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Consideration for Who Should wai Who

Wai at McDonalds

There is no universal rule for who wais who but the main things for consideration are Status, Age and Position.

For example, one of your friend's parents (higher status) is a cleaner (lower position) at your office: you should wai the cleaner. Normally people of lower status wai higher status people. You don't wai everyone. However, sometimes someone who is higher might wai an audience. A manager doesn't wai subordinates.

If someone is at a considerably higher status than yourself, you might wai and the other person might only bow their head slightly. Usually such people Ѻ rab wai anyway because they are so used to doing it.

It is considered nice if you wai someone lower if they have gone out of their way for you, but the higher you are in comparison, the less trouble it is for them. In this type of wai, the fingertips are at mouth height.

A good rule of thumb is never wai children or those younger than you.

Remarks on wai usage

  1. People wai Royal family members (the high ranking ones) under all circumstances no matter their age.
  2. Many supermarkets and petrol stations now make their employees wai the customers and they wai most of their customers except children. It's normal for a salesperson to wai their customers but not for a supermarket cashier or petrol station attendant. Nevertheless, if someone wais you, you must rab wai - receive the wai.
  3. Some people wai everyone when they are candidates for election as they expect votes from the people they wai.
  4. If you don't wai someone they will think that you don't like them. Always wai the people you should. If you are not physically able to do so then at least bow your head and say sawasdee.
  5. If someone tells you there is "no need to wai" them, you should still wai them if they give you something. People like to receive it, saying not to bother is just a way of being nice.

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