Thailand

Moto-Sigh

Not my real driver

We went to the Rod Fai Train night market last weekend. It is nowhere near the train. The moved it to make way for some other infrastructure project, but they kept the name. Sort of branding. It’s popular because there are lots of antiques and vintage goods. 

Vintage goods arrive by the bale, seemingly from your goodwill donation box.  They are washed and sorted and sold. Old university shirts, marathon race shorts, torn jeans. It’s all out there for dirt cheap. When your wholesale price is zero, there is an infinite return on investment. 

To get there, one must take the Sky Train to the On Nut stop. From exit number three, the most expeditious way to get there is via motosi, motor bike. On this night, people were lined up deep to catch a ride into the night.   

I’ve mentioned this service before. The motosi mafia owns a certain spot and drivers can only pick up from that spot if they’re approved. They zig zag between cards and push the limits of traffic laws to get you where you want to go and return to base for the next ride. Time is money.

The line moved quick. Mrs. SAM and I split up.  She went on ahead. My bike pulled up and I hopped on. My driver was a very squat fire plug of an individual. Blue jeans, Day glo Orange vest, ski mask, leather riding gloves. 

“The train market.” I yelled.

A female voice answered, “Okay! 150 baht.” And we were on the way.  

I glanced down at the name badge.  “Wanchita” was uncharacteristically verbal for a Thai driver. I could hear her muttering towards other cars who were driving too slow . Or urging on the traffic light to hurry up before running through it anyway.  

She deftly maneuvered between busses and trucks and was courteous enough to keep me out of the exhaust fumes for most of the ride. This went on for about 30 minutes. 

At one point we were behind a dump truck which suddenly pulled to one side revealing a police roadblock. Thai police regularly set up snap roadblocks checking mostly motorcyclists for helmets and proper registration. And here was one such roadblock. 

Wanchita, though, just rolled on the throttle and shot off down the road, blowing through the police checkpoint. She shrieked and cackled! “Ahhhh! Hahaha! You no helmet! You pay 500 baht! 500 baht! OMG! 500 baht!  

She repeated this every 500 meters. I felt like a total fugitive.  She was Thelma. I was Louis.

I mentioned that she was rather stout. And the scooter wasn’t that big. I noticed that she was sort of scooching backwards. I scooched back to give her some room to maneuver. But she kept pressing backwards. I was running out of room to sit. 

“You happy! 500 baht! You happy, happy?!” Was she asking? I’d never had a transportation worker so concerned about my emotional well being.

This, too, was repeated several times as we rolled up to the market.  Scooch, scooch. “Happy, happy!?”

We arrived at the market. Locals sauntered in the aisles between the stalls. Music thumped competitively between bars. I dismounted.

“Ok! You take my number! I love you. I love you.”  Her eyes through the ski mask twinkled. I realized that it wasn’t an exclamation, but a proposition. My driver had a side gig. 

“Oh, no thank you! I’m happy just fine now.”  I paid her and waved goodbye. She shrugged and winked behind her visor and she zipped off into the night.

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