Delivery Driver Chronicles: 133 Perry

Delivery Driver Chronicles: 133 Perry

Stop givingThis is another chapter from the book I have written on my time as a delivery driver (Not titled Delivery Driver Chronicles)

 

It’s probably not a big surprise that you come across some truly disgusting people while delivering. For every super hot sorority girl who opens the door in her pj’s and a tank top you’re likely to get about 10 repugnant slobs that you wish you had never had the displeasure of seeing in your life. Many of them regrettably sans tank top.

The smell that some of these places can emit is unforgettable; often balancing between cat piss and just normal human piss, mixed with dashes of excrement and various other mystery fragrances unbeknownst to science.

There are few things worse than a customer insisting you come inside while they pay for food and realize that their entire carpet is just a layer of dog food bags and various other items of trash that carpets are not supposed to be made of. I probably could have abstained from going inside with something along the lines of “that’s ok, Sir” and stayed outside.

But like a horrific car accident where everyone slows down to analyze the carnage, part of me was always fascinated with what was inside. Could this particular trailer take the title for the official new grossest place I had ever seen? This question was always on my mind. I had to know.

I have no qualms with people who decide to reside in trailer parks (or mobile homes if you’re trying to class it up). Every once in awhile you could come across some damn nice trailers that made you question why you were coughing up the money you were for your non-moveable home, but all in all these places were consistently the breeding grounds for the absolute worst of conditions, and the absolute worst of people.

The most disgusting trailer park of all of them, the king of kings, was without a doubt 133 Perry. It looked like what I imagine a cross between hell and a trash dump would look like. The road leading in had long ago been forgotten by any city officials, falling into a state of disrepair that is hard to explain without witnessing.

Craters big enough to swallow an entire semi truck tire pocked the whole approach. But it wasn’t the road that made 133 Perry so awful, it was its inhabitants and the trailers they lived in.

Where there are “luxury” trailer parks that mimic normal home living, 133 Perry more closely resembled a bombed out refugee camp. Rent ranged somewhere between $100 to $200 a month, if that gives any indication of the socio-economic status of the locals. By far the worst trailer was trailer #5. I’m convinced that trailer #5 was the entrance to hell; or at least the Kansas sector of it.

I couldn’t find trailer #5 the first time I went there. Lost in the jungle of run down hell holes, I walked aimlessly around for an indeterminate amount of time trying to find the illusive #5.

“OVER HERE”

“OVER HERRRREEE”

Something told me that was probably what I was looking for. I made my way over to where the voice was coming from and finally found it. And it wasn’t very surprising that I hadn’t found it because it was an absolute trash hoarder’s paradise.

I shit you not when I tell you that they had an entire second trailer solely devoted to holding all of the various cardboard boxes, old televisions, and radiators they had decided were too dear to part with over the years. The porch entrance consisted of more trash items haphazardly stacked together to form a sort of wall to the outside world.

“Come on in, guy”

 

This was one time where I was very close to abstaining; but for the sake of a future book I had no idea I was going to write yet, I obliged. You know those movies where the cops go into an apartment where a murder scene had taken place and the new guy immediately starts puking his guts out in the corner? This was pretty much that. It was the embodiment of awful.    

As far as I could tell there were three occupants, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a gollum like creature lurking somewhere in the depths. The smell of old rotten food, urine, and habitually unwashed human beings was launched like a bullet at your senses and kept firing for long after you left. It was nearly a physical wall of smell that one had to scratch and claw through to survive.

Inside of the trailer looked like a scene directly out of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The kitchen looked like they had cooked a huge feast then left all of the dirty pans, plates, and utensils around to be washed at a later time. Except that feast must have been ten years before, allowing every bit of food clinging to said pans and dishes to fester and rot.

I still don’t know if I managed to stand there the entire time with my mouth not gaped in both amazement and horror at what I was seeing, but I probably did in an effort to not taste the nearly solid smell of filth in the air.

