Monday, September 20, 2021

Brazilian "Manners" Part II

I put Manners in quotations like a passive aggressive asshole because sometimes I just can't deal with the culture here. A friend recently clued me in to a Brazilian term - I do not know how to spell it - but it basically translates to "the way a monkey would behave." With the racism in Brazil, she was very concerned that I understood that it meant a literal monkey and did not coyly refer to dark skinned people (because you don't have to be black in Brazil to be "black.") Thankfully, she reassured me that I'm not alone in my frustrations and that many of these things frustrate Brazilians as well. I previously mentioned queues, please and thank you, and the 10 items or less line here. So let me run down some of the other things that make me want to scream.

1. Brazilian Time - We learned this in the United States with our Brazilian friends years ago, but it still irks me. Brazilians will habitually show up to a party two hours after it begins. A few times we've showed up on time, because I'm an uptight, former-military American, and the hosts thought we were crazy. When we had a backyard wedding in the states, we gave our Brazilian friends a start time of two hours before it actually started just to make sure they showed up at the actual start time. And we still delayed the ceremony for two hours waiting for a groomsman to show up. While in Vitoria I got to enjoy an evening at a high ranking officer's house and he told me how exasperating it is to try and accomplish anything in the government when everyone is on their own schedule. I understand that life here moves at a different pace and making business is less important that enjoying life, but I believe everyone's time is important and I loathe having mine wasted.

2. Everything is Grey - In the States, laws are largely black and white. Here everything is much more.. "mehhhh." Admittedly, this worked to our advantage while trying to transfer my husband's drivers license from the USA to Brazil. The list of required documents included something we didn't have (because sometimes countries think they understand how each other operate). My husband was able to make a few trips to Belo Horizonte and plead his case which resulted in the license being issued. However, it bit me right in the ass while trying to get my foreigner's ID. You see, in Brazil, last names are.... fluid... apparently... Typically when a woman gets married she drops the maternal part of her last name and picks up the paternal part of her husband's last name. For example: My mother-in-law is Teodoro de Melo. If my sister-in-law were to marry (purely for example) a Silva de Pilares, she would become a Teodoro de Silva. Or something like that - feel free to correct me in the comments because my other SIL sometimes goes by Pilares and sometimes Mendes and who the hell knows what her legal last name actually is. What I do know is that my foreigner's ID card has my maiden name on it because that what's on my birth certificate (obviously). I tried to explain to the only person in our city who handles foreigner's affairs that my CPF, SUS, passport, SSN, driver's license, and every other form of ID I have carry my married (aka legal) name, but she in turn handed me a list of seven documents I need to provide including a receipt for a R$60 tax fee and a copy of a clear police record in order to change my name on the ID. Yeah right. I'll just stick with my worthless ID, thanks.

3. Everyone is loud - 7 am? People yelling in the streets. 1 am? People yelling in the streets. We have this amazing form of advertisement in Brazil where cars drive around with giant speakers on their roofs, blasting advertisements. I mean really, do you remember the large Marshall speakers that all the coolest rockers used to have? Those. Multiple those. On top of their cars. Blasting advertisements. All day. Then there is the random politician or pastor or whoever that likes to stand in the intersection on Sundays and peddle the business of the day.

4. Leaving the Cashier - For my final rant, we return to the supermarket. It's a common Brazilian epiphany to realize you forgot butter! cheese! beer! what the fuck ever! once you're standing in line to check out. Obviously, the only proper course of action is to leave your cart or basket, declaring your place in line, to gather the rest of your items. Sometimes this epiphany even occurs as the cashier is ringing up your belongings and you should be pulling out your wallet. Grocery shopping in Brazil gives me a lot of anxiety and despite what my husband thinks, I try to avoid it at all costs. When I see you leave the register or line, I want so badly to throw your things down the closest aisle. I understand that this is a cultural norm, but it feels like such a selfish, "what I need to do is more important than what you need to do," slap in the face. And to be honest, I'm usually already frustrated by the time I get to the register because navigating the aisles is a nightmare. Everyone is all over the place and no one has a problem with getting directly in your path or blocking an aisle. Sometimes I want to scream, "Do you see me balancing a baby on one hip and trying my best to keep a second kid from pulling everything off the shelves? GET OUT OF THE FUCKING WAY!"