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The Dangers of My Job

11 September 2008
tags: ,

First things first, Grubhub.

Apparently, every time I mention Grubhub in my posts my readership triples. (Hit 51 on Monday, folks!). So I’m just going to title my posts “Grubhub Rocks” from now on.

In other news, the mysterious bird from Thailand is a guinea fowl. Thanks to Amy Cooper for watching Animal Planet with her kids. Amy, you will get your prize in November when I visit the new Grubhub (oops, did it again) office and distract, you, Ellen, and Kat from your work by insisting on lunch at Julius Meinl. Second prize goes to Mike for mentioning the greatest superhero in fowl history, Zoom Chicken, and his arch-nemesis, Turbo Turkey. Since the guinea fowl looks turkey-like, we shall now appoint him as TT’s villainous sidekick, Gangrenous Guinea.

Also, I’ve started to look for jobs for when I get home, and I’m starting to think perhaps community organizer would be a good gig for a lazy person like me since those positions do not have any actual responsibilities. (Thanks for the heads-up on that one, Governor Palin!) Of course, then I’d have to continue the apparently fruitless work of making a difference in the world and helping people change their lives for the better. Dagnabitall, isn’t that the Catch-22?!

Speaking of work, I’m going to switch gears and get to the point of this post since too much talk about politics works me into a frenzy, and I start spewing flaming liberal invectives that make me unpopular around here. Rumour has it that I’ve been scaring auto drivers with my Steven Colbert impressions as I reenact certain segments of The Colbert Report for Ana on the way home from work.

So anyway, a few people have asked me recently why I don’t blog about my job since it’s reportedly “the bomb.” There are two answers to this question. First, if I write too much about my job or the group I work for, I’d have to have it approved by the bigwigs at headquarters. Then they’d edit my sparkling and witty commentary, and they’re just not as funny as I am. Second, and more seriously, working in the human rights field can be dangerous work (well, not for me since the most dangerous part of my day is when I flip through law journals – hello, paper cuts!). My colleagues are some of the most courageous people I have ever met, and I don’t want to compromise their safety by anything stupid I could say on here. And I’m prone to stupid. I will say this about my job, however – I do a lot of legal research and writing, so my part in all this, not so exciting and you probably don’t want to hear about that anyway.

There is one part of my job that I do want to talk about, though, and that is its crazy dangerous effect on my brain. When you work in the human rights field, it has the, at times unfortunate, consequence of making you see human rights violations everywhere you turn. When I eat at a local restaurant, I wonder just how old those little busboys are and think that they probably would fit better in school right about now. When I see a woman walking hunched behind her husband, I look for bruises on her. When I see workers at a construction site, I want to ask if they’re making minimum wage (or any wage at all). It can affect your whole outlook on life (and it’s not just here in India, by the way. I’m watching all of you at home also. Muhahaha….)

The most recent case in point, perhaps where this fixation has hit me the most in my whole time overseas, was on my recent trip to Thailand (and since I was alone, no one to pull me out of it). Many of you may be aware that Thailand has a reputation for being a hot spot for sex tourism. (And with that one phrase, I have now doomed myself to getting disgusting spam comments….) It doesn’t take much to see this fact clearly. As I was planning my trip, one website I went to for “Helpful Thai Phrases” that seemed at first on the up-and-up listed the ten most popular articles on the site – the first five had something to do with how to be a sex tourist and one of the “helpful phrases” (right after “Which way to the toilet?”) was “Where can I find sex?” Not kidding. Perhaps they should have also added, “How much for the women?”

Okay, so pair this information with my overabundance of knowledge on the history of sex trafficking in Thailand, especially from Burma, and the abuse of minors in the Thai sex trade, and you have the topic I fixated on in Thailand.

It all started when I got on my plane bound to Bangkok and quickly noted that I was one of only about five women on the plane. All I could do was look around me and think “Sex tourists.” And that guy from Dubai? Honestly, he probably wasn’t as creepy as I made him out to be. After all, he did say he only had a short stop in Bangkok on his way to Hong Kong for business. Yet this information still did not keep me from feeling all creepy-crawlie when he spoke to me. (Though, truth be told, I just don’t like strangers, especially men I don’t know, talking to me ever. A bit of that leftover, crippling shyness from my childhood.)

It didn’t get any better when I got to Chiang Mai. The area I stayed in seemed very nice, not seedy at all, near the university, so lots of students. But, when I went to the other side of the city, every bar I saw had young, pretty Thai girls in short skirts talking to older men. And I’d think, “I know what you’re up to. Yeah, I’m looking at you, you fat, middle-aged, sweaty white man with your bumbag.” Seriously, why do they all carry bumbags? You’d think this small piece of obvious fashion sense would have even reached that rock he crawled out from under. Then there was the old white guy driving the motorbike with two barely-pubescent girls on the back. This sight had me questioning whether it was wrong to pray that someone gets hit by a bus. (I decided it was.)

So I found myself all riled up, unable to turn off my oppression-o-meter, and at times, it got in the way of my enjoying my time in Thailand.

However, despite all this, I’m thinking it really isn’t such a bad thing that I ask these questions or think these thoughts. After all, ignorance might be bliss, but, what the hey, happiness is way overrated. If I was ignorant and didn’t know what was happening in the world, I wouldn’t have any idea where help was needed. Now this might be all right if I wanted to be, say, a small-town mayor (oops, sorry, politics again), but, if I actually want to make a difference in the wider world, I think I have to choose to open my eyes and see the world with all its suffering, hurt, and pain, even if this might put a kink in my life plan for happiness.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. 11 September 2008 7:35 pm

    Hmmm. Most flaming liberals believe that the sex trade is a victimless crime. Glad to see you aren’t that far left! Not that you are flaming. I’ve never seen you lit afire. 😉 Politics make me insane. I refuse to discuss them or I become a nasty person. I have a hard time turning off my radar for injustice too.

  2. 12 September 2008 7:35 am

    Really, you don’t like fanny packs? But they’re so convenient and such an easy way to dress down a nice black trenchcoat and aviators. What goes better with dark socks, sandals and twin adolescents than a well made leather fanny pack…

    Actually check out the group fannypack at http://www.google.com/musicl?lid=2rHLph1vntP&aid=6w4p5zRvrFI – yea, that’s Google Music. They’re pretty a pretty dope group out of the Bronx – ironically made up of 3 prepubescent girls… So Stylistic is they’re best track.

  3. A. Liberal permalink
    16 September 2008 9:21 pm

    Who exactly are these flaming liberals that Ariana speaks of? It may have been a throw away comment, but I think it is important to point out that there is a vast difference between trafficking, the prostitution of a minor and an adult prostitute – all three of which are part of the “sex trade”. It would greatly surprise me if “most flaming liberals” considered the first two categories victimless. Moreover, the reason that many (though not necessarily “most”) people advocate for the decriminalization, or even legalization, of prostitution is because the criminalization of prostitution is likely to cause greater victimization to the prostitute (there are a lot of -izations in that sentence). Whatever the reason that an adult becomes a prostitute, the criminalization of prostitution puts them at further risk of violence, discrimination and abuse. I don’t think it’s necessary for me to write a treatise about this – I’ve chucked out some thoughts and if you’re interested in reading further the world wide web has some great stuff on both sides of the argument.

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