I can think of nothing more enjoyable than being shuffled around from person to person, department to department, place to place, in an endless search for viable responses to my questions or concerns.
In Brazil you may have to purify your water before drinking it and hang dry your clothes after washing, but when it comes to the bureaucracy of getting things done, Brazil has their system down to a science (like the way a mad scientist performs elaborate and unnecessary experiments to complete menial tasks).
You may have already encountered a situation in which you call customer service (god forbid), and after patiently wading through the labyrinth of menus and correctly inputting the secret password of numbers that gets you a live person (because that’s what everyone wants in the first place) you are up and transferred to some distant realm of the phone menu universe and must repeat the whole process. This is what it is like to live (and accomplish the most mundane tasks) in Brazil on a daily basis.
REAL LIFE EXAMPLE
Let’s start with something basic: you want to buy a delicious coxinha (or perhaps an açaí). So you meander down to the corner store and place an order with the person standing behind the counter.
Woah buddy, calm down, you’re taking things way too quickly here. So now after being refused your tasty snack you hobble over (you hobble now because you’re sad) to a small glass booth housing a miserable looking employee who will apparently take your order. Speaking through a small hole cut in the glass you place your order, pay and receive a receipt. However, this is no ordinary receipt as you will soon find out.
Now let’s return to the guy behind the counter – receipt in hand you watch him as he does nothing. Didn’t he get your order? No you idiot, there are no magic computers here to communicate orders. So now you approach the counter looking like a lost child in a department store and you really aren’t sure what to do…
THEN YOU LEARN
As you stand, receipt in hand, wondering how to get your tasty snack, a Brazilian comes up to the counter, whistles at the employee and is helped – and then you see it: the new customer (and your now mentor) exchanges his receipt for the deliciousness.
Now you try, and the employee, taking your valuable piece of paper, asks you what you want. “It doesn’t say on the receipt?” you ask. No. It doesn’t. So you point into the glass prison of salgados to your coxinha, and now you have finally completed your mission. I really thought that was going to be a lot easier; I can’t even imagine what the DMV must be like.