“I’m in a meeting, but yes, I can talk.”

I hate technology Jeff wrote on his laptop computer which sits next to his iPod, Kindle and digital camera.  I fight new technology for as long as I can.  I used a 1970s Nikon single-lens reflex camera until the summer of 2009.  In the states, I listened to records more than my iPod.  I would not own a Kindle if I was within five hours of a good used-book shop.

When I shop for a cell phone, I really mean it when I say I just want it to have good reception and be able to text.  I’m always told I’ll regret getting something so simple later, but I never do.

There are certain cell phone courtesies that mature people follow in the states and apologize profusely when they accidentally don’t follow them.  The main one is switch your ringer to Silent when in a meeting and if it does ring, at the most, tell the person you’re in a meeting and will call them back.

In Thailand, all bets are off.

I recently attended a meeting and cursed myself 20 minutes into it for I remembered I still had my ringer on.  It didn’t ring, I just remembered and shut it off.  Less than 10 minutes later, someone’s ringer went off and I thought, I’m not the only one.  But he didn’t look upset at himself.  In fact, he took a good look at who was calling before picking it up.  Then he proceeded to talk to the person as if there was no meeting happening around him.

Here a Thai man have a cell-phone conversation during a wedding ceremony.

This is common.  It’s not that Thais are obnoxious; it’s that all the other Thais are apathetic to someone having a conversation during a meeting.  They really don’t care.

And the volume of the cell phone ringers says volumes about the Thai.  They love everything loud – music, microphones, cell phones and, many times, their own voices.  I’m not sure if most Thai people realize their phones will vibrate without sound while it’s in their pocket.

But no one really cares.  Thai people have a much greater attention span than Americans and a much, much longer fuse.  Intelligently, they don’t sweat the small stuff.  Mai bpen rai they say when a problem arises, which roughly translates to, “No worries,” or, “It’s all good.”

An American might freak out if someone spoke on their phone during a meeting.  A Thai person could care less.  Can we meet somewhere in the middle?


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