Babysitting brutish blokes

There is nothing worse for an expatriate than having to deal with misbehaving tourists from his home country…

Did I ever tell you about the time when I was working in Penang? It was during the Asian economic crisis and the resorts were doing better than ever due to the devaluation of the ringgit against major currencies, which made it cheaper for foreigners to travel to Malaysia. Tourists from Britain who would normally only travel to nearby Spain, could now afford to travel much further, thanks to the strength of the pound. Unfortunately, some of them had not travelled abroad much and would behave atrociously while on vacation.

I will never forget the day when a couple of Yorkshire blokes showed up for a four-day stay. I was very busy in the kitchen when the general manager called me to meet him by the pool. When I arrived, there were two burly fellows sitting in the pool on bar stools. “They’re a bunch of your lot, Saxon. So I have nominated you to take care of them during their stay,” said my boss. I could not believe my rotten luck! Having to babysit these clowns was going to be a pain in the neck, to say the least. As I pondered how I was going to manoeuvre myself into a United Nations position of peacekeeping, one of the tattooed twits shouted out: “Nice knockers, darling!” to one of the passing beauties that caught his attention. I slowly closed my eyes, took a deep breath and took the challenge head on. “Excuse me sir, let me introduce myself as Michael Saxon, the executive chef here,” I started out. “And to my dismay, I have been nominated as your part-time chaperone”. “For your first lesson on cross-cultural relations, I would like to bring to your attention the slight indiscretion that you have just committed. The use of the words ‘knockers’, ‘jugs’, ‘watermelons’, ‘papayas’ or any other word to describe any part of a lady’s anatomy in public, is frowned upon and continuing to utter such insults may just land you in jail. Therefore, unless you desire a couple of nights of free accommodation at the local police station, I would advise you to refrain from shouting obscenities at passers-by.” As I waited for their reaction, I noticed that both had blank looks, which made me worry that this was going to be even harder than I had thought. “So what you are trying to say is that we should just drink our beer and keep our comments to ourselves – is that right, Cookie?” I hesitated for a second before responding. “You’ve got it, big guy. I can see that you are very tuned in and can take subtle hints. By the way, my name is Mike.” As I was walking away, he retorted: “Sure thing, Cookie.” I heaved a long sigh. These guys just had to turn up when the hotel was at its busiest.

That night, I saw the two Neanderthals leaving the premises. I was secretly hoping that they had decided to check out earlier but no such luck. “Going out for dinner, gentlemen?” I enquired. “Firstly, we did not want to tackle the slop that you call dinner. Secondly, you will probably scold us anyway but we are going out to see if we can find some nice, ripe watermelons.” “Be careful where you eat,” I shouted out after them. “It may be a little cheaper, but always remember: you get what you pay for!”

The next morning, they did not show up as early so I thought that they either had too much to drink or had been up late. When they finally showed up, they were looking pale and were heading sluggishly towards the restaurant. “Top of the morning to you two fine gentlemen. What can I do for you this morning?” I greeted them. “Drop dead – that would be a start,” snorted one guy. “We have terrible food poisoning after eating at a street hawker stall. Do you have any Lomotil?” “Actually, I don’t. What I do have is a little more of my slop. Fried slop, to be precise. Like I said, you get what you pay for and now, unfortunately, you’re still paying for it.”

After I gave them some Imodium to calm their stomachs, they wandered down to the beach to sleep off their upset tummies. After a couple of hours, I noticed that they were getting a little red around the edges. I went over to tell them to rub on some sunblock but realised that it was too late. I visualised them undressing and how they were going to have another large tattoo, white in colour and in the shape of the singlets they were wearing.

At least they were smart enough to take off their sunglasses before lying down. Walking around the resort looking like raccoons with red sunburn marks and white circles around their eyes would have been a dead giveaway. With well-chosen dinner shirts and gallons of after-sun balm, they would still be able to hide the fact they had never seen the sun before. In any case, I decided I would discreetly announce that they were actually Australians from the Gold Coast, where getting lobster red sunburns was the weekend norm.

They meandered over for some lunch and ordered a couple of portions of (surprise, surprise!) fish and chips. Laurel motioned me over to their table, passed me his bread roll and, as if to tell me that it was not fresh, declared: “Feed this to the birds.” Hardy, on taking a sip of the complimentary glass of red wine I had given them, asked: “Is this your blood?”

These guys really were too much! They deserved the few sleepless nights of stinging and itching that were coming to them once their bad sunburn kicked in. So here they were, little-travelled Brits on the holiday of a lifetime, sun-burnt, diarrhea-ridden and with a permanent hangover they could talk about for years with their mates down at their local pub. Their ultimate act of stupidity was yet to come that evening. After over estimating their alcohol tolerance, they were on their way back to the hotel after visiting a nightclub to sneak a peak at (and, I’ll bet, offend) the local talent. On hearing toads croaking in the deep storm drains at the roadside, they wandered over to find out who the noisy culprits were. Upon doing so, they had walked too close to the edge and fell in headfirst while clutching on to each other’s shoulders.

The following morning, they looked like they had been in a terrible fight or a major car accident – they could have passed off as extras from a Stephen King horror movie. Both had deep, stitched up gashes on their faces and one had a broken nose. “As this is your last night, gentlemen, and you have obviously had the time of your life, I will buy you dinner,” I announced. “The local talent gave you some problems last night, did they?” I couldn’t resist asking. “Blooming storm drains – it should be illegal to have them. They are death traps!” muttered one of them. “What are we having for dinner tonight, Cookie?” asked the other. “How about frog’s legs?” I offered, with a smirk. The following morning as I helped them place their luggage in the trunk of the airport limousine, I couldn’t help feeling a little sorry for them. I signaled for them to roll down the window and I engaged in some parting conversation which ended with, “Come back soon”. My sympathy for them, however, was short-lived. As they were pulling away, one of the louts held his hand out of the window and stuck out his middle finger. An expression of “affection” from yet another satisfied customer, who for once, I hoped would not be returning soon.