Almost every evening at 9pm, Fin’s working “day” begins. Fin is a night porter in a small hotel in the notorious area around street 136, close to Phnom Penh’s riverside, and he is also in charge of the beer pump. As a practicing Muslim, the graduate English student does not approve of alcohol and prostitution; all the same, he likes his job. As the night passes on and quiet settles over the hotel, Fin has a lot of time to dream of a future outside the business of cheap fun…
1. What was the craziest incident you have witnessed under your watch?
Freaky things happen all the time. A few weeks ago a Russian guy brought two ladies up to his room. He was very drunk and might not have noticed that they were actually ladyboys. He must have noticed at some point though… After two hours the ladyboys wanted to leave but the Russian guy would not let them. He claimed they stole 50 dollars off him. The ladyboys said first of all that wasn’t true, and secondly the Russian hadn’t paid them. The Russian said that nothing had happened and he wanted the police to come. He kept repeating “nothing happened” and “call the police,” almost as if he was saying it to himself. Then the ladies left. Actually many foreign guys that stay at our hotel bring home boy or ladyboy prostitutes – even if they usually bring female prostitutes. I think they just want to try it, but they are embarrassed about it.
2. That sounds rough, and not much fun. Is there anything you like about your job?
I really like my job! I can meet people from different countries and learn about their culture. They really make me dream about life abroad. I can also practice my English, which is very useful.
3. What do drunken people tell you when they pour their hearts out?
Many tell me that they miss their children and wives because they don’t live with them anymore. Some tell me how their parents got divorced when they were young. Most guys say that they are sad and lonely and some then ask how much it would cost them to bring a girl from next door’s girlybar upstairs. I then tell them it’s 40 dollars.
4. Many people are passing through this hotel. Does it make you sad to see some of them leave?
People come and stay up to 20 days. You talk, get know each other and sometimes you become friends. It makes me really sad when they leave; sometimes I even cry because I don’t know if or when I am going to see them again. I still want to be friends with them because everybody needs friends even if they live on the other side of the world.
5. What annoys you the most in your job?
I hate it when drunken people start getting aggressive. Not long ago a guy who was already drunk came in and had ten beers. When he asked for the bill he said that he’s had only seven. I told him I wrote down every beer immediately after an order. He still insisted on seven and then took an empty glass and smashed the glass table. He paid for seven beers and left. You can’t do anything against a man that is so drunk.
6. What do you do to stay awake when you get tired?
I don’t like coffee so I do exercises, because they make you fresh again and get everything going. I do 30 push-ups and quickly run to the river and back. I also turn up the music to a high volume to wake me up. I like Justin Bieber, Beyoncé and Britney Spears. Sometimes I also like Lady Gaga but not so much, because she is a little bit too crazy.
7. What are your future wishes and dreams?
Once I have saved enough money I want to open a fashion shop. Because the Cambodian youths want to look like stars and singers, I think that will work well on the market. I also want to have a family with three children, maybe more, maybe less, depending on the business. The wife I wish to meet should be clever and good at business and she has to be beautiful – but not too sexy, not with nerd glasses and crazy make-up.