The family of three sat at what I guess you could call the living room table, but was really just the only area in the trailer not completely inundated with junk. There was the man who had retrieved me and his wife, both in maybe their mid fifties. The third was a woman of similar age, but was of grotesque weight and donned a neck beard of epic proportions.

I’ll never forget how she sat there in giddy silence, bobbing back and forth clapping her hands all the while with the widest grin possible. Not a welcoming friendly grin mind you, but a grin that haunts your dreams. Never said a word, never took her eyes off of me. Just bobbing and clapping.

 

“Oh it’s finally here!” said the wife

 

“SHUT UP, WOMAN”

 

“Oh just give him the money, Dale”

 

“I said SHUT UP”

All the while the bearded woman still sat there, bobbing away.

What the hell was going on here? They weren’t even arguing, that’s just how he talked to her. Putting the shut up in all caps doesn’t even begin to convey just how guttural and loud it was. I waited as Dale counted out dollar bills and various coinage, the money very likely being rife with all sorts of diseases contracted from this trailer from hell.

“Oh would you hurry up, Dale? The man’s waiting”

“I SAID SHUT UP. SHUT YOUR DAMN MOUTH, WOMAN. There you go, son. Have a nice day”

The literal instant that last penny touched my hand I was already out the door and booking it full speed to my car. The only thought reverberating through my head being “what the hell was I just a part of?”

Needless to say I abstained from ever going inside Trailer #5 again. I had enough of an experience there to last a lifetime.

I can only think of one other time that holds a candle to the weirdness of that fateful #5 incident; also coincidentally enough taking place at a trailer park, albeit not 133 Perry. This particular trailer park is long gone, likely demolished for not meeting the bare minimum of human living conditions. The parking lot was of similar quality, forever threatening to tear your axles to pieces.

Luckily in this case I didn’t have to walk around for 15 minutes to find the place, but the situation wasn’t that much better. As I parked my car there was a lone boy in the parking lot just kicking a rock around for fun. He looked up at me, made eye contact, and ran. Lovely.

He runs to the trailer I’m supposed to deliver to and slams the door behind him, so I guess I’ll follow him. As I walk up the ramp leading to the door he comes back out again, promptly slamming the door again behind him. The boy quite simply looked like a character taken straight out of the Hills Have Eyes.

There had been a definite one or more generations of intra family fornication going on to produce this kid. In a southern twang that I didn’t know existed west of the Mississippi, he looks at me and utters one single phrase.

“Careful. We got dogs”

“Ok….”

He then takes the pizzas, stares at me, and in one swift motion turns the boxes from their correct upright position to sideways, undoubtedly causing everything to slop down to the other end of the box. Never breaking eye contact.

“No don’t do th…”

Before I could finish he had opened the door and slammed it in my face. When he opened it again to give me the money, I finally got a glimpse inside. Where I had seen sparsely furnished trailers before, this one literally had nothing. The walls didn’t even have wallpaper on them; it was just bare plywood.

The dogs he had warned me about were in fact not feral beasts waiting to rip my throat at all, but two mange infested chihuahuas. The Hills Have Eyes boy promptly gave me the check, not surprisingly written down for its exact amount (needless to say, trailer parks were stiffing havens), looked at me one last time, then shut the door behind him again.

Not quite as awful and deplorable as #5, but just weird as hell. Oh how I wish I could have seen what those pizzas looked like afterwards.    

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Floor People

Floor People

Floor peopleOne particularly sad and disgusting case that belongs right beside #5 in the annals of deplorable places was the aptly named “Floor People”. Dwelling in one of Lawrence’s many fine trailer parks, the floor people will forever haunt mine and many others memories and nasal passages alike.

Now you might think that floor people would refer to the aforementioned dog food bag/trash adorned floors, but it was much, much worse. And as much as it smelled like they had enough pets to cover the entire world with these bags, they had none as far as I could tell.

