Yesterday I met a gentleman on the train. This isn’t unusual, I see foreigners on my commute everyday, but I tend to ignore them. This is in part because, honestly, I’m not a very friendly traveler. I prefer my quiet and a book, my thoughts and space. It’s that way on a plane, a bus and the train, too. The other reason I ignore foreigners is that I’m typically embarrassed by their lack of etiquette, their pushiness and their loud voice heard a throughout the train. We could talk, but before there’s a chance for that I’ve already judged them and decided, there’s no reason to chat. More on that later.
For now, I met a gentleman from Denmark on the train yesterday, and after waiting in line with him, sitting across from him, and finally transfering alongside him – I decided to strike up conversation. He hadn’t rushed, yelled or made any other annoying social faux paz. I guessed him to be in his early 60s, and he was gracious. This man already had my respect, so I asked his story – why was he here, what did he do, how long, etc.
We spent the next 15 minutes discussing his life for the past 10 years in Thailand and I came away glad we’d spoken. I’ve met a number of white men who are married to Thai women, but don’t speak of them like their match – more like a trophy, who’s opinions don’t hold weight. For this reason, I’ve already grown leery of that type of relationship – a male farang dating a Thai woman.
This man was different. Before he told me about his children or his wife’s personality, he proudly told me about her overseeing the renovation for a home she had bought. After a bit he told me how they had met, which I’d like to share with you.
I don’t know the couple’s names, so I’ll call him Dane and her Ping.
When they first met, it was at a restaurant and they began talking. At that time, he was between jobs and didn’t have much money, but she kept telling him she wanted a job – that he should employ her in some way. Maybe at his office? Dane told her that wasn’t an option, but she didn’t believe him – he was a foreigner so he must have some kind of job for her, right?
Eventually, Ping began cleaning his house and cooking for him when he had guests. Over time, Dane trusted her enough, and they were getting closer, so when he went abroad he told her to treat the home as her own, invite her family over, stay there if she felt so inclined. A bit later, Ping invited Dane to visit her home village, meet her family and see another side of her life. When he arrived, he was surprised to find that her family was quite wealthy, and was reminded that Ping was well-educated and had traveled abroad. He learned that she owned quite a bit of land, sold her own crops and managed her own business.
And this woman had asked him for a job cleaning his home?! Dane said to her, “You have so much, you could have given me a job. Why did you want to work for me?”
She replied, “I wanted to see what type of man you were.”
They’ve been married for seven years, with two children and he happily says she’s a brilliant businesswoman.