So, I’m picking up a few items at Tesco Lotus in Bangkok and head for one of the “Express Checkout” lanes. There’s a big sign that clearly reads “Ten items or Less – Cash Only” in English and in Thai. There’s even a chrome pole blocking the entry of any shopping carts. With my little red basket containing only toothpaste, razor blades and toilet paper I’m thinking this is the line for me. With only two other people in the queue I’ll be out of there in no time right? Unfortunately both of the Thai shoppers in front of me are disregarding the sign completely. The first guy being checked out when I walked up had two little red baskets overflowing with stuff. The lady in front of me was busy shuttling between her big shopping cart parked just outside the checkout and the counter itself; all the while muttering curses at the chrome pole blocking her cart’s access. In total I counted 57 items she piled up right under the “Ten items or Less” sign. When it was my turn I mentioned the flagrant rule violations to the young cashier. She looked at me as if I’d just insulted the royal family.
The next day I was heading out for a meal with my missus behind the wheel. She pulled up to the curb right in front of this little Thai restaurant we frequent. When we got out of the car I noticed that she had parked right in the middle of a 10 meter stretch of curb painted with those bright red and white stripes that from my understanding of the Thai Driver’s Manual means “No Parking Anytime”. Just beyond this section of curb was a clear and legal stretch of space about 20 meters long. When I pointed out her flagrant infraction of the rules and suggested she adjust the position of her vehicle she walked over to the car, opened the driver’s side door and turned on flashing hazard lights. Shooting me a nasty look she said “We only stay to eat, not all day”. And that was the end of that conversation. When we left there was no ticket on the window, no locking boot on the wheel.
This picture above is taken on a Skytrain platform in Bangkok. This young Thai woman sauntered down the middle of the lane near the track clearly market “Keep Clear” in English and in Thai and stopped right on top of the sign itself. She continued to stand on top of the “clear zone” sign for 5 minutes with a BTS security guard about 5 steps away busy twirling his whistle around his finger and chatting up some girls. When we got on the train this same young lady waited for the automatic doors to close and leaned up against the sign on the door that says “Don’t Lean on the Doors”. As I looked down the line through the connecting train cars, all the doors were being leaned against.
After observing Thai people for nearly two decades in their native habitat I think I have finally figured out why they don’t follow rules. It’s because there is no danger of enforcement.
Why do Thai people break the rules? Because they can.