Someone Call HR!
Thai style. That's a phrase we hear/use often here. Basically it means that everything you're accustomed to back home (wherever that may be) is most likely not how things are done here. For instance, in the States we would probably have someone arrested for putting a child on motorbike but in Thailand it's not uncommon to see not one, but four children ranging in age from newborn-14 years old on one bike (btw, the 14 year old is the driver). And no, none of them have helmets on.
Today's trip to immigration was no different. We came equipped with passports in hand, our manager there to help, and no clue as to what we were doing there. As we sat and watched Patch take care of our extensions, we were caught off guard to see him giggling with the girl behind the desk. Flirting? No. They had a passport held at eye level and snapped their heads back to us five farang teachers sitting several feet away.
"Boy or girl?" is what we heard and immediately we knew whose passport they were holding.
Now, at home if we were at immigration and the worker was unsure of whether the person whose identification they were holding was male or female they would simply look for the M or F. No M or F? Then lets take a look at the name. Oh, the name is Pat, Alex, or Danny so you're not sure of their sex? Then the last resort would be to awkwardly motion towards that person, call their name, or get their attention without directly asking "Is this a boy or a girl?"
Side note: working in a restaurant for many years, I've been witness to servers walking up to a table and saying, "How's it going, ladies?" only to find that there is a male there, or likewise saying, "Gentlemen, what can I get you to drink tonight?" to find a very butch girl sitting with her back to you. We all know who usually gets more offended by such slip-ups.
Back to immigration: Now, let's say for some reason there is no way around asking if this is a boy or girl. Fine, you had to ask...let's move on and get your paperwork processed without making this an ordeal. But Thai Style begs to differ. The woman immediately called over all of her friends to check out this LadyBoy-like picture and to exchange giggles with everyone whose desk was in arms distance. Thai Style.
This would never happen at home. And if it did, it would be acknowledged when said Lady Boy was several yards away from the building. But man, am I glad that it did.
An hour sitting in the immigration office doing nothing but grading papers and chatting about upcoming weekends, we needed something to entertain us, especially since we had another two hours of teaching ahead of us.
So here's to you, you hair straightening, angsty teenage, ken doll you! We love you! (And just so you don't get too annoyed - I've included my College ID photo to keep things on an even keel -- we're not all babes all the time! #photofail).