuts no matter what continent they're on!

Rebel said...

Cate - those are the ex-pats I avoid, you get the feeling they wouldn't be happy anywhere.

Susie - yeah, now I wonder if maybe he had some kind of aspergers or something where he just couldn't tell. No idea.

Bezzie - I see your point, and it's true, people are people wherever they are.

mlle b said...

Just think of him as being like the crazies on Tri-Met and thus a way of relieving some of those feelings of homesickness!