I have met so many interesting people in my travels I could write a novel. I probably should be talking more about the ones that stand out to me so they don’t disappear in the myriad of nameless faces in my memory.
Although some people you wish would sort of just fade into your memory and be tucked away forever where you don’t have to think about them. This would be the case with Carl, our newest member of the foreign language teachers, hailing from Kentucky. He has traveled around Asia teaching science and has been hired on by Bangkok Success to teach in Bung Kan. Carl is one person I wish I had never met. I have such conflicting emotions towards him its exhausting! I hate to say this but I can’t help but think our agency might have made a mistake bringing Carl here. He’s just…such a serious, abrupt, stony faced old man who likes to complain about everything. He never smiles, he doesn’t try to speak Thai and gets upset when they don’t understand English, he’s a bit rude, and he is THE PICKIEST eater I have ever run across. He doesn’t like pork, he doesn’t like seafood (but he does like fish), everything is too spicy (everything.), and he can’t eat peanuts or carrots because of his teeth (although I was impressed with the way he spit out every single bit of peanut in his pad thai). He got upset with Martee at dinner because all he wanted was water and, while we were waiting for a new glass, Martee tried to give him a glass of coke. And then he dissected his omelet before ordering another because “it was too burned” (it wasn’t even). It’s stressful being around him because he really rubs the Thais the wrong way and I don’t want to be associated with his attitude and behaviors.
Despite all of this, I have a bit of a soft spot for him. I was called in to pick him up from the bus stop and from day one I have vacillated between wanting to kill him and feeling annoying pangs of sympathy for him. Once I met him in the 7-11 and on he way back he was walking a ways in front of me, and just as I was silently making fun of him a bit in my head he put down the heavy case of water he was holding, slumped his shoulders in exhaustion, and wiped the sweat off his forehead…in that moment he just looked so old and alone and vulnerable I thought damn it, Carl…and instantly felt bad for him and wanted to help. He doesn’t quite fit in, and no one is very nice to him so I feel like I have to be nice to him. That and he comes to me when there is no one else who can or will help him. Everyone needs someone, I guess by some twist of fate I have become Carl’s someone. It’s annoying, but I cant help but have this feeling that I need to try and befriend him…maybe it’s a lesson in patience and compassion tailor made for me. Maybe someday I will hear his backstory and everything will make sense. Until then….my goal is to make him smile. Just once. Just one, teensy, fleeting smile.