American Stabbed Over Disagreement with Cab Fare – Bangkok, Thailand

Before doing anything, watch that video above. That will tell you how to avoid trouble and stay alive longer in Thailand.

Troy Lee Pilkington, a 51 year old California native living in Bangkok and working for Caterpillar corporation in their customer service department was slaughtered today on Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok, Thailand over what looks to be a 15 THB taxi fare. In US Dollars, that is about 50 cents. Half of one dollar. In Thailand I frequently buy my daughter a popsicle for 15 THB.

Here’s what I read happened. This is from the online news reports at ThaiVisa.com and links out to other information sources. If you were there or heard conflicting information, let me know what you heard.

Troy was in a Thai cab driver’s cab. The fare seemed to jump from 35 THB to 50 THB, too quickly for Mr. Pilkington to believe the meter was above board. Another scenario is that the fare was 81 THB and the cabbie tried to add another 50 THB on to that, and Mr. Pilkington refused. He told the cabbie to drop him off right there. He and the cabby had a verbal fight about it, and at one point Mr. Pilkington may have thrown water from a waterbottle at the cab driver, or thrown the water bottle itself.

Mr. Pilkington exited the cab at a red light without paying the fare and walked away.

The cab driver chased him with a samurai sword and attacked him from behind. They fought for a very short time and Mr. Pilkington died from his injuries (stabbed).

Thai police say they have the cab driver in custody.

The reason I wanted to write about this today, having not written shit-else here for a long time, is that I just want to remind visitors and expats living in Thailand that Thais explode at a moment’s notice about some things. One of those things is…

MONEY.

Do not for any reason attempt to take justice into your own hands and stiff a Thai person over any amount of money, even fifteen fucking baht. It’s outrageous that two adult men could have such fury over 50 cents USD. I can’t comprehend it. I have been at the other end of what I sensed was a scam before – involving paying for a Thais drink at a bar that I never ordered for him. It was 150 THB. Five dollars USD. I swallowed my pride (sense of being fucked over), paid it and walked away, remembering to never drink or spit near that bar again.

Mr. Pilkington was American. I am too. In the states we have this idea that we are going to set shit straight no matter the cost. What’s right is right, and all else can get lost until we make it right. Was Troy about to get scammed out of fifteen baht? Probably. The meter moves slowly on a cab, it would be easy to see it jump too fast. Especially since Troy was an expat living in Bangkok, he had a good idea how fast the meters go in taxis.

But, it was fifteen baht.

I have seen a number of expats get upset when they were about to be scammed, or when they thought they were. Expats get enraged over a 20 THB fare on a songthaew in my city, versus 15 THB for Thais. Is it fair that we pay more? Doesn’t seem to be. Is 5 THB worth getting yourself worked up over? HELL NO it isn’t.

Though I am horrified at what happened to Mr. Pilkington, I understand that in Thailand, that shit doesn’t fly. Doesn’t fly for 15 THB, and it sure as hell doesn’t fly for a couple of thousand baht. What you are to do in a situation where you’re about to get screwed over, is pay what the Thai(s) say is owed, and then bring the tourist police back to the place and try to get some justice over it later if you care that much.

I’m trying to guess how many baht I’d have to be scammed for before I decided to scream at a Thai and throw water in his face, or hit him in the head. I can’t even conceive of that happening. Not for 100,000 THB, and not for a million. Pay it and live another day.

Sure it sucks. There are many things in Thailand that are not fair. Americans, and the rest of us, have to get over it. You gave up fairness when you arrived at the airport. Just assume that NOTHING is fair here, and go on living day to day as best you can. The key is to go on living.

Many Thais don’t seem to give a fuck about life. Not their own, not yours. If you don’t give one either, then keep trying to set things straight – and see where it gets you. This is one area that you will be a sure loser. Pursuing perceived wrongs is almost never worth it here in Thailand. Learn your lesson, share it with all the expats you know so they aren’t duped too -and move on.

Rest in peace Troy Pilkington. You weren’t the first. You won’t be the last to die in a fight over something ludicrous like 15 THB.

We’re not in America anymore. We’re not in the UK or Australia. Thais play by an entirely different (and fucked, in my opinion) set of rules, but there’s nothing we’re going to do about that.

Don’t scream in a Thais face about any amount of money. Not about jealousy. Not about anything. Either get over it, or set the record straight in public or behind the scenes.

Better luck to the rest of us…