Editor's Note: Since February, Jarrett has been chronicling the process of opening a restaurant in Bangkok. You can read his previous articles here.
It was the opening day for my Bangkok restaurant.
At 9 a.m., as I ripped up the garage door in front of the shop, I heard a water pump humming. It was ushering water to the floors above, but the restaurant was empty. No dishwashers. No cooks. Nobody but me. Then I heard the familiar sound of water falling.
When the rest of my staff arrived an hour later, I was sitting shirtless, shoeless, and covered in plaster, in a room full of dirty water. A room that had been my bathroom nine hours earlier, when I had closed the door.
A few hours after that, after some frantic phone calls, my manager and two construction workers were having a conversation in Thai that I couldn't understand. So I asked the manager to translate. "The construction worker told the ghost he would give him an offering of chicken and rice every day, and he didn't. The ghost is not happy here. The worker said that he talked to that ghost, and he's sure that's what is giving us problems."
Now, some of my staff are genuinely superstitious, and at this point I may be too, but some also have a habit of blaming simple mistakes (forgetting to turn off the air-conditioning) on the inexplicable (ghosts). And the ghost didn't build the unfinished drain on the second floor that emptied countless gallons of water onto the false ceiling in my bathroom below, but that was beside the point. I had 20 reservations on the books, and a large group of friends coming for drinks after that. The night before I had rested for the first time in weeks and had eaten my first proper meal at home. I had prepared myself for this day, like a runner before a race. But the opening would have to wait. I called, and canceled.