We had unexpected guests at the close of the year. One of the hazards of working cross culturally is that you
sometimes often find yourself grossly misunderstood.
Like this one time, when Aaron reconnected with an old friend from his first few trips to Thailand. The friend said he wanted to move back to the area where we currently live and Aaron said, “Great, if you do you should give me a call we could hang out and stuff, maybe even work together.”
Remember Aaron is basically still a beginner at Thai, his friend is a beginner at English. This is probably explains why, when his friend arrived on a bus the day before New Year’s Eve, with his wife and child and all earthly possessions packed into a few bags, he thought we had a job for him, and a place for him to live.
We don’t have a job for him, unfortunately, we wish we did. But we weren’t going to leave him hanging with nowhere to stay until he figured out a plan B. We have a few choices for places to live. We have a wood farmhouse on stilts that doesn’t have electricity or running water. They didn’t want to stay there. We have a small living space upstairs from the shop for volunteers, but they didn’t want to live there either, too lonely, too much in the city. We also were fixing up the recently vacated little guest house on our property to be ready to host volunteers who were arriving in just a few more weeks. (By fixing up I mean things like cleaning years worth of grime off of things, and patching screens in an effort to make it sort of mosquito proof.) They opted to stay there, knowing they would have to leave a short time later, and that I would be in and out working on it while they were still there.
It was a bit awkward. I was trying to paint and stuff. But they found a good job and a new place to live very quickly and left to live there.
Aaron phoned to tell me this while I was out and ended with, “I told them they could take a few of the mattresses and some of the pots to get set up in their new house.”
This is the part where I got all upset and started asking stuff like, “Wait, which mattress did you give them? Because one of the ones I put in there was way more expensive than the others. “
“I didn’t know,” he said, “and it really wouldn’t have mattered. I gave it to them.”
Cue me muttering in frustration under my breath, because, I’m the one who has been wandering town looking for deals, trying to furnish our living spaces for volunteers on a strict budget.
“It cost over ($30USD)!” I told him, on the point of tears.
“Carrien, how much does that mean for them, knowing what they probably make?” He asked.
“It’s more than a weeks wages,” I answered.
“Exactly,” he said, “for us, it’s a bit inconvenient, and a bit of money. For them it’s a whole lot more.”
I thought to myself that he’s very generous with my time, and my inconvenience. Because I’m shockingly self centered, fairly often.
When I had time to check out the house the next day, it was cleaned out! They had, either purposely, or more likely by misunderstanding, taken every last carefully selected kitchen item I had stood and deliberated over in the store, all the things I had just furnished it with, the mosquito net, and even the extra dishes she had come over to my house to borrow her first day here. Everything except the electric burner was gone.
I was so frustrated, again. I said bad words aloud into the empty house. I called Aaron to vent.
“I’m embarrassed that I feel so angry about this. But I do. GRRR.”
He of course reminded me that it’s not a big deal in the end. We’ll be fine, $100 worth of housewares will not break us. I wished I had known he’d be giving everything in there away, because I have crappier versions of many of those things that I would have preferred to part with. (My heart is so full of charity toward my fellow man, isn’t it? Here, take my old things I don’t want, but don’t take anything nice, I want to keep that stuff. I want to give it to MY friends to use.)
So yeah, the old kitchen stuff is in the guest house for now. I bought new mosquito nets. I finished the painting and clean up. It’s not perfect, but it will serve for a while.
My heart may need a bit more work though.