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Category Archives: O jeito Brasileiro

Rude much?

So, at risk of offending all of Brasil I begin this post.

Brasilians are kind of rude. When speaking to others they don’t tend to use please, would you, and thank you. It is much more of a command language. I.e. “Shut the door.” Versus “please shut the door.”

But that is not just my observation, just something shared with me by several Brasilians and confirmed by my husband.
My observation is around how  Brasilians like to boss.   I ran across a magazine article on how you should treat your maid. There is a general theme of micro management, stern lord over you attitude, where you can say some pretty direct things. Which is some what the opposite of what I’ve seen of Brasilian culture…non confrontational.

Brasilians don’t usually say things straight out. They will omit phone numbers so you can’t call. Create family emergencies, and generally avoid root issues. Except when you are the boss or seen in a position where you’ve got seniority (i.e. you’re not the maid). Then it seems to be free reign on being bossy.  My husband has witnessed at work a very different management style than one you would find in the US, i.e. public reprimands, yelling, and general insults to those under you. Don’t worry I said witnessed, not  received.  But it’s just not something you would see in a highly corporate environment normally, it happens don’t get me wrong, but it’s usually industry or small company specific, and looked down upon as bad management style.

Things an American would never come up to a stranger and say, people have no problem telling my maid.  They of course never ever say these things to me, I’m a Dona, but she’s a baba, and anything they think she’s doing wrong, they take it upon themselves to “help me” by reprimanding her.

And that’s my small observation, from my small little world that I have in Brasil. Could be totally off base, but for now that’s it.



multi-car accident

So like Hawaii, Brasil is a no-fault state.. i.e. you have to have insurance and you have to pay for everything 100%.  My husband (thinking how bad could it be) signed up for a 2k deductible.  SOOO re-thinking that decision now.  See a car rear ended another car a few weeks ago, followed by the next car in line,  and then my husband slammed on the breaks and slid through the Brasilian rain into the car in front of him.  It was a small fender bender, or in our case the hood is now bent down– possibly permanently locking our hood shut.

So of course with an accident the Brasilian jeito has really come out.  Because my husband was last in line, everyone wanted him to take the fall.  The guy my husband hit doesn’t have insurance to cover himself, just those he hits, so he doesn’t want to cover things.  The first guy obviously doesn’t want to pay for anything, and the girl who hit him, well she didn’t hit my husband, so doesn’t have to pay for our damages.  It’s no-fault remember.  Of course, my husband wasn’t going to go down for a 4 car accident, and reported what happened to the police exactly as it happened.

Jeito is stronger than reality however, and so the insurance agent of the woman called my husband..

“um can you take full responsibility for everything and have your insurance pay it?”

Of course, even though I’m married to an American, the jeito is even stronger with my husband (the stories I have of him and his jeito… well they can’t be published for obvious reasons).  My husband told the agent he would be happy to take full responsibility and make his insurance pay, if the other cars cover our deductible.  The agent told him he’d think about it, and then the answer turned out to be no.  No biggie for us in the end, just would have been nice.

Then a few days later the call came from the agent again.

“Hey can we take you up on that offer, where we pay your deductible?”

At this point my husband had already filed with the insurance company, as he was anticipating an after the fact move where the female driver’s agent tried to pin it on my husband anyway.  So we said no, too late already file.

And that’s when the threats began.

“We’ll lie.  We will make the other drivers say you did it, as then they’re off the hook for paying for damages too, and it’s in their incentive to help us.”

You can see how we could have been on the line for everything right? Oh yeah, did I mention the girl’s dad is a lawyer?  Hubby called the driver he hit (the one without insurance) and explained that with my husband’s insurance report, his statement and my husband’s statements to the police it was likely that our insurance would call foul, not believe the lies, and then the tricky girl would then blame the whole accident on this guy, since he was next in line and he didn’t have cool, awesome expat car insurance.

It worked, no more threatening calls, and it seems that our car that was already in an accident from the previous owner, will finally get the fixing up it needs.  We won’t look so sad an pathetic driving the streets of Sao Paulo.  Although I often tell myself, by having a crappy car we are less of a target for break ins and robberies (not that I’m really worried about that).


San Francisco comes to Brasil

Ok not really, but kind of…see plastic bags are prohibited in San Francisco.  This really shouldn’t be a surprised as San Francisco is the most liberal, green, super government regulates everything city in the US.  But today a friend mentioned that at Extra they were charged .50 for a plastic bag, as in January all plastic bags will be outlawed.   So thanks to Google I confirmed it, I totally missed the announcement in May when the law was passed.  It was also put on hold by the supreme court, but I think it will still take affect in January now.


A couple of arguments against the ban made me laugh.  One of them was that the lower income people use the plastic bags as garbage bags, and now they’ll have to buy real garbage bags.  This totally made me laugh, because that’s what we horde them for, all of the little trash cans in our house.  And in Brasil, with the whole don’t flush the toilet thing, I can see how families go through these little plastic baggies in bulk!  Yeah I have a nice big bag that I use to carry stuff in, as it’s sturdy and helps in walking home, but those little plastic baggies are so useful.  And when you have a kid in diapers, those baggies make things nicer when you’re on the go (for everyone).  I had to laugh at the argument against this, basically that the poor people should be happy that they won’t get to use the plastic baggies anymore, as then people will buy the proper plastic bags for trash, so then they won’t break and get all over the street especially when it rains, or clog the gutters (at least that’s what I got from my portuguese readings).

