Sleep for me is a fight.
I have this more-or-less established pattern of two or three or four brief (two to five hours) slumber nights to one good night’s sleep (seven, if lucky even eight hours), whether I wake up to pee or to cold, heat or noise one to four times a night or not.
Another pattern I swear by is that of sleep cycles – in my case, from experience, one hour and twenty to thirty minutes: even on a single cycle, I wake up fresh and sharp; even on five or six cycles, if interrupted, I wake up incoherent. Woe betide whoever tries to befriend me then! For a quarter century, I got constant flak from my erstwhile companion rightfully complaining I was living in a different time zone. All my friends and colleagues know better than to call me before noon. A morning call is definite dreadful news.
This morning, after an orgy of B-grade movies and Jack Lang, I went to sleep at 3:30.
At a blessèd 11, the phone rings on an unfinished cycle.
I grope for it.
A female Thai voice says something like, ‘Sawatdee kha … this is … check … account … ten thousand … call…’
My first thought is, Is this CAT?
Why CAT? Well, while my daughter was in France on her way to see her uncle and grandfather the other week, she emailed me an SOS which had me call my brother and leave a message as he wasn’t there right then, so the call will cost me, and, since they’ve changed 001 to 008 as international prefix I don’t know when, it’s CAT that pockets the charge now and, as I have no account with them, they had me, for a previous 436-or-so baht call, go all the way to their tinted-glassed skyscraper down the river to cough up and this still rankles. This is what goes through my startled neurons here and now.
So I say, ‘Khor Phra Than Thort Khrap (Excuse me), I’m just waking up. Who is this?’
‘This is Kasikornbank checking on your credit card’s recent expenditure of ten thousand baht. We … bbzzz … What’s your name?’
‘My name is Marcel Barang.’
‘Manjal Prang, right?’
‘Mar! Cel! Ba! Rang!’
‘Listen, I…’ Then the line goes dead.
Shaken but unfazed, I proceed to my wake-up routine: coffee, toast, Bangkok Post. I’ve trouble focusing on the news and, after the first cigarette (when there’s still the second mug of coffee and Life’s cartoons to go through), I jump out of the porch rocking chair, get Kasikorn Thai Bank’s savings book, Visa and MasterCard ready and dial 02 888 88 88, the bank’s 24/7 call centre I’m quite familiar with given my credit cards’ hemiplegia (see previous ‘Kasikornbank’ postings).
After the usual declension of identification tags, a short, friendly conversation leads to the comforting verdict: ‘Nothing’s wrong with your account, kha. It was just a case of mitcha-cheep (criminal activity).’
‘Phishing’, they call it, these days.
The cheek of that chick, waking me up at eleven!