things you take for granted without realizing it, pt 1

This post has been a long time coming. Having lived nearly 5 years in São Paulo, Brazil, I’ve become accustomed to many things that Americans would find unthinkable. I mean that literally. Things happen here that would NEVER happen in the States, your average American simply would not be capable of dreaming up such a ludicrous solution to a problem. For example,  last week this video of a construction worker placing a back hoe into a visibly inadequate transport truck sans ramp was circulating around our local internets. The guy definitely has skills (and is an expert in the gambiarra) but I imagine that, were he American, he would quickly lose his job for such a stunt. [youtube width=”300″ height=”275″][/youtube]

And so begins my first installment of Things You Take for Granted Without Realizing it.

  1. Fitted Sheets: No, I have never seen a fitted sheet here in Brazil. Not to say that they don’t exist. I’m sure that those of the elite who enjoy swimming in luxury have access to this wonderful invention. Lowly middle-class-me, however, struggles with keeping the bottom sheet tucked just right so that it doesn’t come loose in the middle of the night, leaving me or my husband glued to a not so inviting 10+ year old mattress. Yech.
  2. Quality Running Shoes:
    Asics Running Shoes: On Sale!

    Asics Running Shoes: On Sale!

    If all you care about is the appearance of brand, then this isn’t going to be a problem for you. Cheap knockoffs can be found at street vendors, malls and online. But if you actually want a good pair of running shoes that won’t be a stinky, soggy, useless mess in six months, then be prepared to make an investment. A quick search on the internet returned a nice graphic of some Asics shoes, the GT 2150 model. According to the, the suggested retail price of these shoes is $100. At today’s exchange rate of 1.64, that puts these same shoes at about US$242, not counting the fee for international transactions. Same shoes, radically different price. And São Paulo is considered the shopping capital of Brazil!

  3. Getting What You Pay For: This is NOT the same thing as “you get what you pay for”. Rather, here in Brazil, there is a 1-in-3 chance that what you buy will: not work, break within a short time, have a broken piece, have an unanticipated design flaw, not have the attributes that you were told it would have, etc, etc. This means that every time you buy something new, you face the threat that you’ve also purchased a new problem. Even better, you can almost NEVER get your money back. Instead, you receive an in-store credit so that you can buy another crappy product. Of course, if you count yourself as part of the elite, you can avoid this problem entirely by doing your shopping in New York.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this first glimpse of Things You Take for Granted and that it helps you to appreciate some of the advantages of Northern Hemisphere living that the rest of the world can’t even imagine. I’d love to hear other people’s insights on this!

1 Comment

  1. J.Gaver on March 14, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    good read. my girlfried actually spent a year in Brazil on an exchange program and we’ve had similar conversations. I think our comfortability here in the states easily allows us to take things for granted and not have to find creative ways to make things work. Sometimes we just need to stick our head out of insular bubbles of self and “identity” to get some perspective of everything outside our sometimes limited views.

    Thanks for the read! 🙂