Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Just like family

At the golf course where I play my regular Sunday game, I've been using the same caddy for a few months now. When he's not carrying a golf bag and reading greens for expats and rich Indonesians, Ahmad is a single figure handicap golfer, so he's given me quite a few useful tips that have helped my slowly improving golf game. As a caddy, Ahmad does a pretty good job, and doesn't laugh too loudly when my wayward shots find themselves in a chocolate brown creek or in deep rough. Ahmad's one word comment, "Kalimantan", allows me to quickly ascertain my chances of finding my ball if a tee shot hooks or slices into uncharted areas away from the fairways.

Caddies at most golf courses in Jakarta don't earn much salary, with their share of the official caddy fee paid to the golf course by the player only around Rp.20,000-Rp.40,000 (US$2-$4). If they caddy six days a week they'll make less than the legislated minimum wage, so how they make a decent living is from tips they receive at the end of a round. The "recommended" tip is Rp.40,000-Rp.50,000, but many expats, including myself and other guys I know, normally tip Rp.100,000. It's not much to us, but makes a big difference to the caddy's living standards.

Given that he's caddied for me about 10 times now, Ahmad has started to try his luck financially, in the same way that household staff will hit you up for a loan or tell you tales of woe about their family in order to capture your fiscal sympathy. In recent weeks Ahmad has badgered me about his wife's hospital bills, his son's school fees, and the fact that he doesn't own a set of irons so has been renting clubs off a friend when he needs to play in competitions. I know I'm a good tipper, but this won't stop Ahmad trying this type of thing every week. One day I gave him an extra Rp.50,000 for his wife's "hospital bill", and I've also outfitted Ahmad with a new cap to replace the tattered old cap he owned when I first met him, but even though I've made it perfectly clear that I'm not going to personally sponsor his family he'll keep trying.

In a perverse way I look forward to Sunday just so I can hear Ahmad's latest financial troubles. Which, all going according to plan, he'll casually bring up in conversation while we're walking down the 18th fairway. If he weren't a golf caddy, I'm sure Ahmad could have a successful career as a civil servant, where his talent would be matched with endless financial opportunity.


Blogger treespotter said...

keep us posted, i'm betting someone will die soon. most probably starting with the grandmother in laws...

11:35 PM  
Blogger IndCoup said...

hey dude...

back to your cynical ways!!!


As if I can talk!


1:41 PM  
Blogger Marek Bialoglowy said...

Haha yeh, I can bet that quite soon someone will die and I agree with treespotter, it will be most likely the grandmother. I think it would be funny to verify Ahmad's tales with other expats. His wife probably died like two times or more, grandmother ten times etc. BTW I once took a taxi with actor talented driver. I gave him Rp100.000 tip even when having some doubts in his story of dying wife in the hospital and him driving since 3 days and trying to collect money for the surgery. It was just too good, thus I couldn't resist.

2:56 PM  
Blogger indobastard said...


I just want to say that your blog is funny and refreshing, I would recommend it as a compulsory reading for those folks in Indo that has dsylexia for good humours...


8:55 AM  

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