speechless

you would think it would come in really handy to be able to speak thai when an accident happens. and it probably would. but turns out what happens is i completely forget all my thai. i even forget how to understand thai. and i wasn’t even involved in this acccident. i didn’t even know an accident had happened until someone appeared at my gate asking me about it.

khun pairat, the thai lady who manages the property down the street from us, rang my door bell. she’s never rung my door bell. i head out to see what she needs. she’s with her daughter. they ask me about my son. the one who was just almost hit by a motorbike. like 5 minutes ago. i have no idea what they are talking about. all my kids are home. all my bikes are home. she says it was my son. my son in the blue shirt. my tall son. so i go in and get c16 – who is wearing a blue shirt. he’s pretty casual about it. yeah, that happened. no big deal. and that’s when i went thai language stupid.

c16 has no other information for me. khun pairat says something else to me, but i don’t understand what it is. about this time my mobile rings. it’s another neighbor calling to see if i need help translating. i say i think i’m okay, but will call back if i do. i hang up and immediately another neighbor calls to let me know that another neighbor, bill, is on his way to my house to help me. when he gets here he says that the motorbike rider is still down the street and he wants to see me. i head back into the house to change clothes and grab some money. i’m not sure of the proper protocol, but want to be prepared.

i get down the street and notice skid marks in the street. skid marks that start a pretty good ways from the intersection. and i can see the motorbike guy. he’s got some scrapes – nothing horrible, but certainly painful looking. and then i see his bike. it has some minor body damage – paint scraped, side mirror missing, bumper a bit caddy-wampus. now we come to the tricky part. and i don’t mean determining fault. the tricky part is figuring out how much and who this is gonna cost. (the who part wasn’t really tricky at all. we’re farang, he’s thai. there’s pretty much only one solution to that problem.) there are also all kinds of cultural nuances i’m completely ignorant to. i do know i need to look very sorry and express it, but i cannot even remember how to say i’m sorry in thai. i think bill has realized by now that i’m completely useless and he steps in for me and translates what i should be saying. i don’t know if i’m supposed to offer money or if i’m supposed to wait for him to name a price. the group gathered around to help me says we should not rush, wait to see what the driver has to say. the driver is consulting with his friends and khun pairat. he says his only concern is that his bike be repaired. (did i mention that this motorbike appears brand new?) khun pairat suggests that she accompany him to the repair shop tomorrow and then they can bring me the estimate. i discover someone from our family should go to the hospital with him, but it would be inappropriate for me to be go. thankfully, a male neighbor, jeff, volunteers to go in my place. i give jeff some money to cover the hospital bill and he heads out. jeff spends a good portion of his evening at the hospital. he returns with good news. there was no charge at the hospital. he says it’s some sort of health initiative or something. he wasn’t exactly sure. the doctor did give the guy a doctor’s note for 2 days off of work. and jeff arranged for all parties to meet again on saturday.

while jeff was at the hospital i returned home to see if c16 could fill in any of the blanks in this story. like the when and the how and the exactly what happened. c16 and i had had a bit of a heated conversation and we’d gone to our separate corners. tonight, he had chosen anywhere but home to be his corner so he went for a bike ride. he didn’t make it far before the accident happened. it seems this accident was quite loud. loud enough that many neighbors came out to check and see what was going on. one of the neighbors accessed the situation and sent c16 on home. and about 5 minutes later khun pairat was at my door. c16’s version of the story has it being not his fault. and it matches up with the evidence (thank you law & order and csi for my detective training). the other version that has been suggested – and not from an eye witness – places c16 clearly in the wrong, but doesn’t fit. however, it doesn’t really matter. i can see it happening just the way c16 says it happened and the guy still going down.

i’ve been coached a bit about what should happen saturday. i should once again be sorry. c16 will be with me and he will be sorry. bill and jeff will be with me and they will be sorry – we will be one sorry group. then i will offer to pay for the days of work he missed and for the repairs on his motorbike.

there is one thing i find very interesting and that is that the medical report says it was a single motorbike accident. no bicycle mentioned.

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