Why my favorite shop in Thailand is amazon.com

Don’t get me wrong, I love living here in Thailand, but that being said, I am increasingly buying many items in the U.S. whenever I can. Take sunglasses for example. I routinely buy Rayban Aviators or Outdoorsman sunglasses which I deem infinitely superior to el cheapos that are available worldwide. Today, my girlfriend and I went to a shop near my condo for the express purpose of having the attendants take off the templates or arms from a 58 millimeter pair of Rayban Outdoorsman to put those on a 62 millimeter pair of Rayban Aviators and replacing the arms of the Outdoorsmans with the templates from the Aviators. I have been keeping the 58 mm Outdoormans in a desk just in case I should lose the larger pair of Aviators. Meanwhile I had gotten my Thai girlfriend a much smaller pair of Raybans which she feels are too small. However she does not like the hook on style of arms that were on the Outdoorsmans whereas I actually prefer them to the standard templates I’ve been using with my 62 mm Aviators. THe solution came to me in a flash. The 58 mm pair of Outdoorsman’s I am keeping just as a spare are a bit too small to my tastes so my plan is to buy a new 62 mm pair of Aviators in the U.S. for my new spare and to give my 58 mm spare Outdoorsmans to my girlfriend.

So we went into Charoen Optical here in Naklua. Although I have a number of tools in my condo I was not sure I had the right size of small screwdriver to work with the very small screws in the two pairs of Rayban sunglasses. So I showed the attendant who first waited on us the two pairs of sunglasses and asked her if she could swap out the templates for us. I told her I’d give her a tip even though in the U.S. any optical shop worth its salt is going to perform this service for free. The reason is most American shop owners know that if they give you good service you are likely to come back so even if they are giving away service for free, a lot of future business will result from this.

But this is Thailand, the land where money is number one. But to this I’ll now add stupidity, laziness, lying and dishonor. Right off the attendant says Midai, which means “No can do.” And I”m thinking maybe midai for you because you probably can’t do anything but certainly not for any optical shop in the U.S. The woman is soon joined by two other attendants who soon prove to be just like her, as useless as tits on a boar.

I now tell the girls I will give them 50 baht, which is close to two dollars if they will swap out the templates for me. One of the attendants now starts to explain that the templates cannot be swapped out because of the glue. Well, I am pretty sure that Rayban is not using glue around those little screws that fasten the arms to the frame of the sunglasses. Then she tells me or I think she’s telling me that the screws in the two pairs of sunglasses are not the same and therefore the swap cannot be done. But that makes absolutely no sense at all. I am over 90 percent sure that the same sizes of screws are used and that Rayban has designed their sunglasses so they can be easily repaired with new arms and screws if necessary.

I suppose these attendants think I’m really stupid if they expect me to believe all the reasons for Midai…..that is all the reasons they cannot get a simple job done. So I look one of the attendants in the eye and I ask her, “Around you sure, Midai?” And she looks me square in the eye and replies. “Sure.”

I know she’s lying. I also know all three of these gals are completely incompetent. I have already resolved to do the swap myself. But before my gf and I leave the shop I start looking at the pairs of Raybans they have for sale. The cheapest pair of Aviators are 9,000 baht which is around $300.00. I can buy the same pair from amazon as well as a number of other online retail outlets for $100.00, one third the price.

I have screwdrivers and other tools back at my condo, but I almost drive my motorbike to a local hardware store to make sure I get the exact size of screwdriver I need. I don’t. But when I do get home I find at least two very small screwdrivers in a set that will do just fine. I also take the pair of tweezers out of one of my Swiss Army knives because I will need all the help I can get with those very small screws.

It takes only 10 to 15 minutes for me to swap out the templates in the two pairs of Baush and Lomb sunglasses. Then I race downstairs to have my girlfriend try on her new pair of sunglasses. SHe likes them a lot. But there’s another woman down there talking to her in our parking lot. It is our maintenance man’s wife who handles the inside cleaning in our condo. I make sure that she knows how stupid I feel those employees are at Charoen Optical. But…I also made it clear to her that I did not regard her husband the same way at all. Thank god he’s not the same. He gets to our condo at 6 a.m. or even earlier and it seems that there is very little he cannot figure out for himself. He’s terrific. I also have a high regard for his sidekick who is our engineer and electrician. In fact, the electrician asked me to get him a pair of Raybans last year so I bought him a pair from amazon.com and brought them back to him upon my return from a short visit to the U.S. He enjoyed the sunglasses and the price….100 bucks.

Now I must go back just one day…yesterday. My girlfriend and I found a shop in Big C where I got a nice warm sweatshirt. We go to Japan tomorrow and I did not have enough warm clothes. I paid more than double for it compared to what I should have spent, but again, I”m not in the U.S. and there is hardly any long sleeved sweatshirts to be found. They also had a lot of knives in this shops from well respected U.S. companies such as Gerber, Buck, and Victorinox which makes Swiss Army knives. I price out a Japanese made Recon Tanto by Cold Steel and the girl told me it was 9000 baht. When I got home I priced the same knife out at Amazon.com and it cost around 2,500 baht.

Thankfully not everything is selling here at such ridiculous prices. All I’m saying is be careful and do remember that money is number one, that laziness here has been brought up to a cult status and that far too often Midai means “we cannot do, but you probably can”. Oh, one last concept and that is one of “no honor’ Now one would think that one might be ashamed of saying Midai when what is requested is a very easy thing to do. So by saying, “I cannot do,” one is dishonoring oneself for being one lazy, or one very stupid, person”. Fat chance though. This is one very strange land

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