A Pain In The Ass

A Day In The Life of Me

4:55 am Woke up as usual five minutes before the alarm in my ancient mobile phone was due to go off. Lie in bed, awake, thinking about the day to come – it’s a busy one, and a tight schedule, so thinking through routes to take, and how long to spend on things is worth the time.

I also realize that I have a pain in my ass. When I touch it, it hurts like hell. It’s a boil, left buttock . Fantastic, I’m thinking, I’ve got to deal with this all day too – okay – it is, what it is. Enough thinking.

5:15 am There’s a knock on the door. It’s Nui, my maid, with the day’s first coffee. French pressed with my Amazon ordered, Frieling Ultimo 23-Ounce French Press, costs seventy-five bucks, but set me back a cool $186.37, after shipping and tax. Well worth the price – great coffee every time. The coffee that goes in the press has been the same for the last twenty years, Suzuki Gold blend. I head out to the balcony and marry a Marlboro red to the coffee. More thinking time.

5:45 am Get the crappy stuff out of the way first. That way everything that follows is fun. I hate spreadsheets. I have a sneaky suspicion  they are the root of all evil. As Chief Executive Officer of Augmentis Group, it’s part of my job to look at spreadsheets – lots of them. Dashboards, Aged Receivables, P&L’s, AP, staff, sales metrics, website metrics, marketing metrics, to list but a few. Seriously, when you’re responsible for the careers and salaries for, as of today one hundred and fifty-three people spread across three countries, you have to look at a lot of spreadsheets. Numbers, if they’re input accurately, do not lie. So yeah, I suppose it’s kind of sad, but I start my day with the thing I hate most – and hate is way too strong a word – really dislike, more appropriate. ‘Coz u know… I’m just more of a right-brained kind of guy.

6:30 am Kids. Getting ready to go to school. Rubbing sleep out of eyes, elder kid firing up his iPad, younger kid having a little cry because she’s awake and sleep was really comfortable. Shut down the iPad – have a shower. Breakfast, school checklist – have you got your homework, gym kit – cool, okay. Have a great day – I’ve a got a meeting after work so I’ll probably see you tomorrow – be good.

7:30 am Email. Between the day job, writing job, and publishing job, I have a lot of correspondence. I love it. Being able to communicate with others across vast distances is uniquely human. It is the only thing that makes us different to anything else that is alive on this planet, or indeed, to our knowledge, in all existence. I’m not sure, because I haven’t thought about it much, but it may be one of the reasons I write. I’m very sure animals communicate, and in some cases, I reckon some animals might be able to tell stories – what they can’t do (so far as we know) is tell those stories beyond the realm of their physical surroundings. And if Howie the Asian Owl wants to have a chat with Woolly the American Owl; then he’s got a lot of night flying ahead of him. But we, amazingly, can send messages to each other instantly. Back when I first started work this only became possible with fax machines. So email is cool and I like to spend time doing it properly.

9:30 am Shower, food, second coffee of the day, second cigarette of the day. Start talking on the phone. I have two business partners (both fantastic guys at the top of their game) and six direct reports. We also have a multitude of business partners and project partners. My phone bill is huge, every month.

11:00 am Good time to drive, after rush hour before lunch hour – cuts an hour to twenty minutes. I don’t like talking on the phone or listening to the radio. I either listen to a huge stack of CD’s I have or think. Most of the time I think. Most of that thinking I try to spend on the current WIP, which as you know if you’ve been following the blog is, Bangkok Wet. Writing, it turns out, is only a small part of what you do as a writer – thinking plays a much bigger role.

11:45 am There’s no predicting traffic in Bangkok. A taxi bumps a delivery van on the expressway and by law they have to stay there until the cops or the insurance guys can spray paint little white hats around where the tires were. Yep. So twenty minutes becomes forty-five – cool 🙂 more time for plotting. But now we’re in the office. This is what it looks like:

We have 158 square meters of space on the eighteenth floor. Good place to be. The BTS, Bangkok Train Sky, (yep that’s it going by at the bottom of the pic) stops next door and there’s a reasonable amount of decent restaurants nearby. It’s a stones throw from three different Expressway routes, and from any of those you can connect to the other expressways, all of which makes for speedy travel around Bangkok (speedy travel has its own definition in Bangkok which I am not going to attempt to explain in this post).

And by now this pain in my ass has become a MAJOR pain in the ass. I deal with pain’s in the ass all the time – it’s part of the job – but those are metaphoric; now I was working up one hell of a literal benchmark on what pain in the ass really means. In the men’s room I, tentatively, feel the thing – shit – it’s the size of a golf ball, but it’s below the surface, and it hurts – a lot.

5:00 pm Leave office, ass on fire. But I’ve got a meeting at the Sheraton Grande on Sukhumvit. Got to do it. The route is simple. Sathorn, Rama 4, Rachadapisek, Sukhumvit, turn left into the Sheraton. Hard to think about plot while you’re sitting on a hot coal – hmm, okay you can use the pain for the description. How does the pain feel? Where do you actually feel pain? How is that pain registered? What is the pain doing to your thoughts? How is the pain affecting your body movements? How is the pain affecting your mood?

5:30 pm Find the plushest sofa in the Living Room of the Sheraton Grande. It takes ten minutes for a waitress to notice me. Finally she walks over.

“Excuse me, are you open?” I say to her, in English.

“Oh yes, sir.” Also said in English.

“Then why I have been sitting here for ten minutes while you’ve been chatting with your friend at the bar.” Said in Thai.

“Sorry, sir, can I get you anything?”

“Yes, a half of Hoegaarden, please.”

“Yes, sir.”

