F-Bombed By An Ugly North American

It was like every soft-focus baby talcum powder commercial and Hollywood family fantasy had merged together, and we were the stars of the scene.

The baby, dressed in a pristine flouncy pink and white dress, finally old enough to run around without falling and hurting herself. Laughing (not too loudly) with a new-found playmate, leaving me and my dark and devastatingly handsome date to enjoy each others company in a garden restaurant with swathes of green grass, twinkling tea light candles, bright stars and cool-but-not-cold weather.

Pasta Cafe Chiang Mai

There was enough space between us and the carpark and between the carpark and the quiet road for me to relax. Miss M seemed to have finally outgrown her kamikaze hobby of barreling headlong towards traffic.

There was a fishpond, a garden feature that has been stressful for me in the past. But this one is surrounded by a small fence and a flower bed, so a toddler’s misstep won’t require a lifesaver. With no cold dunking possible, Miss M isn’t even interested in this pond, perhaps a sign her obsession with fish is coming to an end.

But even better — delicious Italian food, wine and attentive staff.

Before she ran off to play, Miss M – finally big enough to sit on a chair and feed herself – downed a reasonable amount of “noodles”, broccoli, chicken and some tomato. (She ate! Another dream come true.)

Darling Man and I were fresh from another visit to the amazing 700-year-old Wat Jed Yod and an impromptu blessing from a monk, who wrapped white cotton bands around our wrists while chanting something very serious-sounding.

It was perfect, perfect, perfect. And slightly amusing. Because here we are in northern Thailand, at an Italian restaurant.

But there was a fly in the ointment. And not a buzzing-quietly-cos-I’m-about-to-gasp-my-last-earthly-breath. No. This was one of those foghorn North American flies.

He was two tables away and yet every boring declaration was an assault on our personal space.

We were bombarded with every detail of his recent land purchase, of the last four movies he uploaded and his analysis of how he’s TripAdvisor’s best contributor ever. Whatever. We are trying to have dinner.

His salad arrived and we were subjected to loud complaints about how he’d ordered his salad with no anchovies.

Then the mains are served and what followed was incredibly painful.

“I ORDERED SALTIMBOCCA,” the guy whined as loud as an F1-11, and he sent back his dish.

After hearing more (unwanted) details of his recent land purchase, Mr North America was presented with his replacement dish.

“NO. I. ORDERED. SALTIMBOCCO.” His complaint as headache-inducing as the noise of an overloaded diesel truck labouring up the Himalaya. “The waitress looked me in the eye and repeated the order and this is not right. I ordered Saltimbocco. What’s so difficult? It’s on your menu.”

Waitresses came and went from Mr Complainy’s table, silently. And the rest of the restaurant was silent too. We just wanted to enjoy our food.

I couldn’t believe it when Mr Complainy ramped it up a notch. Actually several notches. He went nuclear.

He demanded to speak the manager. He shouted over and over again how he ordered FUCKING SALTIMBOCCO. The manager’s reply was too quiet to hear, as were the comments from the other people at his table.

Suddenly, the other male of the two dining couples up and left.”You’re making me feel very uncomfortable,” the other old American guy said, just within the audible range.

“OH, NOW JOSEPH IS PISSED OFF,” Mr Complainy thundered. “THAT’S JUST FUCKING GREAT.”

He went on and on. His Thai wife tried to calm him and she got yelled at as well.

While his first complaints were about how he’d been coming to the restaurant for five years “AND NOW THEY’VE GOTTEN GOOD AND ALL FUCKED UP”, he upped the ante as the minutes wore on to how he’d been the restaurant’s best customer for seven years.

Joseph, the second American diner at the table, came back to the table briefly with his scantily-clad young female companion, but left again when the rant continued.

Shouts of “bring me the menu” and “I don’t want to eat here, bring me the bill” were followed by “this used to be the best Italian restuarant in Chiang Mai” and “I want to speak to the owner”.

His wife kept trying to calm him, but Mr Complainy wouldn’t be soothed. He kicked back his chair and marched out of the restaurant, standing at the entrance of the carpark with his arms crossed over his enormous stomach. Looking ridiculous in his black t-shirt and shorts and white hair and beard.

His poor wife, about 20 years his junior, paid the bill and scuttled after him. They walked off down the road with Mr Complainy throwing off loud “IT’S UNACCEPTABLE”, “BULLSHIT” and “I ORDERED FUCKING SALTIMBOCCO” comments over the hedge.

