While a friend is in the States for an extended stay, we are driving her car once a week or so to keep it up to par. Today, we took it in for a new fuel filter and oil change. We’ve only been to the Toyota dealer one time previously for a small repair on the car, maybe four months ago.
Today, the man asked, “Are you still looking after this car for your friend?”
He remembered us from months ago, and remembered enough to know why we had the car.
Things like this suddenly cause Mae Sot to feel very small. Or perhaps that it is small for us–memorable foreigners. And small in the sense that sometimes, I feel stalked.
Stalked by the ladies in the market stall, who ask why I haven’t been by if I miss a week or two.
Stalked by the owners of the tea shop, who ask where our neighbors are when we show up just the two of us.
Stalked by our Burmese teacher, who asks where we went last night on bicycles.
Stalked by the doctor at the clinic who said, “Didn’t you used to speak Karen? Now your Karen is not so good and you are using Burmese.”
Stalked by the random mechanic, who asked Kelvin why we have flowers in our car every Friday.
Stalked by our neighbors, who ask why I threw such-and-such away; or when I pick up the red bag, all the kids say, “Oh, you’re going swimming?”
Stalked by anyone in a mile radius, who shouts “Hello, Kelli! Hello, Stephen!” when we drive by, whether we know them or not.
Stalked by the pharmacist, who asks months later if that medicine helped your stomachache and reminds me, without a computer or written record, it’s about time for me to purchase more of my regular prescriptions.
I’m feeling very memorable these days, and a little bit like I’m being watched. All the time.
Or maybe I’m just part of a little community in the middle of nowhere, where everybody knows your name.