The day I landed at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok after spending ten days in the freezing, minus thirteen degree Celsius of Beijing, I went to Lumpini Park at midday to enjoy the balmy heat. The simple act of sitting on a bench, that was once unbearable in the heat, is now a blessing.
Later that afternoon a Twitter post of a British actor Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter movies, with his fans went viral. He was spotted in the park on that same afternoon I was there by his fans. He was almost unrecognizable from what I’ve seen in the movies with all his beard and the backpack. Like an ordinary backpacker, even if he’s not Harry Potter himself, still, I feel like I’m missing the opportunity of a lifetime since I was that close to him. “What if I had come ten minutes earlier?” I couldn’t stop thinking…
The following evening, I had dinner with my friends at a Korean restaurant when a notification from my bank popped up on my phone screen. After a month of waiting, the company I worked for had finally transferred the money I had been waiting for. Moved with joy, I hollered a long “Yes!” and one of my friends, Mint, asked if it was a Tinder match. After I filled her in, she nudged her friend (and also her senior at work) Bally, who had been busy playing Avengers game on his phone since we arrived.
“See Bally, I told you the chart works!”
Bally looked up from his phone and gave us a smirk before turning back to his game.
“What chart?” I asked. They both work at the same company, and every time we get together there are always things and conversation that I have to catch up on.
“Sam, do you notice we’re wearing the same color today?”
We were both in red.
I could almost predict what was going to come next as with most conversation that involved color in Thailand. “According to the chart, red is today’s lucky color!”
Earlier that day, Mint also got a new freelance gig designing the homepage for a chat-bot company. Together with my almost meet up with a world-famous actor on the street, and getting the money I was supposed to get a month ago, back in my pocket it felt like whatever chart she was talking about was the real deal.
“My friend who sent me this works in PR for a real estate firm that has tried this for a month, and she’s got six-month bonus!” Mint said. “I’ll send you the chart now.”
There are way too many charts I have seen in my life as a marketer; a chart for average penis sizes for men around the world, how people think Lady Gaga likes her steak, etc. They’re getting ridiculous, like they have to include a chart in every news article to make it convincing. The entire chart shows each day of the week and segmented by what kind of luck you would get in a day if you wear the color as indicated in the table. They are; power, luck and money, source of strength. On the last table, however, are the misery colors.
“Under no circumstances should you be wearing these colors otherwise you’ll have a very bad day.”
Much less superstitious Bally, who happened to be wearing a miserable color of the day, looked up from his phone asking, “Are we done? Now I wanna know how you almost met Tom Felton. Show me the tweet.”
Friday: lucky color: pink
Pink is a tricky color for men. If you’re not macho enough it will make you weak. As I picked up the only pink t-shirt my mom had bought for me I wonder how it supposed to bring me any luck.
After forcing myself to wear pink and stare at myself in the mirror for a hundredth time, I decided to step out. Recounting the day, the very first thing close to getting rich was the signboard at the lottery stands that says “Rich in two days!” Had I taken a chance on a lottery that day I could have won. But I didn’t. My luck continues to run out like Bryce Dallas Howard’s social credit score in a Black Mirror episode, as the day progresses.
I got fired that afternoon. I’m sure my company “Mobike” – a Chinese company that put dockless bikes for sharing in major cities around the world – would prefer the term laid-off or let-go. Surely this is not my fault as it’s a one-sided decision made by the company’s headquarter to shut down the entire APAC markets.
Instead of jumping out of the window or hanging myself, like a normal person would do in this situation, I called Mint and blamed it on her.
“This is the first day I tried your fucking chart and I got fired!”
“What color are you wearing?”
“Well, the chart says pink will bring you money. At least they must give you some, umm, compensation?”
“Ugh, I’m so sorry about that.”
“It’s okay. Maybe this is for the best.” I said. I had been unsatisfied with Mobike for a long time. Most times it had something to do with how they treat their employees.
Later that evening I asked her out to have a drink and we came up with a slogan, “Wipe my tears and go to Pattaya.”
“There. That’s a million baht idea. Totally works for a t-shirt.” Mint said.
Monday: lucky color: purple
There was a quote about wearing purple, that I had read at a urinal, which I like. It says “Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.” I understood they didn’t mean for you to wear purple, unlike this chart that requires you to wear purple if you wish to encounter a fortune today. Which, considering my career situation, I kinda need right now.
Desperate, I went to H&M to buy my first ever purple t-shirt and sat in a Starbucks waiting for things to happen. When I had finished two of their grande-size lattes and nothing had happened I started planning my six-week running roadmap, using one of my marketing content strategy templates.
That evening was the first time I had exercised for what felt like four months but was actually eight months, according to my running history in Nike Running Club. A handsome white man bumped into me in the park while I was running and I fell on the concrete track. He just glanced back and said “Sorry,” while continuing on at the same pace, as if it was my fault for blocking his way.
When I told Mint about this she advised me to look at the alternative. “Maybe you might want to consider a different kind of luck. I don’t know. Try it.”
I looked at the chart and began considering the kind of luck that I need for the next day. ‘Damn I have to do laundry.’
