Entrepreneurs really piss me off

Dear Mister/Miss Sidewalk Entrepreneur,

I hate you. Passionately.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate your industrious, earnest work ethic. I do. I really really do. In a city where it has become so easy to push amphetamines or prostitute oneself or simply lay on the street and beg, it is refreshing to see the not-so-well-off take their fate in their own hands and strive to make on honest baht.

But why do you need to hog the entire friggin’ sidewalk, huh? Riddle me that, ass wipe.

Sure, spreading out a blanket to display your wares (which your family may have spent every waking moment handcrafting) is a great way to save on expensive rents, and naturally you want to peddle your products in high traffic areas, but do you really need to take up all that space? There’s barely enough room to walk as it is with the rush hour pedestrian crush, but you and your customers happen to be taking up a lot of sidewalk space. Take a look around you; there’s only enough space for one line of us pedestrians to walk by at a time, trying to maneuver around you and your fellow entrepreneurs. If that weren’t bad enough, the food hawker stall right next to you comes with its own sidewalk-hogging dining tables, dammit!

Again, I appreciate the need to locate yourself in a high density area. But to be fair to my point of view, Bangkok is miserably hot and muggy, and if I’m outdoors, I’m looking to get from point A (likely an air-conditioned, indoor locale) to point B (likely another air-conditioned, indoor locale) as expeditiously as possible. Any obstacle that hinders me from completing this simple mission (i.e. YOU) is something to be scorned, if not eliminated with extreme prejudice. This goes double if I’m on Silom Road, where it is important to present oneself as a moving target to the many many pigeons flying overhead just itching to deposit a gift onto my shoulder. Getting shat upon by a pigeon may be good luck in places like Turkey or Italy, but in Paul’s World, it is an excuse for me to get medieval on your ass.

So I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do. The next time I’m in a rush to get some place, and I see your yarn-woven wristbands or homemade turquoise jewelry or wood-carved toys blocking my way, I gonna stomp the hell outta your crap, kick it into the streets, rip up your blanket, and laugh into your indignant, shell-shocked face. How do you like them apples, Kemosabe?

Ok, so I’ve played and replayed that scenario in my mind every night for the past 2 years, and every time I’ve stepped into traffic to give you wide berth, or I patiently inched along with the rest of the crowd. But the next time, I swear I’m gonna do it. Really I am. Or maybe the time after that, if I’m in a really bad mood.

Don’t push your luck.

Sincerely yours,

Paul Ark

P.S. Bite me.

9 Comments so far

  1. Ben Harris (unregistered) on November 24th, 2004 @ 1:56 pm

    They inhabit that bridge connecting MBK and Siam Discovery too and, even though they have a lot of space, they still seem to occupy way too much space (along with their crowd of people who actually never seem to buy anything).

  2. lynn (unregistered) on November 24th, 2004 @ 3:24 pm

    Let’s not forget the sidewalk alongside Gaysorn Plaza as well. Straw Mats loaded with this and that fill up the entire walkway, and the sad thing is that all the tourists eat it up.

  3. him (unregistered) on November 24th, 2004 @ 3:54 pm

    Incredibly, I live somewhere that has seen a brainwave of activity that has got rid of the hawkers!

    The corner of Soi 23 used to be populated by 6 or 7 large food places – but no more. A few months ago, the government (I ASSUME) lined this pavement with… ornate flower boxes.

    They don’t look great, but you no longer fear for your life when trying to get in and out of the soi. I’m just amazed no Thai has tried to move them. They arn’t exactly big…

  4. jojo (unregistered) on November 25th, 2004 @ 1:09 pm

    I think Bangkok would lose a lot of its charm and life if sidewalk vendors were removed. If you want empty streets and cool weather, you shouldn’t be in Bangkok.

  5. chris (unregistered) on November 25th, 2004 @ 2:45 pm

    They’re gone? You mean all it takes was pots of flowers? I always hated walking along that area because the pavement seems to belong to food stalls (hot & smokey) and motorcycle (also hot & smokey) riders. And it’s not the quietest of street.

    Luckily the food there weren’t so great, so I’m willing to trade it with the flowers. :) I really really hope they didn’t drive away those at soi 38 though.

  6. shari (unregistered) on November 28th, 2004 @ 6:19 pm

    too bad not everyone is fucking rich enough to be able to afford to live in another country, luxuriously, much less be able to own a decent shop to sell their stuff.

    but, hey, moan away, I think THAI government will listen to you guys who bring lots of money to Thailand anyway.

    and fuck locals, aren’t worth shit.

    BTW, do it, the police will side with you. I’m pretty sure.

  7. him (unregistered) on November 28th, 2004 @ 8:28 pm

    Shari do you realise who is, and who is not, a Thai on this blog? Paul, Lynn and Chris actually have… Thai passports (I hope you guys don’t mind me pointing that out). So, to say “rich enough to be able to afford to live in another country” is what you are aiming at people who don’t actually “live in another country“.

    So, really, you should be directing your thoughts towards myself and Ben, if anyone – except, we just posted observations, not really criticisms.

    My personal view is that Thailand – and Bangkok – would loose a lot of it’s charm if it lost the streetside hawkers. It would be good however if someone educated the moto- and car- drivers of Bangkok that pavements are not, actually, parking spaces.

    Don’t be bitter towards us farang – not all of us are here to use and abuse and disrespect the Thais you know? Judging us all on the actions of a few is like saying all Thai women are bargirls – which is just rubbish, really.

  8. Paul (unregistered) on November 28th, 2004 @ 8:45 pm

    Him, no need to bash on what few readers we have =)

    It was a fun piece for me to write, and people either understand satire and sarcasm, or they don’t.

    We’re here to contribute our ideas, thoughts, and opinions, and while it is very much a labor of love for me, I’ve accepted long ago that not everyone appreciates my acerbic wit.

    Peace all.

  9. him (unregistered) on November 28th, 2004 @ 10:05 pm

    I think, after looking at Shari’s websites that she should come write for metblog.

    In case you are wondering, one of her sites is a cool webcomic called Rabid Monkeys. If you enjoy that, you might enjoy one of my old-time favourites… Little Gamers.

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