Someone to admire

Someone to admire

It is May Day, National Labour Day, and our Life section reporters talk to people who keep our city and themselves going despite very low pay – people like Chutima Roongsaeng.

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Chutima Roongsaeng


Story and photo by Pattramon Sukprasert

Every morning, Chutima Roongsaeng wipes dust from tables and chairs and sweeps the floor. Her job as a cleaner is to make sure the market near Wat Samian Nari is spotless before the place gets busy.

She works from 8am to 5pm every day, but takes a short break in between.

Chutima earns 9,936 baht a month working six days per week. She also receives additional income from cleaning other shops in the market, which makes for an extra 3,000 baht .

The lion’s share of her salary goes to accommodation, as she rents an apartment for 2,700 baht, including electricity and water bills.

Chutima’s husband works as a motorcycle taxi driver, but they have no children.

She has to be a smart buyer in order to live on such a low budget. She knows where to get the cheap food and which department store is currently running a promotion. She makes careful calculations before buying and tries every day to cut unnecessary expenses. She hardly ever spends money on holidays or for recreational purposes.

“I once used to spend 99 baht a week on the data package for my mobile phone. Now I use only 60 baht a month just to make phone calls,” said Chutima.

It has been over 20 years since Chutima decided to leave her hometown of Ubon Ratchathani to move to the city and get a job to save money. “Three years as a cleaner has trained me to be tidy. I can’t stand dirtiness therefore I always spend my day off cleaning my room, then have a rest. That’s enough to make me happy,” says Chutima.

“I normally don’t feel like going anywhere. If I’m off work to travel but end up in debt, I don’t really think the trip would be worth it.”

At the end of every month, she is usually able to save 2,000 baht.

“I pretend that the 2,000 baht doesn’t even exist,” she says laughing. “So when I’m retired, I will have enough money to spend in my hometown, growing vegetables and working on a farm.

“But for the moment, my life is not bad at all. Just in a blink of an eye, again, it’s the end of the month and here comes the salary,” Chutima says.

“No matter how much money we make, what’s really important is the balance between income and expenses.”

Meet three other people to admire here:

Learn from listening

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  • a blink of an eye (idiom): an instant, a very short time, the time it takes to open and shut an eye - ชั่วประเดี๋ยว
  • accommodation: a place for someone to stay, live, or work - ที่พัก
  • additional: more; more than was first mentioned or is usual - ที่เพิ่มขึ้น
  • balance (noun): a stable condition/relationship between two (or more) sides - ความสมดุล, การทรงตัว
  • budget: an amount of money able to be spent on something - งบประมาณ
  • calculation: the act or process of using numbers to find out an amount - การคาดการณ์
  • cheap: costing little money or less money than you expected - ถูก
  • currently: at this time; now - ในปัจจุบัน
  • debt (noun): an amount of money that you owe - หนี้, นี้สิน
  • department store: a big store with many floors that sells clothes and household appliances and items - ห้างสรรพสินค้า, ศูนย์สรรพสินค้า, ศูนย์การค้าขนาดใหญ่
  • dirtiness (noun): the quality of being unclean or unpleasant - ความสกปรก
  • dust: very small pieces of dirt that cover surfaces inside buildings like a powder - ฝุ่น
  • exist: to be real; to be present in a place or situation - มีอยู่
  • expenses: money spent in doing a particular job, or for a particular purpose - ค่าใช้จ่าย
  • hardly ever: seldom - แทบจะไม่, ไม่ค่อยจะ
  • income: money that someone gets from working or from investing money - รายได้
  • no matter (who, what, etc.): always true, whatever the situation is - ไม่ว่าในกรณีใด, มิไย
  • normally: usually; in normal circumstances - โดยปกติ, ตามปกติ
  • pretend: to behave as if something is true when you know that it is not, especially in order to deceive people or as a game - แกล้งทำว่าเป็นจริง
  • purpose: the intention to achieve something - ความตั้งใจ, ความประสงค์, ความปรารถนา, ความตั้งใจ
  • recreational: involving enjoyment - เกี่ยวการสันทนาการ
  • rent: to pay money for the use of something for a period of time - เช่า
  • retired: no longer working because you have reached the age where you are officially too old to work or you want to stop working - เกษียณอายุ
  • salary: a fixed amount of money that you earn each month or year from your job - เงินเดือน
  • spotless (adj): perfectly clean - สะอาดสะอ้าน, ไม่มีรอยเปรอะเปื้อน, ไม่มีจุด
  • sweep: to clean a room, surface, etc. using a broom - กวาด
  • the lion's share (idiom): the largest or best part of something when it is divided - ส่วนแบ่งที่มากที่สุด, ส่วนแบ่งที่ดีที่สุด
  • tidy (adj): arranged neatly and with everything in order - ที่เป็นระเบียบ, ที่เป็นระเบียบเรียบร้อย
  • unnecessary (adj): not needed; not necessary - ที่ไม่จำเป็น, ที่เกินจำเป็น
  • wipe: to rub something against a surface, in order to remove dirt or liquid from it; to rub a surface with a cloth, etc. in order to clean it - เช็ด
  • worth it: useful, important or good enough to be a suitable reward for the time spent or the effort made - คุ้มค่ากับความพยายาม

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