“Well, you know Thais, they're flippin lazy, man”, said the new expat I was introduced to today over coffee. Arghhh! I have heard this said so many times I can barely be bothered to respond anymore.
To me this statement is nothing more than another wild, sweeping generalization that rolls negatively off the tongue into the psyche of other newbies, who in turn spread the word and create a stereotype that is easily undone with some though and analysis. Thais being lazy really isn't my experience, except for a few people like this security guard below. I could have stolen some valuable artwork!
Since I came to Thailand, 6 years ago this July, the majority of Thais I have encountered are hard-working, and I can't fathom why people keep referring to Thais as”lazy.”
Perhaps it is the case that people perceive the Thai approach to work as lazy, i.e. the laid back “mai pen rai” (never mind) attitude? Or is that Thai people take longer to do stuff, or that they aspire to earn as much as possible doing as little work as possible? This is certainly the goal of most foreigners – not that many ever get there.
Of course, every country has its lazy people – those who don't want to work or don't want to work very hard – and there are certainly some lazy Thai people. But the fact that there is no social welfare system in Thailand means that the majority either work or get no money. Most Thais don't have the privilege of being lazy. Period.
I would argue that my fellow countrymen are far lazier than Thai people because so many rely on state handouts. Moreover, they're always pushing for better pay for less hours and easier work. The majority of Thais work long hours, for little money, and usually no fringe benefits.
My personal experience of Thai friends/family is a hard-working one. One of my closest friends, a Thai girl, works 7 days a week running 2 business. My girlfriend works 6 days a week, waking at 5.30am most days. My GFs sister and brother-in-law work insane hours. Her Dad has worked every day of his life in the baking hot weather since he was 13. My four close expat friends all have Thai girlfriends who work 5 days a week, and the Thais I have met through my martial arts club all work hard too, many running their own businesses.
And what of those I don't know personally? Well, the family that own the fruit stall in my soi run a 24-hour round the clock shift – no day off in the last 2 weeks. The guys in 7/11 seldom have a day off. Taxi drivers sleep just a few hours in their taxis before hitting the road again, and go up country and you have OAPs toiling the fields for 9 hours a day…SO WHERE ARE ALL THESE LAZY PEOPLE?
Sure, Thais like to relax, work has to be a little bit sanook (fun), and why not? Thais like things happy and not too serious, but to say “Thais are lazy” is just ignorant. Some, perhaps, but all? Come on. This coming from expats who drink more hours than they work!
If you think Thais are lazy, please share your experience. But please, no isolated “I knew a guy/girl….” exceptions. Give me concrete evidence that “Thais are lazy”, or just don't say it all!