Heart to Heart: How to recognize an ATM


How to recognize an ATM
Dear Hillary,
I met this girl at a function and we hit it off straight away. I was really unsure of where we were going, but we go for dinner together at least three times a week. She is in her thirties and has a little dress shop in one of the arcades and I worry about her being away from her shop when she is with me, so I throw the odd 1,000 into the till to make up for it. I will be going back to the US in a couple of months and told her that I would be away for about six months. She floored me by saying that she needed my contributions to the bottom line, and if I could keep sending something over she would be able to keep the shop going and she wouldn’t have to go back to the bar as a source of income. I asked her how much did she need and she floored me by saying she needed 100K a month, so if I could contribute 60K she could make up the difference with the shop and she would be waiting for me at six months. Are these figures standard for this type of situation? Am I being looked at as an ATM?

Dear Jeff,
Go and look in the mirror, my Petal. See those letters on your forehead? The A and the T and the M. Yes, you are the knight in shining armor with money stuffed in your pockets and the ATM brand on your forehead. Now is the time to cancel lunch, leave the till alone and climb aboard your horse and ride off into the sunset. Today, Petal, today!

Another paragon of virtue
Dear Hillary,
I can’t get this girl out of my head. I think about her every day. I only see her at night when she is working, but she will only sit with me. She even asks me to come and see her the next evening. That’s OK by me, but she won’t let me pay bar for her as she says she is responsible for the bar as she is the cashier. Where do I go from here?

Dear Ricky,
How old are you, dear boy? 16? Your wonderful girl, one of the 1,000 cashiers in Pattaya, is just stringing you along to keep the takings up at the bar. She makes more money looking after the bar than she would by looking after you after hours. Go to another bar and fall in love with its cashier as well. When you get older you will understand.

Police and the beer bars
Dear Hillary
The bar business doesn’t look too good right now. Quite a number of the bars, including some well known ones have closed. Even in Walking Street and now they are closing Soi 6 in the daytime. It is hard enough to make enough to live on for the girls, and this makes it impossible. There’s not much left for them, other than crime flogging ya ba. Restrictions on the bar girls affect the economy all the way through to the grandparents living up country. When they make these rules and regulations don’t they ever think about their own people? Certainly keeps the lower paid people just at poverty level.

Dear Jum,
Sounds like you are from New Zealand, Petal. I do agree with you in part, but not all. Prostitution has been illegal in Thailand for many years, so the bars are operating outside the law, but with the full knowledge of the police, and who tolerated the trade. Many reasons for this, but paying off the family motorcycle is just one of them. The lower level police also have families which need financial assistance. This crackdown makes life even harder for them. These are the reasons the bar trade flourished, and makes it obvious why the lawmakers called in the Army to uphold them. However, you are not in danger, unless you park in the “disabled” area in Big C Extra.

How to lose 10K
Dear Hillary
Maybe 10 thousand baht isn’t a lot of money for some of your readers, but it is to me. I went and did a stupid thing by lending 10 thousand baht to one of the girls at my local bar. She had borrowed a couple of thousand from me in December and paid it back in January, so when she asked for 10 thousand I swallowed hard but said OK. She said she would pay it back at the beginning of February. Well we’re into the end of August now and nothing. I can’t get any sense out of the other girls in the bar, just a “She go home.” What do you think Hillary? Will she come back? Will she bring the money?

Dear Jasper,
While I feel for you, there is an old saying which goes “Never a lender or a borrower be.” You were lulled into a false sense of security because she paid back the previous loan, but she could probably get the small amount reasonably easily, while the 10K is more difficult. If it goes over three months, then chalk it up to experience Petal. It was a cheap lesson, provided you don’t fall for the same trick again.