Friday, September 29, 2006

Need to rant a bit now...

Sunday is general elections day in Brasil. As a Brazilian Citizen living abroad, I also need to vote here, in the Embassy of course. Just for President at least.

Every year those people from the Embassy send me an email confirming details for the day. Not this year though.

Since I like to have everything confirmed an so on, what did I do? First thing in the morning called them (yes, today). Follows the painful dialog:

Me - Good Morning (all in portuguese)... I would like to confirm about the elections on Sunday.

Satan's minion - What about the Elections?

Me - Ehr, hmmm... if they will happen, if they are confirmed?...

Satan's minion - Of course! Don't you see that everywhere in the newspapers and TV etc?

(Moment of silence, I was shocked... For Chrissake, I do live in Ireland now, not in Brasil! Which newspapers is he on about? Which TV? Sesame Street Expatriate News??? Just to confirm if everything was OK there, times, blah blah. The basics, really)...

Me, after-shock, intimidated- It's just because every year you send me an email to confirm and this year you did not, and I... I'd like to confirm that it's OK, just that.

Satan's minion, with a condescending tone of course - Yes, from 8am to 5pm.

Me - O-OK then. T-thanks...

Aaarrghh... I wish I haven't been so shocked or perplexed and replied accordingly at the time. I mean, treating him like a "fellow eejit", but I could not. Seriously, what could I expect? No wonder Brazilian civil servants have a bad reputation. They can be very, very obnoxious and have this icredible power to make you feel as if you were owing them a favour, or as if you were a helpless, pitiful, terminal moron. Mind you, not all of them are like this, of course. But there's something about having a bureaucratic sort of a "mystical aura" with some of them. As if you were just a pile of worthless dust in comparison, and they the Almighty-Chosen-Ones.

They certainly have no Customer Services training, or nothing of that sort. Because, we citizens are their Customers in the end, no?

I expected that, by living here, at least I would be spared that kind of awkward situation. But no. No. I also expected that, somehow, they would have become a tad more educated, polite, helpful. No again. It's all the same. All the bloody same!

And then, I need to vote for President. Who will probably be - again - the same one we have right now, the same one who apparently likes to send money (that Brasil, let's face it, doesn't even have), to terrorists (or so it's said). The same one that admires figures like Hugo Chávez. Nice, no??? See, things will never, ever change up there, and it's so sad. I would love to go back, but those things just freak me out. And all that ancient, almost chronical bureaucracy. I start to get stressed just to think about it. I feel really bad. It's not even the violence that scares me, but that kind of behaviour, which seems to be turning into a standard.

(By the way, is something like "free speech" still allowed? I hope so.)

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