… And while I’m on the subject, the Sheraton Grande, bills itself as Luxury Collection and charges top dollar – guys – I opened every door myself, waited ten minutes for service in a bar where I was one of four customers, and four waitresses; and the Chorizo with the sauce – I’ve had better in Manila (which, if you know food in Manila, is a long way off good).

Anyway… Two minutes after displaying my displeasure, an ice cool Hoegaarden, is in front of me. A long sip later, I force myself into a better mood. Between the plushness of  the sofa and the beer, my ass fades into the background, where asses should be.

9:00 pm Good meeting, worth the pain in ass. Nice guy, decent jazz to listen to in the background and some good business opportunities for next year – looks like a long term opportunity in a strong market. Find my car. I’ve only had two halves of Hoegaarden, so good to go. Sit down, jump up. Someone just stabbed my ass with a red hot assegai  (a Zulu spear for those wondering). Drive, sitting on my right buttock as much as I can. The car park guy wants two hundred baht for parking (note to Sheraton – have you ever wondered that these small details are the difference between luxury and greedy – just sayin’).

Only one place I’m headed now and that’s the hospital. Call my wife, Pim, give her the good news. She offers to come down – I say don’t it’s no sweat – say goodnight to the kids for me – okay, she says, call me if you need me (yes, I know, my luck astounds me, she’s amazing).

Just past the intersection of Sukhumvit and Nana, opposite the KFC, a cop is beeping his motorcycle horn at me – shit, forgot to put my seat belt on (quick note: pain also makes you forget things). I stop in the fast lane, hazards on. The cop stops behind me. he steps up to the passenger-side window. I lower the window.

“License, please.” He says in perfect English, a smile on his round face. I hand him my British Driver’s license, same one I’ve been using here for the last twenty-three years.

“What’s the problem?” I ask him in Thai.

“You have license, Inter? (“Inter” means international) he say’s in not so perfect English, ignoring my question.

“No, that license is legal for those in the Kingdom less than 30 days and I flew in from Singapore 18 days ago, in and out all the time – so legal – anyway, what’s the problem?” I answer in Thai.

“You no wear seat belt?” Now he’s talking Thai – this automatically reduces the amount of the bribe I’ll have to pay.

“That’s right because I was driving under twenty kilometers an hour.”  In Thai.

“That’s not the Law the law says you have to wear a seat belt.”

“Well, I’m not going to argue with you, if you don’t know the law, just write up the ticket.” You see I made a New Year’s resolution that I wasn’t going to bribe any more cops. It’s a small thing, but for years I’ve been saying that “I never bribe anyone”, but always with the caveat and exclusion of “Except when I get pulled over for speeding or some other traffic offense” – “It’s like road tax.” And the truth is that I’ve bribed, well I haven’t added it up, but I’m sure well over a hundred cops in all the time I’ve been here.

By now the traffic behind us has piled up back to the intersection and the cops at the intersection can’t change the lights to green because we’re blocking the way. His radio goes off and there’s a garbled squawking, to which he says into his radio, “Krub, Krub, Krub pomme.” Which I take to mean that he’s just been ordered by someone to do something. I smile at him.

“You drive your car over to the tollway area under the bridge.”

“No. I’m not going that way – I’m going down Soi 1 to the hospital.” (Soi 1 is the road just before the bridge but it’s all one way).

“You’re blocking the road here.”

“I know, you asked me to stop here. All I want to do is go to the hospital.” You might be wondering  why we’re having this conversation, and the answer is: the cop wants me to go to the dark area under the bridge so he can hit me up for somewhere between two hundred and four hundred baht (depending on my negotiation skills and his patience) – he doesn’t want to write up a ticket because that’s paperwork for him with no reward.

He gives me a sour look and tosses my license on the passenger seat.

“You can go. But the law is you have to wear a seat belt.” I don’t say anything, but it is with a small sense of satisfaction (and a really sore ass) that I turn down Soi 1.

9:30 pm In the emergency room at Bumrungrad Hospital, after going to patient registration where there were no staff, being sent to the second floor where I was finally re-directed to ER, naturally on the Ground floor. None of this is helping the pain in my ass.

“I’m sorry, sir, but there might be quite a wait.”

“How long?”

“Well, the doctor’s in OR now and there are five in front of you in the queue, maybe a couple of hours….”

9:45 pm Back in car. Drive past the fat cop as I head up the on-ramp to the Expressway, wearing my seat belt – give him another smile. He looks at me like he’s carved in stone. Heading home. Screw it, I’ll take some painkillers and get this pain in the ass dealt with first thing in the morning. See the sign for Kasemrad Hospital on the Expressway home, change my mind, because, man – this thing hurts like hell.

10:15 Kasemrad Hospital is to Bumrungrad, like a Holiday Inn is to the Ritz Carlton. No sweat – this should be a relatively straightforward, lance, clean and patch job – a nurse should do most of it. They’re more efficient than Bumrungrad and have more patients sitting around. Of course I’m the only farang there, but that’s normal for me. The doctor is young. Young and too scared to operate on a farang.

“I need to admit you and tomorrow you can see our specialist.”

“No. Not going to be admitted – you got any strong painkillers?”

I have another smoke, before sitting down in the car again – I imagine it’s how soldiers in the trenches must have felt before going over the top.

11:00 pm Shower. Hot water hits ass, more ways to describe pain in future novels.

11:15 pm Email – It’s evening in the UK and I have to sort out final touches to paperback edition with, Ned; after a few emails back and forwards we’re good to go – Ned will upload to CreateSpace (we’re now in wait for them mode).

Midnight – take the drugs the Doctor gave me – Goodnight.

P.S. The rather large abscess was finally taken care of Saturday morning – I now have more ways to describe sweet, blessed, relief.