The floor people were a husband and wife who quite literally lived on the floor of their completely unfurnished trailer, barring a lone television sitting in the middle of the room facing the door. Ranging somewhere between 300 to 400 lbs, they had long ago given up using their legs as a source of locomotion, instead relying solely on crawling and perhaps rolling to move around their estate.

Floor people seemed to be a pretty fitting name for them, although someone else long before me had coined the term. The smell as you got out of your car and approached closer to the door got exponentially worse and worse with every step, most likely due to the fact that neither of them had bathed in roughly a decade. As soon as you knocked on the door you had a finite amount of fresh air breathing left, as there was generally a delay of 15 to 20 seconds between the time you had knocked on the door and when it was opened as one of the inhabitants slinked over from their designated TV watching floor space.

The stench went from comically bad to so horrendous that I often had to fight back the urge to vomit right then and there. I would generally try to take my last breath as soon as I heard their large paws fiddling with the much smaller door handle, and would hold it for the entire transaction. When one studies military history, you often read of the incomparably awful stench that inhabits a battlefield after combat. The smell of blood, death, and decay is often what burns most deeply into survivors’ minds. Going to the floor people’s trailer was the only thing I could ever imagine that could mimic such conditions.

On that note I’d like to thank our servicemen for not only protecting our country but also enduring this ungodly stench without soldering their nasal passages closed with a welder. Whenever the door was finally opened, the expectation of meeting someone at roughly eye level was instead a massive outstretched arm coming from below your waist. Any normal pleasantries such as a “Hello, how are you doing?” or “Have a good day!” were thrown out in an attempt to not inhale any of the possibly deadly smells into one’s lungs, so I would just stand there in silence holding my breath as I waited to receive my payment; I would then then promptly run away immediately afterwards gasping for non-noxious air. It really was that bad.

The floor people eventually became the singular floor person, and then no floor folk at all. All malice aside I truly hope that they somehow received help, and a shower, but something tells me their lifestyle caught up with them in the worst possible way. That being said I was quite happy when the day came that I didn’t have to go to that godforsaken trailer anymore.

What Not To Do In Vietnam

What Not To Do In Vietnam

I myself sometimes still have trouble believing this happened, but I assure you that it did. Ultimately it’s probably a wise lesson for would be travelers; and if nothing else, it’s one hell of a story. I do NOT want it to make it sound like Vietnam or southeast Asia in general is a scary place. And I most definitely do not want to scare anyone from travelling.. This is the story of Andy getting robbed, and what not to do when travelling.

The night started exactly how I expected my last night with my buddy Mike in Saigon to start, alcohol. By this point I had been drinking for pretty much a month straight because that’s what one does in Asia, but it would have been foolish not to send things off with a bang. Jameson, beers, tequila, and a bottle of Jaeger (it was at least shared with the many beautiful bar employees), go figure Mike and I were thoroughly plastered.

While you could argue that I was handling my liquor better than him, such details have little relevance now. Off to the shit hole known as Bui Vien street. Tourist and tourist thieving haven.My doom.

We get out of the cab and aimlessly walk to the first bar we see. I need money. ATM. This is where it starts to go downhill.

I leave Bui Vien looking for an ATM that will take my card, which seems to be a rarity in Vietnam. As I’m walking, minding my own business, a motorbike pulls up
alongside me. In a country where hearing a language you can understand comes
around almost never, this stuck out like a sore thumb.

“Hey you, you want to buy some pot?”

I should have turned around right then and there. Nothing good can come of this. If any story could scare someone away from buying drugs, from strangers no less, this is it.

“I got the good stuff man”

“No thanks, man”

“I’m telling you, way better than the shit you can buy down here.”

I bite, my first mistake.

“How much?”

“You come smoke a joint with me, we’ll talk prices”

Now if any of you at this point have stopped reading in disappointment that I’m
considering purchasing marijuana, then I have nothing for you. Now if you’re
saying “damn it Andy you idiot don’t go buy pot from a stranger”, then yes, you
are correct. I am an idiot. A particularly drunk very easily tricked idiot. I
get on the motorbike.