Per the law however it seems there still will be plastic bags for use at the feiras (street fairs), or for putting your meat (cuz seriously I don’t want my samonella mixing with my fresh fruit), or milk/dairy products.

The interesting thing is, in San Francisco they at least provided an alternative… these cornstarch based bags or paper bags. Here the only thing they’ve got are these teensy plastic bags, so they’re even one step more hardcore than San Francisco.

It will be interesting to see how the Brasilian jeito comes out, as even though buying a reusable bag once isn’t too much money, it does kind of suck when you bring one of those bags and then buy a little bit more than can fit in one, and are at the store forced to buy another one. For me not a big deal, for a Brasilian on a tight budget, I’m gonna say that’s the difference between milk for breakfast or not.  Plus why pay for something you know you could get for free… I guess we’ll see people using boxes to load things more now too, as like I said, paper bags don’t exist here.  Probably a good thing, as we all love the rain forest as it is now, not as a big soybean farm.


Our neighborhood Recycle Man

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Sorry for the bad photo, best angle I could get

All neighborhoods have them, they probably have a few (it seems we do).  When we first moved here, I looked out our window and saw a large dumpster in the street (across the street was doing construction).  Some guys came and went through the bin, VERY thoroughly and took everything recyclable or semi usable out.  They were pulling hand carts, and my lil’ American mind thought, oh how interesting the government recycling guys.

So now that I’ve been here longer, I’m a little more aware.  These are the guys I always saw in downtown LA or at the beaches in Hawaii digging for plastic bottles and cans to recycle.  Except these guys take it to the Brazilian extreme. They’ve got the jeito going on.

See, our building even asks us to separate out our recyclables and I think sets them out for these guys.  I’ve noticed around town, all of the cardboard laid out for these guys.  Businesses hand them their boxes for them to recycle it.  It’s not just dumpster diving, they’ve got a symbiotic relationship going on with those with money.

I feel bad, as really how much could they be pulling in with recycling, compared to how much they’re pulling around on these handcarts.  But I also really respect them, and others who go out and try and find a way to make money.

So exactly when are we going to be mugged?

I think that’s the question on most of our family’s minds.  They told us not to go, it was too dangerous.  Let’s face it, there are some scary things that happen here in Brasil.  While in Utah on the international page of the newspaper I happened upon an article noting how a judge was killed in broad daylight by 8 dirty cops (they’d taken over the Favelas from the drug lords and were running it mafia style).  Anyway, people ask all the time how safe is Brasil? Can you drive down the street with your windows open? Can you walk anywhere? Have you been mugged?  I’ve been told by people that you never walk anywhere, it’s too dangerous.  And to all of that, I laugh.  Maybe I’m naive, but I tend to think that my odds in life are good.  I will walk to the store at 9pm at night.  I drive with my car window down, and I take photos all over Sao Paulo with my smart phone.  I’ve even been known to flash a 50 at the feira. 🙂

from Aljazeera

This morning (6am ish) we awoke to 2 gunshots.  Followed by a very very loud shouting match between what sounded like a husband and wife, and then some other guy (to which they all silenced down).  Fairly sure some angry guy shot off a gun in his house, thus the sudden eruption in yelling.  We couldn’t figure out where the sounds were coming from, as there are so many complexes around us, but it happened, it was interesting, and it made us laugh. And yes they were gunshots, we know what they sound like.  So it made me think, how dangerous is Brasil really? Even with gunshot sounds, my husband and I were more curious WHAT the fight was about then that someone shot a gun.

See the thing about Brasil is it is dangerous.  I would be unrealistic and lying if I didn’t type it out.

But when you think about this mega-city you don’t think of small town life, but it’s here.  If we took my mother in law and put her in downtown Los Angeles, she’d have the same stories of fear and death that I hear from the average Brasilian.  It also doesn’t help that the media here loves plastering bloody shot up corpses on their front page (sensational much). Brasilians are close, walking home I get accosted by random grandmas and grandpas all the time that just want to chat.  The last time some old guy approached me in LA he smelt of beer and urine.  People here are connected at a level that you don’t see in the big cities of the US, and with that comes sharing of stories… so I do think there is some exaggeration going on to a small extent.

They also live REALLY REALLY close to everyone, kind of like downtown Los Angeles.  See in downtown Los Angeles all the wine drinking yuppies with their teeny house dogs live just a few streets over from all the whino, druggies, with their tents and cardboard boxes.  The closeness means, the rich encounter the poor on a daily basis.  Unlike the rest of California, where those in Beverly Hills can feel nice and secure in their happy little utopia, as they know all of the “trouble” is freeways away in South Central.  Sao Paulo is like downtown Los Angeles, with favelas smashed up against the homes of the super rich…. you get all close and chummy like that rich folk are going to have bad things happen to them… those same bad things that probably happen to most poor folk in South Central.  Except if you’re rich and something happens to you, you’re going to exaggerate it 100% over because “things like that just shouldn’t happen to people like me.”