There’s a few things here that, even after almost a year, still puzzle me. I’m not entirely put off by them, but I do really wonder why Brazilians do these things.
For instance, why is it that if I’m waiting for a bus at a certified Bus Stop, I still need to flag down the bus I want or else it’ll drive right by? This doesn’t happen at home, does it? I was never one for taking city busses at home (New Haven, Boston) so I’m not sure if this is normal. A few weeks ago, as I stood waiting for a bus after school, I was distracted by some small insignificant thought or object, and my bus drove right by me. I waited ten more minutes for another one to drive by.
Likewise, with buses, aren’t they supposed to work on a circuit or something? Because yesterday, on the way to school, I was on the 2.49 bus. And as we were stopped to pick up some people at a stop, a second 2.49 drove right in front of us, cut us off at the same stop, and stopped to pick up or drop off more people. Is this allowed? Do buses compete with each other on the same line?
Furthermore, if I take the 2.60 bus, which is a much shorter ride to school than the 2.49, it is crammed so full of people I literally cannot move. I know this is NOT normal on buses since it’s got to be a hazard. Imagine if there were a crash. I watch people pile onto these buses and I am absolutely floored by how calm everyone is, how willing they are to jam into each other’s armpits and sit on each other’s laps. It’s really puzzling, really claustrophobic. Once I rode a bus that was so crowded I was cramped in behind the driver’s seat, in a roped off area, and still the bus driver was letting more people in. There must have been 80 people on that bus, and that’s not an exaggeration.
Second, why is it that change doesn’t matter? Why is it that if I take a cab, and it comes to let’s say R$11,65, the cab driver will just be “okay” with R$11? Don’t those 65 centavos matter? And did you know you can also just pay later? Like, “Hey, I don’t have the money on me right now. Can I give you a call and pay you later?” Do they even think this way in the States? Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a great idea. But think of all the possibilities for ripping businesses off! It’s astounding, really, to think about the lax business practices here. If I wanted to protect my small business, the last thing I’d do is allow transient people to pay later. Maybe it’s just me, I don’t know. But, then again, when I get a bill in the mail, I have seven days to pay it, unlike the thirty days at home. So I guess when they demand money here, they really put the pressure on.
Third, why is it so hard to open things here? I swear, they seal up everything except for window frames with super glue and/or welding material. Last night, for instance, I tried to open up a new bottle of mustard. I removed the cap and began to tear off the plastic protective layer when I realized my own strength was useless. I used my teeth, my fingernails, and eventually a knife to get that little thing off, after which it sprayed yellow mustard all over my shirt. And just now, I tried to open a riem of paper that was sealed in plastic wrap and glued together so tightly I wondered if it was even worth it for me to put in the effort to make a photocopy.
And also, you can pay for ANYTHING in ten payments. Sneakers, that are already ungodly expensive, you can pay for in ten easy payments. You can pay for airline tickets, DVDs, clothing, cars…well, I’m not sure about cars….purses, jewelry, TVs, blenders. At Carrefour, the equivalent of Wal-Mart here, they sell all the electronics in payments of 10. So the price they advertise is 1/10th that of the regular price, so you have to be careful. For instance, I saw a CD player a couple of months ago for R$29,90. “Great!” I thought. “SO cheap!” Until I saw the fine print beneath it saying “x10”, bringing the grand total to R$299,00. Not so great.
I’m not so sure about the point of all this, other than sometimes, like right now when I’m frustrated with inconsequential things like paper riems, it’s nice to be able to get them all off my chest. Thank you so much for listening.
You may continue with your day now.