He drives me to a street food restaurant what I think was several kilometers away. Every voice in my head is screaming “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?????” at the top of its lungs. We wait for a few minutes as he makes calls and small chat. I’m pretty much breaking every rule in the logical human survival book at this point by having gone with him, and staying seated. I blame the Jaeger for that. Eventually another guy comes on a motorbike and brings a bag.

The original motor bike driver, who will further be known as shithead #1, strips a
cigarette and replaces it with some pot, producing an impromptu joint. We smoke
it. It’s OK, not quite the good stuff he had boasted about. But really at this
point I just want to get the hell out of there. I say I’ll buy some just to
appease him. I notice that I am slowly getting out of the realm of negotiation
as multiple people emerge from dark corners and start to surround me.

The next words out of his mouth were the most pathetic excuse for a lie I’ve ever heard.

“I’m a cop”

I know damn well you’re not a cop, and all the fake badges and mace you’ve shown me isn’t going to convince me. Oh yeah, there’s a can of mace in my face at this point. The 3 guys standing around me undoubtedly carrying knives and the gun he keeps mentioning and reaching for in his pocket me is enough to make me compliant. And shithead #1 seems to get particularly testy when his authority is questioned after this point, so I play along for the sake of survival. Mind you I’m rather drunk and stoned by now, and in no state of mind to put together an escape. Yet.

“You’re going to give us $500 so we don’t take you to the station”

“No I will give you $200”

“Mother fucker I will shoot you”

“All I have left in my bank is $200”

“Ok you leave your wallet with me and we go to the ATM”

“No, I will leave you my phone. That’s it”

I have no idea where I got off negotiating with thieves but I’ll chalk it up to drunk
courage and/or stupidity. So at this point shithead #4, knowing I’ve given in,
has disappeared. Shithead #1 and #2 are on their own motorbike. I give my phone
to #1 and am told to get on shithead #3’s bike to go to the ATM. It was around
the time we arrived to the ATM and I got off that motorbike that I realized I
needed to do something.

Taking quick stock of the situation, I realize that #1 and #2 are nowhere to be seen. #3 is sitting there plum for the taking. Coming to the realization for the first
time that you are going to have to do something very bad to someone to save yourself
is a very sobering experience. I’m not sure the extent of what I was going to
do, but to be honest I wasn’t leaving out a lot of options at this point. #3 is
still alone. I beckon him to come over. This is it. Adrenaline boils over. Fist
is clenched.

  Right as I’m about to make my move, #1 and #2 double back.

“I’ll fucking shoot you if you don’t go back to that ATM right now.”

Plan A fails. Back to the ATM. I get the money then come back to the bike. Two hundred dollars in Vietnamese money is a whopping 4 million Dong. I give it to #1.

“Ok can I at least have my phone back?”

“You get on the bike or I’ll fucking shoot you. We will give you your phone later”

I’m starting to realize that 1) I’m not getting my phone back, and 2) I’m pretty damn sure that gun in his pocket is either fake or not loaded, and #1 barks louder than he bites. He sure does bark though. Not a good time to find out. I get back on #3’s scooter and realize my move has to come real soon. They start to drive me all over random streets of Saigon, too fast for me to do anything or jump off. At one point we stop again on a highway onramp and #1 says he needs to see my wallet.

“No”

After more threats of shooting me, stabbing me, and all the other various methods that could be used to off me, we moved again. We drive some more and arrive on a small backstreet in God knows where. Somewhere in Saigons massive territory, no
doubt. We stop one last time and #1 say’s in a very different, altogether much
more menacing tone

“This is it, give us your wallet now.”

My stubbornness persists and I refuse to hand it over. He says something to #2 and #3 and then speeds off. I assume this is where I get taken to an alley and stabbed. We get to an intersection. OK. It’s time.

