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Friday, November 02, 2007


Dirty trousers

A few days ago I needed to go to Phnom Penh. When I was last at the bus station I checked on the times the buses were scheduled to leave. Even though I knew they didn't leave exactly to schedule I figured it would give me a chance of catching one without waiting too long.

I chose to take the 7.45 am bus. My guesthouse is on the highway only a few minutes drive from the bus station so I went outside to wait at 7.45. At 8.00 am, someone gave me a chair to sit on. At about 8.40 a friend came along in his car. My friend is moderately wealthy. His car is a 15+ year old Camry. To own such a car as this in Cambodia indicates some level of wealth. He needed to go to Phnom Penh for a job interview and told me he would be glad to have some company for the journey. We left at about 8.45 and the bus still hadn't shown.

My friend was applying for a well-paid (by Cambodian standards) job as an interpreter with a local NGO. He'd been through the initial interviews, had passed the medical and now had to meet the CEO who happens to be an Australian. Get through this one and he was in.

We chatted as we headed along the highway. As I looked over to him I noticed that he had put on a good clean shirt, had on his best shoes, but his trousers, they were a fairly casual style and looked like they needed to be put into the washing machine. Yes, unlike most Cambodians my friend does have a washing machine. It is very old and barely works but he has one. He should have used it on these trousers. I was amazed. How did he expect to impress the CEO wearing these pants? I thought about saying something but decided that all that would do was make him feel uneasy.

When he dropped me off we arranged that I would call him when I was ready to return, to see just where he was. It was a little after 3 pm when I called. 'Where are you?' I asked.

'I'm in Kompong Chhnang. They want me to come back to Phnom Penh so I can start tomorrow.'

WOW! He got the job despite his trousers. Or perhaps in Cambodia it is just not important. Good luck to him.

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