After you have been in Thailand for a while, there are some things you start to forget about your homecountry. Things like the level of service given to you at petrol stations. I just take it all for granted these days. As I drive into a petrol station, someone usually leaps up from his seat and waves me to a particular pump. He then comes to my window and stands smartly at attention while he waits for me to wind down the window. I tell him which petrol and how much. He bows and then goes off to fill up my car. Another guy then comes and asks if I want him to empty my rubbish bin. He will also clean the windscreen or check the tyre pressure. When I drive away, they will stand to the attention by my door and bow or wai. All of this is part of the service. You come to expect this and don’t really pay much attention. And on the days when I don’t get 2 or 3 guys fussing around my car, I smile and say to myself, “It is not like it was as in the old days”. Now, I am not talking about the 1950’s. As that is probably how far you have to go back in America before you see that kind of service. It does still happen here in Thailand. It just isn’t as common as it used to be.
A few weeks ago, I was coming back from a trip with some FOBs (fresh off the boat). I stopped at one of my local petrol stations as I needed to get my car washed. Now, back in the UK I would never do things like that. Why waste money when you could wash the car yourself? But, this is Thailand and things are different. The car wash is automated. You drive up onto a kind of conveyor belt and are taken along for various washes and a blow dry at the end. Well, before I even started, two guys came up and started soaping the car down and using a high pressure hose to remove some of the dirt. They were soon joined by a third person. One of the FOBs speculated aloud that this was going to be expensive. I said “wait and see”. A short while later I was up on the conveyor belt and the car was having a thorough wash and blow dry. At the far end we were waved into a parking spot where four new people started to wipe and clean the car. I told the FOBs to get out of the car so that the cleaners could wipe inside and also shake out the mats. So, how much was all of this? Surprisingly for so much service, it only cost 50 baht. That is about $1.30.
I know prices are bound to go up in time, but I just hope that one thing that won’t change is the level of service here. That is one thing that makes Thailand so special.