American Confession

Amidst my attempts to become a bit more Brazilian, I must confess to something very anti-Brazilian (well, anti- any self respecting middle to upper class Brazilian – see posts by fellow bloggers Danielle and Rachel for an analysis of the social/economic system).

We have been staying at my husband’s apartment in Rio this week. Usually when we are here, a housekeeper appears at least every couple days to clean up and make some food. This time she didn’t show, nor was there any mention of her. She being my mother-in-law’s housekeeper, I didn’t ask – sometime you are just better off not knowing. But as anyone living in Rio knows, things get dirty. Plus, we are in what feels like the middle of a small jungle surrounded by tropical plant life, so that means the extra large windows bring in lots of small creatures that like to die on the floor.

So I got out the broom, bucket and sponges and scrubbed everything. Got down on my knees and scrubbed the floor. It had been quite awhile, but you know what? It felt really good. There must be some sort of endorphin that’s release when you perform a task such as this cause I was flying for the rest of the day.

Which brings me to my own social/economic rant about Brazil. Many, or perhaps most of the country’s decision makers, both corporate and political, never cleaned a floor. As we Americans were led to believe – hard work builds character – the kind of hard work that involves labor. Brazil has a chance, though fleeting as that seems to be, to grab a rung of the global power ladder. But it is so immersed in nepotism, corruption and just lack of the “hunger” that drove many of America’s most successful entrepreneurs and politicians, I fear it might not have the character required to make it.

Not that the U.S. hasn’t had its stumbling block in the same subject. I’m pretty sure Bill Clinton had to pick up his toys. And I’m pretty sure George W. Bush did not.

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9 Responses to American Confession

  1. Brasilicana says:

    Great insight. I agree, there’s this culture in Brazil of “keep your position of power and keep everyone else down” that you see even, surprisingly, in small business owners, who you’d think might be more compassionate to their employees, who are also trying to “make it” and move up in life. Example: I know somebody who owns a small market, and will NOT let any of his employees go to college (if they do, they lose their jobs). It’s not the only case.

    Sometimes, I actually like cleaning b/c it’s something I can do and see immediate results – unlike those long hours of waiting in Brazilian bureaucratic offices 😉 unfortunately, when you have to do it regularly the endorphin rush kinda disappears, though.

  2. I totally hear you on the endorphin rush. I LIKE to clean…as Brasilicana said there’s a good feeling in doing something and seeing results.

  3. Jana says:

    Ah me too, love me some cleaning. It’s a mental release for me and after being in brazil for a bit it feels a bit “stickin it to the system” which is always fun. Great post!

  4. Danielle says:

    I just spent the holidays at my in-laws’ house. Don’t get me started.

    • Anna says:

      her MIL went to medical school and does charity but she is bad because she employs someone to work at her home and doesn’t clean her own floor?? thats unbelievable!
      That sounds a lot like a glass half-empty kinda girl!

  5. Anna says:

    Lula came from a poor family and was a horrible president. Bush came from a rich family and was also an awful president.
    Most poor brazilians I know are very hardworking but receive little or none incentive to study unfortunately.

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