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Americans are rude

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So are the French, as long as I’m classifying entire populations.  Seriously though, when compared to Brasil, us Americans are down right rude.  I am pretty rude as a person too (my father constantly points out I’ve been on the “mainland” too long and have lost my Aloha).

Brasilians are not as direct as Americans, but that’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about how we treat each other. Recently on my trip back to the US I was able to more clearly see the differentiation between Americans and Brasilians.

I’m traveling, I’m tired, I’m alone, and I’ve got a 1 year old strapped to my chest.  To an American, I’m just another weary traveler, they don’t notice me any more than any other person they pass.  In fact if they do notice me, it’s because they’re eyeing me with the look of “PLEASE let her not be near me on the plane.”

Brasilians, and I could always tell them, they asked if they could help carry one of my bags, how I was doing, if I needed help.  On planes with Americans, I felt the “please don’t let that child make a damn noise on this plane, touch me or kick the back of my seat” vibe… and I felt it VERY strongly.  I felt even more pressure for my angel to behave (and he travels EXTREMELY well trust me).  In fact the only time he cried was when the infant 2 seats behind us started screaming, and his mom started going through the overheads looking for her bag (She opened about 10 bins, before finding it) at about 2 am waking his sleeping highness up.  Wen I flew back to Brasil, the woman  helped me shove my extremely heavy backpack up to the shelf, moving around other luggage (I’ve never had an American woman help lift anything heavy when traveling).  As I sat down, a guy a seat back on the aisle, asked the woman to ask me if I wanted his coveted aisle seat since I had a young child, and may want to get up and down frequently.

Let’s contrast this with the experience my friend who was 9 months pregnant taking a bus in LA.  No one would stand up for her and no one cared.  A couple of our co-workers chimed in that when in the “zone” they don’t really notice what’s going on around them, and maybe they had earbuds in.  That’s the thing though, in Brasil SOMEONE is always watching, and if they feel that you’re the person who needs to help or give up their seat, they’ll make sure that if you don’t realize you’re being rude, you’re told to help.  It’s just the culture here. I’ve always gotten a seat on a bus or the metro when traveling with my son, and everyone is soo friendly and loving towards my kid.

I’ve also noticed and seen this mentioned around the web, that Americans are very obsessed with what people to do.  It’s true, it is part of the “Hi, what’s your name, why are you here, what do you do?” line of questions.  Brasilians seem to care about what you feel, your stories, where you’ve been, what you’ve seen, your family, how you feel.  They’re not interested in the boring day-to-day dull stuff that let’s be honest, us Americans don’t care about either.  Brasilians want to know who you are as a person, what makes you happy, what makes you sad, and I love that about this country.  I sat next to two Brasilians and they never once asked me why I was going to the US, just questions about my son and told me stories about their kids, and how they would miss their children.  Stories about cute things their child did, things they love about Brasil, or looking forward to in the US, not one thing about their job, or what they were doing in the US.


About scrubgrub

I'm just another soul on the internet, posting random thoughts into the ether, because well I love stumbling on other peoples random thoughts, so I figured why not add mine to the mix too. I'm also the mom to two very funny little boys, and how can you not share that with everyone?

18 responses »

  1. I recently traveled to the U.S. with my 3 year old and found exactly the same thing. Brazilians helped me with my carry-ons as I struggled, Brazilians asked us about our life in Brazil while we waited for the plane. The Americans just stayed away to avoid any trouble or being put out. OK, I’m generalizing too, but you definitely see the difference. (When at the airport in the U.S. did an employee ever come out of nowhere and bring you to the front of the line because you were with a small child? When? Never.)

  2. LOL, but it’s SOOO fun to generalize! Umm I actually have asked in the U.S. airports and have been told that I didn’t pay for that privilege, and to get back in line.

  3. Sad, but true! People could not care less here!

  4. Well, I think Brazil is super child friendly. I am looking forward to having a baby in Brazil. AND America is a pronatal country however, they hate kids and pregnant women. They want to run them over. Yes, sad and true.

    But it’s something we should try fix and understand it comes with the country. It’s like Brazil and the stealing or corruption, it’s part of the history. Yes it needs to change, but it’s a process and deeply ingrained in the culture. We need to fight for people to change. I would file a complaint with the airlines if you feel that it’s not a child friendly space. Say something official. You are a paying customer. I think we Americans should tell our counterparts, hey man it’s not like this in Brazil. We need to respect kids and moms.

    I hope the U.S. will change, but with low birth rates and high capitalism it’s probably not anytime soon. I think it’s really relative too. I feel many times, that the people in my area of Brazil are really rude and just what to go into some wooded area and scream for about five minutes. But really it’s about my culture and my background, I just don’t see eye to eye. I like to smile at people and say hi, small talk on the street. However, normal in many parts in Brazil this is not the way people behave in Campinas.

    • yeah it’s true each country has it’s foibles. The red tape and need for “jeito” in Brasil says a ton. Oh and don’t worry, I have shared me complains with the airlines… come on I’m so opinionated that I have to have a blog, how could I not share my extreme frustration with the airlines… though to be honest I’m really getting sick of complaining about the poor customer service. And yes it is relative, when flying through Utah everyone’s nice and happy because they’re a baby friendly state, California, it’s a different story, and Texas is some where in between.

