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.