The Day The Window Died – An Example Of Why Living Overseas Is Hard
“Difficult Roads Often Lead To Beautiful Destinations”
We broke our van window and it took us almost a year to fix it.
This is a story for the books and a lesson for military and expats alike as a lesson about how things are just a little harder when living overseas.
When we moved to Bangkok we brought our American Honda Odyessy mini van. We knew finding a car here could be challenging, so we decided to just bring our van. It took five long months for that baby to show up here in Thailand and I lost about 10 pounds walking around in the Bangkok heat. Despite my weight loss, we were so thankful to have it because we love to travel and take weekend trips to the beach (as you know).
The biggest problem is, if you run into a maintenance issue or something needs replaced on an American car, even a Honda made in America, there are larger issues. We have had a few small problems with the van since it arrived. Example: the AC had a leak somewhere and the freon would run out every few months. You know what that means, no AC. When it is 100 plus degrees here that is not cool. (Pun intended) We were lucky enough to find a “guy”…becuase there is a “guy” for just about everything in Thailand and everyone needs a “guy”. As it turned out, a guy that would fix all of our small problems but couldn’t fix it the day we had a big problem.
That fateful day happened to be the day we went to turn in our application for adoption. We celebrated completion of this milestone by going to eat lunch at Cafe Tartine, one of our favorite family friendly restaurants here in Bangkok. The parking garage was pretty full and I had to part in an unfamiliar area. In this garage, the parking spots had parking blocks (the things that stop you as you’re pulling in), and you have to back into all parking spots here. So as I was backing up I was waiting to “feel” the block. Instead I heard a huge crash. After we recovered from some attaché training flashbacks, I looked at Steve in terror. He responded in what, in retrospect, was his stupidly calm pilot voice “you just broke the back window”. I freaked out…Are you kidding? How did this happen?
Who ever designed this parking garage had a half wall, that you can’t see as you are backing up, sticking out past the parking block. So I hit the wall first. AWESOME!!!
Well, in response to his irritatingly calm voice I started crying. Steve just waves it off and said, “oh well, we will get it fixed.”
Little did we know exactly what we would go through to get this thing fixed. If we did know, I don’t think Steve would have waved it off so easily.
We went back to our trusty mechanic who thought he would be able to fix it no problem, but the next day let us know that he couldn’t get the window. See that is the problem with bringing an American car here is that there aren’t American parts.
Thanks but no thanks. On to option two. …this is where Steve loses credibility.
Option two was a repair place we have used to fix some more complex problems. Steve hung out there on occasion and met a guy who imports honda civic chassis and then has lamborghini bodies put together on top of them. This place is totally on the up-and-up. (I found out all of this later) Apparently Steve’s “guy” shipped a lot of things out of LA every month and told us he would just add our window to the shipment Bingo! We were in. Next month the “guy” told us that it would only cost us 1000 dollars to ship our 500 dollar window. On to option 3…
Option three was wait 4 months while we went on leave, drove around with a shower curtain, and failed to make any decisions. We explored having friends bring it back commercial, having it mailed, etc…nothing seemed to pan out. Finally, there was a break.
Option 4…where Steve totally redeems himself and the strength of the Royal Thai Air Force/ US Air Force partnership redeems itself.
I originally went into detail on this, but I’ve been advised by my crack team of lawyers that the way things went down may actually not be too “cool”. Let’s just say that a Thai C-130 went to the USA for some unrelated business, my husband was in town at a Stanford course, and after that C-130 came back, a window appeared in my van.
Miracles do happen. …and bilateral relationships are important.
Also. Simple things can be very hard sometimes when you’re living outside your homeland.
If you ever run into trouble, rely on those friends. You can always contact me for advice!