Plan B: grab #3’s shirt and use him to slow myself down, hit him very hard, run. I wait until #1 and #2 are about 100 feet ahead. I grab on to his shirt, jump off, and pull. To my absolute horror, the fucking shirt rips and he doesn’t move an inch, still firmly planted on his bike. I didn’t have a  plan C. He starts to yell frantically for help to #1 and #2. I look forward to see them stop to turn around and double back to save support #3. The second part of plan B is still doable. I hit him with the mother of all drunk punches right in his teeth. And I run.

Now I am not a fast man. My sprinting technique is much like a barrel rolling over and over. But I’m fully convinced I could have bested Usain Bolt that night.

Go go go go go.

Don’t stop

Don’t stop

Who knows if they are still chasing me, who knows if that gun was real, but at this point I’m not going to try to find out. And no matter how well I can defend myself,
me vs 3 gangsters with knives and a lone can of mace doesn’t seem like a wise
decision (although #3 was very likely out of commission).

I find the first side street I see and go down it. Cut to the right down an alley. Dead end. Keep going down another alley. I make the turn and keep running, knocking
over an untold amount of pots and pans and other utensils along the way. I
hurdle over a partitioning wall between two homes and I trip.

I had landed in a fucking rooster pen. A fighting rooster, no less.

The rooster immediately started to attack me but I managed to fight it off with a few well placed kicks and swats. It dawned on me just how ridiculous all of this is at this point. What in the hell had I gotten myself into? I’m in a damn rooster pen. On top of that I’m still not sure I’m in the clear. And to make matters worse I’m at another gated dead end, complete with spikes and barbed wire. I get ready to hide with the pissed off rooster.

Out of nowhere I hear commotion on the other side of the wall. It must be them. Rather than die in a rooster pen, I decided I was going to fight to the death in an
alley in Saigon. Not really how I imagined going out, but at least I’d have a
good story to tell to my new friends whether I ended up going up or down. I
stand up, fists clenched, ready to battle. Turns out that it wasn’t the thieves
at all, but the family who’s stuff I’d just barreled through, wondering why
there’s a big sweaty white man in their alley. I unclench my fists and
desperately try to explain what has happened. Zero English.

I’m sweaty and cut and bleeding from multiple places, including a tooth sized gash on my knuckle. The man stares at me in a mixture of anger and bewilderment at the crazy looking westerner in his backyard. Then my savior comes. A teenage boy
emerges from the same house. He says he speaks a little English. I desperately
explain to him what has happened, begging for mercy. After moments of
deliberation, he invites me in.

There’s a family of 6-8 confused Vietnamese folks that I’ve woken up at 2 in the morning. I look for the boy to tell them that I am so sorry and that I will be forever
grateful, but he’s gone. The man who had originally barred my entrance gestures
me to sit in a small plastic stool by the backdoor. He brings me some rags to
clean myself up, some water, and a cigarette. I rarely get much joy out of a
cigarette. I enjoy them from time to time while drinking, but have never found
the deep cathartic comfort that smokers get as they take that initial drag.
This was the best damn cigarette of all time. And not only that, I was safe.
Finally safe.

I sat there for several minutes taking deep drags of this relief stick and reflecting on what in the hell had just happened, inspecting my various wounds and clothing tears. That rooster had got me good, but I was alive. The man laughed at me as I kept trying to shut the back door. He still had no idea what the hell had happened.   

The boy came back 15 minutes later with the police. The police chief, in top professional manner, was wearing flip flops. While I will forever be thankful for the gesture, any efforts to describe my robbers at a police station where essentially no one speaks English seemed more than I could handle after the night I had had. I tell the boy to tell them it’s OK and if they could get me a taxi that would be enough. I just want to go “home”, I just want to sleep.

Thus ended the most ridiculous,terrifying, and life changing night of my life. My confidence in humanity was not only shaken but also restored in the course of several hours. I had lost my phone and a decent amount of money, but I still had my wallet, and more importantly…my life. I found out later that #1 is actually a “famous” thief around Saigon, unleashing similar terror upon drunken tourists across the city.
So if you ever happen to travel to Saigon and someone asks you to buy pot off a
motorbike, chances are it’s the fake cop robber of the Pham Ngu Lao area. You’ll know its him because he looks just like the guy in that picture. Punch and run.

