Monday, January 11, 2016

Brazilian Manners, or Lack There Of

Brazilians are both extremely rude and annoyingly polite. Here's a perfect example: Brazilian have never heard of a queue. It's one of my biggest pet peeves. When I'm trying to cash out at a store or waiting for a clerk's attention, it's too common for someone to step directly in front of me. I see it everywhere. When I registered my son for school there were about four of us in line as only one clerk was working that afternoon. In barges a lady with her (by my guess) twelve year old daughter, who is by the way caked in makeup. The kind of too-young-for-makeup look that sticks out like a sore thumb. The shimmery pink lip gloss and eye shadows that are completely wrong for one's complexion and applied exactly the way a pre-teen would apply them. Yep. That. She walked past everyone, edged her way to the window, and waited. I turned to my husband and said, in loud clear English, "This is exactly the type of shit I'm talking about. Brazilians have absolutely no couth." He smiled and looked a little embarrassed and said, "I know." And yet no one said a word. (Other than me, but no one can understand me anyway).

Today I returned to the school to figure out who his teacher was and if there was a list of materials we needed to purchase - since, you know, they never informed us about any of this information. There were two women at the window and I got in line behind them. Soon another woman came behind me. She asked me a question and I told her, "Sorry, I'm not sure and I don't speak Portuguese very well." Then she asked one of the women in front of me, who didn't know either, and then asked them to ask for her. EXCUSE ME. I'm also here to ask a question. Is it too much to wait? The woman in front of me asked for her, then they both left. And I stood in line for another 30 minutes like a complete asshole to spend 30 seconds asking two questions and 10 seconds to be told, "All that gets sorted out at orientation on the first day." great. thanks. *BTW it's 99F and air conditioning in Brazil is a luxury not reserved for waiting rooms.

We recently spent ten days in Vitoria with my husband's family and at one point my sister-in-law said, "Jeanie has so much education." She had just poured me a glass of water, so it seemed like a random thing to say. Around the room everyone started agreeing with her and I had to ask what she meant by that. (Sometimes I'm not sure when I'm being made fun of. Like when I told my mother-in-law I need chocolate when it's that time of the month and she replied, "Oh, chic." I'm still not sure if that was a slight, but I'm not dwelling on it.) My sister-in-law explained, "You always say please and thank you for everything." My mother-in-law said, "She's even got me saying it!" I explained that it is considered rude not to do so in the United States and that saying please and thank you were a normal part of our culture and that we teach it to children. Even here my kids have to say please and thank you for everything. And when our nephew is over, he's required to say it as well. My mother-in-law always pays when we go anywhere, especially to eat, and I always make a point to say thank you in a very sincere way, because I know that money is not easy to come by here. I also come from a family where I pay/paid for everything (even if I was with my parents), so I understand how it feels not to be thanked. I fully understand that it's a cultural thing, but it just seems weird to not show appreciation for something.

Here's another one: the grocery store was packed because on Sundays the stores only open for a few hours. I'm in the "10 items or less" line with five other people and we all have one item. In front of us is a man with clearly twenty plus items. And yet no one said a word. It's this weird politeness that I think allows these people to behave in a manner that they otherwise would not.

However, I'll end this post with a Brazilian Justice Boner story. I went to the grocery store earlier to get some meat for lunch. Again I'm in the "10 items or less" line and a woman in front of me has twenty plus items. The cashier looked at me, then looked at her, and asked how many items she had. She said she wasn't sure. The cashier said the line was for 10 items or less and that she had too many. She replied, "Well I have three milks." Let me point out that she still would have been way the fuck over 10 items. The cashier said, "Three milks is still three things. You'll have to go to another line." JUSTICE BONER ACTIVATE!

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