It was a mellow, sunny afternoon in Bangkok. The smell of lemongrass, grilled pork and tuk-tuk fumes filled the air.
“Let’s finally go to the Sky Bar.” Greg, my friend from New Zealand, had been keen to go for weeks. “It’s the place where the Hangover movie was filmed. It’s going to be amazing.”
We had tried to go to another sky bar earlier, but they didn’t let us in. We were dressed too casually, with tank tops, flip-flops, and shorts.
“You know I don’t have shoes.”
It’s always scorching hot in Bangkok so I didn’t feel the need for shoes. I had sent them home in a big postal package a week earlier, together with all the other useless stuff in my backpack.
We were strolling around in the local Seven Eleven, enjoying the airco.
“I only have flip-flops. There’s no way they’ll let me in”.
“Just buy new shoes. It’ll be worth it”.
I was not happy. I don’t like wasting money on stuff I don’t need. On the other hand, I really wanted to go to the Sky Bar. Especially after checking out the pictures online:
“I’m not going to buy new shoes just for this. Let’s just do something else.”
“Dude. Why don’t you just make your own shoes?”
I always knew Greg was crazy, but this was another level.
“What do you mean?”
“There’s garbage bags here. And duct tape”.
Needless to say, we decided to try it. I bought the stuff and we quickly went back to the hostel to complete our mission.
There’s one thing you need to know about me. If you’ve seen me in real life, you know I don’t care about dressing well.
I know how important appearance is. People really do judge you based on your clothes, but I don’t generally give a shit. (I’m trying to change this now but it’s hard)
I would want to become rich just to be able to walk around like Zuckerberg and not feel like a homeless person:
How do you make shoes out of basically nothing? I decided to just try and see what happens. I unwrapped the black garbage bags and started putting them around my foot and flip-flop. Then I wrapped the whole thing with duct tape.
The girl in the bunk bed opposite of me was giving me a strange look.
“What are you doing?”
“Oh, just making shoes to get into Sky Bar”
“Can I come?”
I finished the whole process in about 20 minutes. I had to start over a few times because it looked unnatural. The sole of the flip-flop was protruding at the back which made it look fake. But in the end I was quite satisfied with the result.
“No way you’re going to get in with these Frankenstein monsters of shoes. It’s just too obvious.”
Greg was probably right, but I knew I had to try. If anything, it would make for a good story. The three of us hopped in a tuk-tuk and off we were.
I was getting nervous. Wiggling my toes felt unnatural. The cheap plastic was way too shiny. What if they kick me out? What if they call the police? What if they make a scene?
We got out of the tuk-tuk and into the queue. Fancy people with shirts and real shoes were making small talk and smoking cigarettes. The air was getting a bit cooler.
At that point I was imagining a lot of different scenarios…
“Sir, I’m afraid these are not shoes, it seems to be a blend of duct tape and cheap plastic. Please step out of the line.”
Time was passing slowly. When it was my turn, I approached the security guy and gave him a meek smile.
He smiled back. Weird. He then signalled me to keep moving.
How did I get in? I firmly believe most people see what they want to see. The idea of fabricating your own shoes to get into a sky bar is so absurd, it just doesn’t make sense in people’s heads.
On top of that, calling me out contains a significant risk for employees.
On my way to the bathroom, in a very bright area, one security guy kept staring at my shoes. I’m pretty sure he knew what was up. The reason he didn’t say anything was because if he was mistaken it would be a huge faux pas on his part. Offending a rich guy’s taste in expensive shoes is a definite no-go. I could have aggressively accused him of being ignorant of current fashion trends.
Me: 1 – Establishment: 0