Written by Eddie Capstick
They are linked in a very subtle way! In a way that will help you get on with taxi drivers in Brazil that you might never have known if it wasn’t explained.
Normally taxi drivers in Rio de Janeiro are a pretty chilled out bunch. They can drive around without getting too stressed even when others are driving madly, they most often don’t ask for extra tips and they give change when they can (but please try and be able to say the name of where you want to go correctly – getting it wrong annoys any taxi driver..!!**^**!!.).
Toasters? Well they normally just get sliced bread put inside, turned on, and then pop up right? Job done.
Well now, here’s the thing. Brazilian taxi drivers hate one thing above all else: when you ‘slam’ their doors shut. Think about it now. Your last journey in a black cab in London, a yellow cab in New York, a Mercedes in Berlin, and even an old Ford in Mumbai. What’s the thing that signals the end of your ride? You get out, and you don’t just close the door like you would on your car do you? No, you ‘slam’ it. That satisfying clunk, that you think tells the taxi driver, how smart you are that you’ve closed the door, and that sound signals the door is closed, and the deal is pretty much done.
Out here in Brazil, that makes them very angry. Don’t do it.
“Please don’t slam my door”, one taxi driver told me yesterday – the only phrase he said during my entire 25 minute trip – and his accent was very good – a sign he’s practised this line many times.
However, I knew of this already, and I gave him the thumbs up sign, with a nod and a knowing smile, and a ‘Of course, I understand’. I knew this because it had been explained to me over breakfast one morning at the residence where I’m staying. We had nicknamed this particular toaster ‘the toast elevator’ because unlike ‘usual’ toasters it was just a button press to start the toaster going rather than the usual ‘side’ push bar. We loved it, but thought it a bit odd that such a toaster was bought for a communal breakfast room. The owner, a charming vibrant and warm-hearted Brazilian lady explained it to us the next day:
“You see over the years, I’ve had to buy many, many toasters. The guests that stay here, often Europeans, come here and slam the toaster down – it’s what they’re used to. With so many guests, they break [toasters [and Europeans]] so very often. So I invested in this machine, as it’s just a gentle push button, and therefore noone need slam anything. Taxi drivers here too, hate it when you slam their door shut. Just a gentle push, or they get very annoyed”.
Of course, I replied, “Really?” but with more explanation, and discussing it with people there, German’s, Indian’s, fellow Londoners, South Africans, Australians etc, we all agreed: we do SLAM taxi doors.
Stop slamming things people – things break – it’s not a sustainable action especially if the thing you’re slamming isn’t yours. Be respectful of the gentle nudge, and you’ll earn, maybe not a smile, but at least not annoy cab drivers and hotel/hostel owners. You might get a smile by saying ‘Obrigado’ (thank you in Portuguese), or maybe even a ‘Lagauuul’ (Cool – spelt ‘Legal’).
Be ‘legal’. Obrigado.
(I was out in Brazil running the first 2 week programme for Social Starters (during the 6 week programme). We bring volunteers from around the world to many locations, help them understand more about social enterprise, give them tools to help social entrepreneurs and then they work directly with social entrepreneurs in locations. Overall we had 20 volunteers in Rio, working with 20 clients and 10 local coordinators (also helping with translation), with strong partnerships including: Eixo Rio, Oi! Kabum, and MakeSense.org).
#JoinUs on a programme and volunteer with grassroots social entrepreneurs.
India – 24th October (6 weeks) || Brazil – 31st October (6 weeks) || India – 31st January (6 weeks) || Sri Lanka – 13th February (6 Weeks) || Brazil – 19th March (6 weeks) . To apply, send your email with a cover note to firstname.lastname@example.org and clearly state in the subject heading which programme and what date you are applying for. If successful, you will invited to a Skype interview with one of the team!