Tuesday: the source of strength color: red
My mom called me in the afternoon and told me that my uncle had had a stoke and was in hospital. He lives alone and own a small online book store in the outskirts of Bangkok. “Can you go to the hospital?”
On my way to the hospital I thought of how funny that the effect of this lucky color chart had reversed. Now I was the source of strength for someone I barely knew?
As usual, I called Mint at the end of the day.
“Your chart is shit.” I said.
“Well, it wasn’t for me. Today my boyfriend bought me a trip to Nepal.”
“Did you wear red today?”
“Have you read the footnote of the chart?” Mint asked. “It says you must get out of bed from the right side of the bed and use your right foot…”
Before she could continue, I decided that I was done. “Enough of this bullshit.”
Wednesday: the source of strength color: yellow
I carefully stepped out of bed from my right and used the right foot as instructed in the footnote. My mom says she will give me two thousand baht per week and three meals per day if I come home to live with her.
It was a source of strength, but I’m not sure if it’s the right kind of strength that I am looking for.
Friday: power color: white
I had got a gig working as a local freelance TV producer, which is a fancy word for a fixer, for a French journalist from France24. The pay was good and covering the final week leading up to Thailand’s first general election after five years under the military junta seemed like a huge deal for me, perhaps could make a comeback to a journalism career.
The Future Forward Party led by an athletic Thai billionaire was the hottest party and our first campaign coverage. I have met the party leader several times but I doubt that he remembers me. His campaign strategy, which seems a bit odd but highly effective, is to take selfies with his supporters. One by one. Yes, I already have a selfie so this time I shook his hand.
After we wrapped up the first location I had a chance to take to Billy, who is the candidate for the district and is the same age as me. “Wow! Are you really twenty-eight?” He asked.
“Yeah, maybe my glasses make me look older.” I lose my glasses. “Do I look younger now?”
We shook hands and I asked him politely for a job. “Yes, there are many things to do. My God. You won’t believe it. Let’s exchange contact details!”
May this was the power of the chart. I can’t be so sure. But a political career will surely bring me closer to power.
In the evening, the site we cover is a rally for the junta-backed party ‘Palang Pracharat’. I stood there and watched in horror at how they made people queue up to get into the stadium which was serving as the campaign arena. They were zoning the attendees by the district they came from. It’s an eerie scene of what I imagine North Korea is like.
“Why don’t I hear you people from Taling Chan?!?” Said a speaker on the stage. “You will be in trouble if you don’t scream loud enough.”
I was running around, trying to find a genuine supporter to interview but it was like finding a needle in a haystack. “I love the army.” “Uncle is a very nice gentleman.” These are some of the answer I got. Then there was one girl, wearing decent clothes, she clearly stood out from the crowd. I fought my way through to her but ended up learning she was also here for the same purpose as me. To report.
It must have been the loud speaker or the heat or several things combined; I began to feel a sharp pain in my chest during the campaign. The pain was fierce and sharp, it became excruciating each time I moved or took a breath.
In the end, I was happy to let the nurses from the military party that I loathed rush me out from the stadium into an ambulance and to God knows what hospital.
My mom called my uncle and there he was, waiting for me outside the emergency room as I waited for the test results. It wasn’t a heart attack but it costochondritis or chest wall pain. I made my own conclusion that it is a rare condition when a Wikipedia search only showed results in five languages.
As my uncle drove me home that night we got stuck in the traffic that could only have been caused by one thing. The people leaving from the junta campaign.
Sunday: lucky color: green
Because of the incident I had to go to another hospital the next day to double check. This time they admitted me to the hospital. The hospital gown was green. Luckily, it was matching the lucky color from the chart. I had to say no to the gig of a lifetime, my chance to get back into a journalism career vanished: I transferred the gig to a junior from work.
I got out of the hospital thinking that maybe the chart works both ways for me: to be the lucky one or the one who gives luck, power and strength to others. Today must be the lucky day for the woman I passed this opportunity on to.
Tuesday: lucky color: whatever
Today is the day I put an end to this crazy superstitious nonsense. While Mint and her friend, who introduced this to her, are on the rise. Mint started shopping for winter clothes online to prepare for her trip to Nepal with her boyfriend. It’s the opposite for me. I may be lucky to escape the terrible winter in Beijing and finally appreciate the heat in Thailand while many are complaining and almost met up with Tom Felton. Those aren’t luck. Maybe I didn’t start my day by setting the right foot on the floor or maybe the universe has other terms and conditions more than just wearing the right color for a cheeky marketer if I want to borrow its power.
Everything happens for a reason. Maybe the wipe-my-tears-and-go-to-Pattaya t-shirt could make a killing and be an entry to the world of fashion. Being let go by the company that I had worked incredibly hard for with no compensation or even a goodbye dinner could be the way out of my own misery I didn’t know I had for the entire year when I considered it carefully. Maybe if I call Billy from the Future Forward Party he might have a vacancy for me and that could be an entry to politics. Life is just full of choices if you keep an eye open.
I wish the reality was as triumphant as it sounds on paper. I may craft a perfect marketing strategy, ditch the chart and decide to make my own choices. There are lots to gamble. After weeks of following the directions given by the chart, I found myself standing still for a thousand years as I opened my wardrobe wondering what today will be like if I wear purple.