Read the follow up post here: Tiger

Tiger

Tiger

I was scared shitless when I first got to Da Nang. That’s the only way to put it. Having just been robbed in Saigon days before, travelling alone felt more like walking through an apocalypse than it did a journey. I trusted no one, and watched over my belongings like a hawk. Everyone I encountered was a potential enemy. It was a terrible place to be. Not Da Nang, but in my head. Da Nang though, Da Nang was lovely.

Having spent most of my time in Saigon during my time in Vietnam, Da Nang was altogether different. Quieter (in Vietnam terms), less packed, and of course there was a beach. I didn’t intend to spend much time there, it was merely the cheapest way to get to Hong Kong, my next destination. I found a three star hotel close to the beach, I decided to splurge. It was the one the best $20 I spent on that trip.

I had one day to spend in Da Nang. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to leave the hotel room. I just wanted to get out of Vietnam. I had had a great time, but after the robbery ordeal I was done with the place. Or so I thought.

I at least had to check out the beach. It was 750 meters to the shore, which is roughly .5 gallons of sweat in Vietnam. Like the rest of Vietnam, its a place of contrasts. New hotels smacked right next to hovels. People with cars living next to people…with no cars. If there is a sign of wealth in Vietnam, it’s a car. I paid my 20,000 dong chair fee ($1), found the area with the least amount of people in it, and sat.

I tried to read, I tried to think, but I couldn’t stop assessing the situation, wondering if anyone around was planning to rob me at any second. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I couldn’t shake the paranoia… even though I knew damn well it was unwarranted. There were just a few locals enjoying their afternoon, and a group of guys that looked to be Russian. The worst of the foreigners you can run into overseas, besides Americans.

I finally got the courage to leave my things on the chair, and go to the water. That might have been the hardest things I’ve done. Not really, but it wasn’t easy. Even though I had nothing valuable left to steal, I guarded what things I did have left like a dog patrolling around its bowl. My day bag, my Nalgene, my $8 (or 160,000 Dong), and the hard cover book that I had foolishly lugged along with me but refused to leave behind, were like valuable jewels to me.

But oh the water felt nice. The waves were shit, but a lifelong body surfer can make do. Outside of the few waves I caught, my eyes never left my bag, bottle, book, or $8. Two of the supposed Slavs waded into the water within speaking distance of me. If I learned anything from travelling, and what most Americans would be baffled by, it was that not all white people speak English. I didn’t expect much conversation.

Not so bad, huh?

Jens and Kasper weren’t Russian at all. They were from Denmark. On the beach were Sonny and Thomas. The power of language, and being able understand the same one, is amazing when stuck in a place where you haven’t successfully pronounced a single word of the local language yet. I told the group my robbery story, as it was too good not to share. As scared of general human contact as I initially was, I was still in awe of the ridiculousness that had happened to me in Saigon.

I met the Danes for dinner that evening at Family Indian Restaurant, about 2 blocks from my classy ass hotel. One would ask “why would you eat Indian in Da Nang?” It is a good question. You’d think I would be feasting on local delicacies like fish, crab, and other sea goodness. The first deterrent was that it was incredibly expensive, not just for Vietnam but for anywhere. And these weren’t tourist places, these were local spots. Along with this, menus were rarely translated, and your chances of a waiter or waitress speaking English are laughable at best. It’s best to have a local with you. We did not have such luxury.

There was a place along the main beach strip I think I would have been able to order from quite easily. On its billboard was a cute cat, looking inquisitive as if it had been held in place for the photo with a piece of string. And then right below that cute, inquisitive cat was the picture of possible same cat being spit roasted. As appalling as the sign was… the crackly brown cat admittedly looked delicious.

So not in the mood to spend exorbitant amounts on mystery food, or eating crispy cat meat, we decided on Indian. And I should say the Family Indian Restaurant is amazing. And so was the Tiger. So many Tigers.

