As a real estate agent, in my downtime, I'll regularly scroll through the various Bangkok Facebook groups looking for people who are looking for housing.
Recently, as I was scrolling, I came across a guy that had posted a lease-takeover. It was a beautiful condo at a great price, so I planned to send him a message to let him know I'd be happy to co-ordinate with the owner to get a new tenant in the condo, on a new lease, on the condition that he could maintain his deposit.
I never did get to post that message as I never got through the comments.
And then the show stopper....
"I'm interesting", to which the guy responds, "I'll message you"
Well it certainly tickled me
A younger Thai woman leaving this short-and-simple comment, along with its reply. I have no idea why I found it so funny, but I did. A little "Tinder-esque" exchange, courtesy of either auto-correct or a slight grammatical error.
Reading it as it was written, this random girl who was just popping in to let everyone know she's interesting and to then have the guy respond, "Well then. In that case, I guess I'll message you!". I was in tears. My sides hurt from laughing so hard.
I left a reply, "This is hilarious. Thank you for this", along with a laughing or smiling emoji or one of those things that I have no business using as a 35-year-old man.
The gentleman gave the comment a like and that was the end of that. I put down the phone, put on a movie and settled in for the evening. For that brief moment, I forgot the country I live in. We weren't done. We were far from done.
I touched a nerve
A notification that Ms. Interesting has replied. "Why this hilarious? Can you explain?"
So, I did. I explained the difference between interested and interesting in this context, why it was a funny comment and what the correct usage of both would be. Put down the phone, returned to my movie.
Ms. Interesting isn't happy about being corrected. I reply, "I'm not here to correct. I simply appreciated the humour of the comment". Put down the phone, return to my movie.
Now there's a message request. Ms. Interesting is a having full-blown temper tantrum. "EXCUSE ME! I don't know what is a problem with my comments but I think it not your business...." and on and on.
De-fusing the situation
It's 9 or 10 in the evening. I'm trying to watch a movie. All I want from life right now is to wind down from a long day. And now this. In just a few minutes the situation has gone from "This is adorable" to "Would you please just go away?". "Go away" were not the words going through my mind but I try not to curse often.
I click "view profile". To make matters even more entertaining, she works for a real estate company. A big one.
I reply, "I didn't correct you. You asked for an explanation. You got one. You're welcome to continue saying whatever you want. You're welcome to continue working for a real estate company and incorrectly use THE MOST commonly used real estate sentence. Now you have an opportunity to not be wrong every time you use it. That's a much preferable course of action than this child-like temper tantrum."
She began typing again. I blocked the conversation. My level of patience had been reached.
Attitudes to correction
I'm not an educator. I wouldn't advise any teachers to handle a situation like this how I did. But it does highlight a challenge that I'm sure many of you face. A large number of Thai people seem to have a complete inability to be corrected. The advice of "Here's how to say that right" always seems to be interpreted as "you're wrong".
Even in my own office. Completely unrelated to language. If I need to address a member of staff regarding process being executed incorrectly and proceed to train on more effective or efficient methods, I can expect absolute zero productivity from that member of staff for the remainder of the day. Or they just quit!
Language related, I continue to see no improvement in the English language skills of the Thai population. Many of the same syntax and grammatical errors continue to be used regularly. Instead, I see and hear much of the expat community resorting to what we endearingly call "Thinglish".
A brief and humble request to the expat community of Thailand: Please no speak like this, okay na! Natural and immersion learning will always be the most effective method(ology) for language. Continuing to speak in broken English only ensures the perpetuation of it.
To those taking on the challenge of learning a new language: If someone pays you the respect of taking the time to help you, please just say "Thanks".