      Paulistianos are supposed to be colder too, and I’ve seen that to an extent, where people don’t just invite you into their friendship circles like I’ve always seen in the US, so yes city by city things do change. But heck, generalizations are funner 😉

  5. I have to say I have seen an older lady volunter to calm down a screaming child right out of the arms of a young unexperienced mother. The older lady became the plane’s hero. 🙂
    I confess that I am guilty of venting on my blog about crying children in a plane. But I would never give young parents “dirty” looks or tell them anything rude.
    I pray, I cry, I sell my own kidney and get an upgrade to Business or First, but I would never turn against the parent with the screaming child.
    I know of only 3 alternatives to avoid screaming children on a plane, upgrade, upgrade, upgrade. Young parents with children can’t afford First or Business. I never ever saw children flying First or Business. I can’t afford either, but I am lucky to work for companies that have always treated me well. 🙂


    • haha I was directly behind first class… and the lady with the screaming new born that woke my son up at 2am was 2 rows behind me. So I’m not sure I agree with the upgrade, upgrade, upgrade rule. Plus whenever I fly to Hawaii it seems there is always a crew (with nanny of course) sitting in first class. And yes, not all Americans are rude, I’ve had people offer to help, and I’ve seen older ladies help as well. But girls my age, we’re rude, and I’ve yet to encounter one my age or younger that’s actually helpful…. ok generalization but just saying.
      But you are right, normally if the kid is in first or business, the family has enough common sense and courtesy to keep their child under control.

    • Well Ray, lucky for you that you weren’t on the plane when my husband and I, and our 4 kids ages 5, 4, 2 1/2, and 15months all flew from the US to Brazil.. BUSINESS class. 😉 I know everyone in there was nervous when we boarded, but not as nervous as when American Airlines told us they positions us and our kids in different seats all over business class! Smooth move AA! lol Needless to say, we had to ask people to move around so no one was volunteered to babysit our kiddos through the night!

      PS. Sad but SOOO true post!

      • seriously AA is just slow… normally you’d think they’d talk to everyone before hand… i.e “hey you’re sitting next to a 2 year old, can we move you around so their parent is next to them. Talk about customer service.

  6. Great post. I, too, have had the experience of never being asked “what do you do?” at a party or among family gatherings. Here’s what I think: In a place like Brazil, where simple/regular people have such difficulty making money and making ends meet – and where wages can be so low – it is not polite to ask people where/how they get their money.

    So many people have stitched together strategies for survival (legal and otherwise) that you just don’t go there.

    Focus on the positive.

  7. Ugh, I totally agree. Its amazing how much I notice now when I go back without kids! As much as I laugh about the extended greetings, they really do care here. They are always available to help the bus is just incredible to watch how forgiving people are. Women in seats offer carry my heavy bags, men and women get up immediate for an older person or mom and child or pregnant women. Its awesome, I do wish it would spill over.

    As far as business and first re: Ray, my friends take their 3 month olds in first and business so there sometimes is no escaping it!

  8. Brazil is very child friend!

    BTW I have seen kids at business and first class.

  9. Brazil is very child friendly!

    BTW I have seen kids at business and first class.

  10. Ok, let me clarify, I also avoid flying to Brazil from anywhere in Florida, that is HUGE if you want to avoid kids.
    I usually fly out of New York, not a typical child destination for Brazilians.
    I also fly the Boston to London route often, where I get most of my connections to anywhere else in the world I travel for business, and thank the sweet baby Jesus, I have never seen kids in these routes either.
    If there were kids in First or Business in any flight I have ever been, they were so well behaved, they went unnoticed.
    I also know for a fact that many wealthy Brazilians fly First and have their nannies with the kids flying in coach. Which makes sense, kids are small and don’t really need a 5 thousand dollar First class ticket to fly in comfort.
    I am sure if you take flights out of Miami or Orlando to Brazil, you would be seeing kids all over the place. So far, I have been lucky and blessed. 🙂


  11. Uau! I think these amazing comparisons between Brazilians and Americans … I think that in fact the two cultures are good, but both has its drawbacks, should be just that. =)

  12. Couldn’t agree with you more. I also make the same generalizations whenever I travel outside Latin America.

    A guy kept looking at my energetic three-year-old, running up and down the aisle in a train in Canada, chattering to herself in mixed Portuguese and English. I kept avoiding his gaze, thinking that he must be another annoyed traveller. (Not that she had annoyed that many people, but I think at least twice during recent weeks someone had commented when she had been bouncing on the seats or kicking the seat in front of her. They were very polite and completely right – but I couldn’t help but think that in Brazil, no one would have said ANYTHING. Except to exclaim about how sweet, charming etc. she is.) Anyway, so I ignored him for a bit, until he broke in and asked “ela fala português? I was so relieved that he was just a friendly Brazilian, instead of another annoyed North American!

  13. Interesting post! The USA is hostile towards children….I’ve been on so many planning committees that didn’t want a play structure in the park(!) because kids are too loud!!! Oh lordy. This was in California. But, I am not pro-everyone-have-a child. You may be shocked at the amount of American women who have confided in me that they wish they had never had kids.

    When I lived in Istanbul, and a woman got on the bus/metro with a child, they just plopped them in your lap and remained standing. I was shocked the first time that happened.


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