For seven of my 25 years in Thailand, I worked for a local chain of test-taking schools. A local version of, say, Kaplan, the students largely trying to go to university in the West. Mostly it taught the SAT and GRE exams but others too, for the US as well as other Western countries. The owner, a Chinese-Thai businessman who had built up the business single-handedly, was something of a quirky goofball. For example, he would dress only, and I mean only, in Versace clothing. Before the 1997 Asian financial crisis, he would travel internationally just to stock up on Versace clothing, because it was so much cheaper just about everywhere else due to heavy taxes on the stuff in Thailand. He would take along staff to bring back the clothing to Thailand, paying all expenses. I myself got free trips to Hong Kong and Japan just to return with his Versace clothing in my suitcase and pretend they were mine. Typically we staff would go on ahead, meet him at the airport in whatever country, accompany him on his Versace-buying spree for half a day, then see him back to the airport, and as a bonus we got a few free days to spend in said country before ourselves returning. A sweet deal. Fortunately, Customs never checked the sizes. Yes, I was a Versace smuggler, but there are much worse things to smuggle into and out of Thailand, believe me. After the '97 crash, prices everywhere shot up so much that he discontinued the practice, because it cost the same in Bangkok.
So anyway, he would get these wild hairs up his ass from time to time and on one occasion decided to hire only Burmese. The Thai Labor Department strictly regulates how much English-language schools can pay this or that foreign national. Americans, Brits, Aussies etc get top dollar, then there’s a sliding downward scale, and others such as Filipinos, Burmese etc can be paid much less. So the owner decided to hire all Burmese. He put an ad in the paper – this was pre-Internet – and a ton of Burmese applicants showed up, many of them with their entire family in tow. My job was test writer and academic adviser, but he tapped me to do some of the interviews. Now, Burmese do speak English, but it’s often a very flowery English with questionable grammar, akin to Indian nationals. We had a test we administered, it had misspellings and grammatical errors, all kinds of mistakes, and every interviewee was given it. The end result was not one single Burmese was hired, and the exercise was a complete waste of time. But there was this one old gentleman I still remember. He was late middle age, a very affable gent. He was unable to find even one mistake, he flunked the test handily, but he was quite cheerful about it. I pointed out to him that he scored a zero, and he just laughed and said he figured that would happen. Poor old guy. I still think about him.