He finally faded into the distance and Darling Man and I began to unfreeze our screwed-up-in-agony faces. I’m not Asian and don’t quite get the concept of losing face. But this guy had really made a scene — he’d totally lost face.

“What a dick,” an Australian-accented voice said from the table next to us, breaking the tension and triggering a wave of giggles.

“Honestly, I came here for a nice meal,” the Aussie guy said. “Why do I have to listen to that?” And we made some new friends.

Between our two tables we agreed we felt really sorry for Mr Complainy’s wife.

As the manager cleared our table I felt like I had to say something to wipe away the horrible ickiness of Mr Complainy.

“Sorry about him,” I said. “Are you OK?”

The manager smiled and said yes.

“He does that every time he comes here,” she said.

And I apologized again. On behalf of all white people.

Mr Complainy had mentioned Toronto, so I’m not sure whether he was actually Canadian or American. But he was damn ugly. Inside and out.

 

Pasta Cafe
21 Soi 5 Nimmanhaeminda Rd
Chiang Mai

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9 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.

12 Comments

  1. Dudes like that really rot my bag (I think that may just be a Newfie term, but believe me, it’s not good).

    Thing is, there are so many of those fools carrying on in Asia…double-tsk I say…double-tsk…
    Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..Travel Photo Roulette Round #33: Humour

    • Barbara says:

      Oh, a very restrained response, Raymond!

      I’m wondering if your Newfie “rot my bag” is the same as the Australian “gives me the shits” (but less crude). How’s my translation?

  2. Yeesh, what an asshole. I try not to make too many sweeping judgements, but I’m discovering that there are a lot of entitled white men in Chiang Mai (and presumably elsewhere in Thailand/SE Asia). I guess they feel they have the right to be catered to by everyone and then it goes to their heads and addles their brains. So annoying.
    Christy @ Technosyncratic recently posted..Budapest’s Steamy Széchenyi Thermal Baths

    • Barbara says:

      I don’t think the ugly foreigner phenomenon is restricted to Asia, nor linked to being North American. I actually feel sorry for this guy – can you imagine being that angry all the time? What a horrible life.

  3. Liz says:

    Love your post and your choice of adjectives! I could actually visualize it all happening. I have had that feeling before – feeling the need to apologize for all white people. It doesn’t feel good.
    Congrats on your recent blog award as well.

  4. Aledys Ver says:

    What a nightmare of a man! I feel sorry for the Thai wife as well, I can picture her tiny and soft speaking and this gigantic bully complaining at the top of his voice bec. they didn’t get him his “saltimboca” (or did he actually say, “saltimbocco”?)
    This story reminded me very much of my holiday in Greece with Moaning Myrtle – a friend of mine, who chose to feel miserable herself the entire holiday and make the rest miserable as well. There was no contenting her, no matter what we did or say and she made three scenes at different restaurants where my husband and I really felt like strangling her… very annoying!
    Aledys Ver recently posted..New Year traditions

  5. I don’t think it’s just in Thailand where that’s a problem. That’s up-their-own-backside expat-itis. ‘I’m superior to everyone in this room,’ behaviour. There’s a lot of it here in Turkey, too. Makes me sick.
    Julia
    Turkey’s For Life recently posted..Eating in Sultanahmet: Tarihi Sultanahmet Köfteci

  6. what a complete idiot. and everything was so perfect, too. it’s too bad, really, that some are so egocentric. his poor wife.
    wandering educators recently posted..2012 Grand Trunk Study Abroad Scholarship Winners

  7. I run into that type of American too. My first “embarrassed-to-be-associated-with-America” experience was in Spain. While in a local shop, I listened to a teenage girl yell at the sales associate for not speaking English.

    Ummmm….What country do you think you’re in?

    Sigh.
    Janet

  8. Kirsty says:

    Ugh – I hate those type of situations. They happen everywhere though – we just had a ferry cancelled in India and while we and our kids quietly accepted “this is India and there’s a cyclone so of course they cancelled the ferries” some of the other westerners on the pier were frankly embarassing with their demands and toddler tantrums and f-this and f-that…
    Kirsty recently posted..Letter from the Andamans

    • Barbara says:

      Yes, it’s the same everywhere. Delayed flights also cause a lot of loud complaining even when it’s a mechanical problem. Personally, I’d like the mechanics to take their time and fix things properly before we take off!

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