November 12, 2013 – Day 104
Today’s story comes courtesy of a larger story arc that revolves around our family’s car (newly arrived from Peru) and my three (and counting) trips to a nearby Honda dealership to have its non-driver side automatic passenger door fixed.
In case you’re curious (and if you’re not, you can skip down to the next paragraph), the automatic door doesn’t close all the way because there is something amiss. It could be a motor. It could be a dent in the runner that guides the door. It could be a myriad of defective parts. All I know at the moment is that it does not work and my trio of trips to the dealership have been an exercise in frustration all because of language (one person speaks broken English and I speak no Thai). I even went so far as to have someone who does know Thai write on a piece of paper “My passenger door is broken. Can you give me an estimate as to how much it would take to fix it?” On my second outing, this note prompted much smiles and a smattering of giggles from the threesome of showroom workers who gathered around the white-skinned foreigner to see his funny note.
On my third outing, the technician said (and translated haltingly by the lone English speaker at the dealership) that he could fix my door for 500 bhat (roughly $17) and that it would take an hour. I agreed to the price and length of time and I was offered the chance to sit in the dealership’s waiting room.
Instead, I took the opportunity to walk next door and buy a soda (Sprite) and chips (nori seaweed flavor) from the adjacent 7-11.
When I plopped my edibles on the counter, I gave the normal greeting of sa-wut dee krab (“hello”). The cashier was dutifully impressed enough to ask if I knew Thai. I replied that I only knew the words for “hello”, “thank you” (which is “kope khun krab”) and then I counted to four (nueng, saong, sam, see). This prompted much giggling from the two female cashiers who then proceeded to say in their best English, “One, two, three, four, five.”
From the corner of the store, I heard another female voice say something which elicited even more laughter from the cashiers. Seeing the quizzical look that darted across my face, one of the cashiers informed me that, “She said that you are mansome.”
Just to make sure there was no issue with the translation, she repeated, “She says you are mansome.”
In a 7-11 in a foreign land confronted with a new language and having just been told I was quite “mansome”, there was one and only one response.
I said, “Kope khun krab”, grabbed my soda and chips, and departed as quickly as decorum would allow.
By the way, if you were wondering if the title of this post is a call back to a favorite cartoon show of mine.