Tiger is THE beer of Da Nang. Although it is sold in other parts of Vietnam, they are downright obsessed with the stuff in Da Nang. It’s sold everywhere, and its cheap. Usually about a dollar, give or take. Beer is almost never served in the can, instead it is served in a glass with ice. Most westerners scoff at the idea, and while drinking a hoity toity craft IPA in similar fashion would be blasphemous, you grow to enjoy the custom. We didn’t know if it was proper etiquette to fill everyone else’s glass with ice when we filled ours, we just did it. It seemed right.

In desperation to find another drinking spot, me and the Danes, sans Sonny, set off to find a bar. Only there were no bars, none that we could find. We walked up the strip, stopping for road beers at every convenience store along the way. Beer and cigarettes. When they’re a dollar a pack, you smoke em’. You smoke a lot of em’. We couldn’t find a single bar. Only restaurants packed with locals.

Finally we took the plunge and found a table at one of the lesser packed, although still busy as hell, restaurants. Every eye in the building trained to the 1 American and the 3 Danes as they sat down. We were like exhibits at a zoo. Tigers, even. Occasionally a brave soul from the table next to us would sneak away and have someone else in the group take a picture of them with us, always with the peace sign fingers. Always. They then retreated away like they had just survived something. We ordered round 1 of Tigers. Ice in Glass. Cigarettes.

So many Tigers. So many cigarettes. It was somewhere around Tiger 4 or 5 that I completely forgot that I had been robbed, that I had met these guys on a beach that day, or any other apprehensions or fears that I had had when I first got to Da Nang. Three best friends I had never known I had had, born 4500 miles apart.

The other table still fawned over us like we were celebrities. In many parts of Vietnam, and Asia in general, being white might as well make you famous. It’s a supremely desirable trait to them, going as far as using skin whitening soap to keep their pale complexion. Finally we decided to go over and see them, like we had something to offer. We did not. Instantly, like a child meeting their hero and realizing they are nothing, they lost all interest in us. Actually it was mostly the males of the table, who sat and stared as their girlfriends struggled to use what English they did know to talk to the westerners.

We wanted to go back to our table anyways, for theirs was, for lack of a better term, fucking disgusting. While I grew to love Vietnamese people and their culture, their is one habit they have that would and does baffle most westerners. In a western restaurant it is customary for the uneaten food to be left on the table, which will be cleared away later by the waitstaff or bus boys.

In Vietnam they just throw it all on the ground. Everything. Shrimp shells, clam shells, crab carcasses, fish bones, noodles, vegetables, cigarettes, ice from dead drinks, napkins, everything. Anything remaining after the meal is also dumped on to the pile via the wait staff tipping the tables over. It’s actually a pretty efficient system. But it is certainly gross. This table of 20 had created a pile of slop that must have been half a foot. It didn’t help that one of the drunk males added some vomit to the pile as we approached.

The restaurant closed around us, and finally the drunk westerners realized it was time to go. Our bill for the 26 Tigers came out to be $4 each. Tipping, although not customary, is hugely appreciated in Vietnam. Unlike in Japan where you should never tip. Our waiter was absolutely blown away by the $2 we each left him. We zigged and zagged and pissed our way back down the strip. The locals were drunk too, and were going home.

What was supposed to have been a 24 hour layover had become one of the most important days in my (adult) life. I could once again see the bright side of life, I didn’t have to watch my back of my bag anymore. Well I did…. you never want to let your guard down overseas, but I could at least relax a little. I’d be back to Da Nang to see the Danes, but that’s a story for another time.

I’d kill for an iced Tiger right about now.

 

Book Art

This is some art I drew for my recently completed book on my six years as a delivery driver. I think they’re pretty neat.

The second picture is of the area I used to stand as a bouncer. It was drawn from a picture of Tonic I googled. There was some idiot at the door in the picture (Me).

The Delorean… you’d probably have to read the book for that one.

 

Roger-page-001

Tonic-page-001.jpg