Thursday, June 26, 2014

Did I miss the memo?

Living abroad means that sometimes you just don’t get the memo. In the beginning I was ever-vigilant about things like what time to actually show up when invited for lunch at 12:30, or how best to befriend your new housekeeper, communicating respect, without totally freaking her out with your openness, or who to kiss hello and goodbye (including your dentist or cardiologist) and with how many slightly audible smacks.

I got the memo in advance about what to take to the beach (i.e. not a big towel, nor nearly anything else for that matter). My husband keeps slipping me the memo about flattery working better than sternness every time I get frustrated with a bank manager. And my mother-in-law has not given up trying to get me to read the memo about the omnipotence of the Brazilian family matriarch.

If you are no longer a teenager... wear the Speedo. [These boys look like they need some sunscreen as well!]

It didn't take long after I starting living here before I had to decide on which futebol team would be “my team.” Or better put, which team “was I?” According to the memo, here in Brazil people are not asking you which team you root for, they want to know which team you are. If you are asked: “What is your favorite futebol team?” the right answer begins with: “I am….” Nowadays my response is “Eu sou Flamengo.” “I am Flamengo.” Got it.

And speaking of futebol, there were a whole bunch of memos that must have gone out just before the World Cup started. Some I got, like the one that said to wear green and yellow on all game days. Everyone (EVERYONE), in any context, seems to have gotten that memo.

Several of my students slipped me the memo that said all bets are off regarding scheduled appointments or classes on game days for Brazil. Plus in Rio – if there is ANY game happening at Maracanã stadium, chances are businesses are closed (city government offices are certainly closed) or appointments are cancelled to avoid the craziness on the streets.

The one I didn't get (but should have anticipated) is the one that apparently told most workers that even though their boss will call them in for half a day on game days, letting them go a few hours before match time, they really don’t have to actually get any work done. So any attempt by unfamiliar gringos like me to, say, do some banking, or get a phone company issue resolved, or speak with a representative from the health insurance company --- forgeddaboutit.

OK, that’s fine. It's all good. Now I know. I’m not in a hurry anyway… For all intents and purposes, business in Brazil resumes in mid-July, after the World Cup has come to a (hopefully glorious) conclusion. Got the memo.


Anonymous said...

I know exactly what you are saying. Between students cancelling because of Brazil games, me cancelling because of England games (at least that won't be happening any more), everyone cancelling because of games in Curitiba and the odd holiday thrown in for good measure, I have hardly done anything for the last two weeks.

Not that I am complaining, mind.

Anonymous said...

I have followed you here from Rachel's Rantings... As someone new to the area, I have been so grateful for the generosity of the blogging community in offering these posts. I too have a persistent MIL who believes herself omnipotent. I also missed the memo on local salaries and snarkiness of HR officers in the local job market.

Wish I had received those memos a long time ago!!

Which memos do you lament missing in advance of your arrival? or even today?