Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Preferential Treatment

A new cultural experience I'm about to embark on is the 'Pregnant Lady in Brazil' experience.  In Canada, pregnant women exist (obviously) but, in my experience, they aren't fawned over nor do the seas part when a pregnant lady walks into a room.  Pregnant women, in turn, do not expect such treatment (at least I don't think they do).

In Brazil, pregnant women are like Goddesses, carrying the Miracle of Life in their pouches.  The Law even bows to pregnant women, as it's actually the LAW that Preggos can move straight to the front of any line (name a line - the bank? Yes. A crowded 5-star restaurant? Yes. A food bank? You can count on it.)  They get the preferential seats on the bus and they also get to line up in the preferential lines at the grocery store (and probably move to the front of that line even! They can trump any line!)

The reason I've been thinking about this lately is because I just don't have this natural instinct in me, to finally take advantage of this special treatment.  I recently spent the weekend with a good friend who happens to be 7 months pregnant.  She fully pulled out her pregnancy card everywhere we went (btw, if you are with said pregnant woman, you ALSO get to butt the line!)  She even pulled out the "it's the law!" card.  She told me that since the beginning, she has carried her ultrasound photo around with her taking advantage of her right wherever she goes!

I find this shocking simply because I admire her guts!  I guess I've been a little conditioned to believe that pregnancy isn't an illness, and therefore shouldn't award you special treatment.  I had to come to terms with this change in perception after moving here but I can honestly say that I love this law.  I love the way Brazilian culture looks out for its citizens who are a little less-than-able (that goes for seniors as well as pregnant women).  For a culture that I perceive to be so "everyone for him or herself", Brazilians have really pulled together to respect this courtesy and make sure others respect it too.

It makes me a little sad to know that I won't be staying here to fully experience this huge gesture of kindness (we are moving back to Canada to have our baby -  more on that in another blog).  In fact, it was slightly distressing to me to speak to a Canadian friend who told me that she parks in the 'Expectant Mothers' reserved parking spots because "pregnancy isn't an illness."  News flash.  Neither is old age.  Should we take away their spots too?

I'm not taking one opinion and turning it into the opinion of an entire country - I trust my loveable Canadians that they wouldn't do that!  But I'm curious to know if other expats were surprised/annoyed/un-phased by this pretty strict law??  I did find it a little shocking since it's about the ONLY law that all Brazilians really abide by.... I mean, we all know that nobody respects traffic laws!  Similarly, have any Brazilians had any interesting experiences being pregnant outside of Brazil? 



  1. Congratulations! I'll admit I have used on of the spots at Toys r' us just because they have tons of them and they are never full and take up the whole entire front of their parking lot.

    That's exciting that you are going home. My husband said if I was pregnant I would be on the first plane back the the USA. That's only because I still have insurance there until I turn 26 next year and Public hospitals scare me a bit.

  2. personally, i think this law only has oomph here (and particularly in the big cities!) because the lines at the bank, grocery etc are extremely large and inefficient. in a lot of places in US/Canada we dont need such lines because honestly, i have never waited in a seat with a "pull a number card" at any bank in the US!! the only place where waiting really occurs on a scale like here is the department of licensing! and sadly not everyone respects these rules. i had a convo with a student the other day who told me she yelled at a grocery check out girl at a PdA in SP for letting a bunch of young guys through the special line with a ton of beer :| anyway, i think if i was pregnant i would take the special line if i was feeling tired or sick, but not just for the hell of it. and ps. from your last post if someone who i didnt know touched my stomach i would slap them!! and tell your friend he can get a ticket for parking in that spot when she shouldn't!

    1. I think you make a totally valid point about the size of lines 'here' vs 'there'.
      The worst thing I found is that I felt most tired and sick in the first 3 months, but then you're not even showing and you feel like you have to prove yourself! I didn't feel too comfortable with that...
      The belly rubs though... haha, that's another story!

  3. My favorite thing used to be going to the movies when I was pregnant. We would arrive last minute, cut in line for tickets, and then get let into the theater first thus getting the best seats. It was awesome. Btw, the bank preferential line blooooowwws. ;)

  4. Oh girl I ate it up! You name it - grocery store, movie theater, bank, bathroom...everywhere! I even met the Pulitzer Price author Alice Walker and cut that line to get her autograph (that was 4 days before my son was born).
    I loved the special treatment. And people were always nice...except at the Policia Federal where at 8 months pregnant I was asked for proof. WTF?

  5. pregnant women have to be treated special, they need extra care.

    Benefits of Glutathione | Brazilian Waxing Videos

  6. Congratulations!! Yes, take advantage! Just wait until you travel home pregnant or with a little one. When my daughter was little and we traveled to Brazil, some random gentleman would appear out of nowhere and lead us to the front of the line at the airport in Brazil. It rocks!

  7. HMM Surprised an enterprising Brazilian hasn't started renting the services of his pregnant wife at the Caixa Loterias..

  8. Mallory,

    American Bsnks are not faster or efficient for that matter. They are slow as hell, and got stuck somewhere in the 1970's. I am not familiar with Canadian Banks, but my guess would be similar to US banks.
    Brazilian banks are light years ahead, more sophisticated, and way more efficient. The problem with big lines in Brazilian banks is because they offer a lot of different services.
    People in the US mail their utility bills or car paynments or pay their bills at convenience stores, Western Union or Check Cashers. In Brazil, a lot of people pay all their bills at the banks. You book a small "Pousada" on the beach for the weekend, they ask you to make the deposit at the Bank, so forth and so on, hence the long lines at Brazilian banks.
    But when one becomes a Brazil expert, they never stay at lines again. You have to find a friend or relative who has a "Motoboy", also called "OfficeBoy" at their work, every company has one or several. They will pay your bills and do all your banking for you. You will never see a bank line at a Brazilian bank again. ;)


    1. I completely agree with you!! This is so true.

  9. Hi! First of all, congratulations! Second, I am actually a little saddened to hear that you are leaving Brazil. I am moving to Brazil with my girlfriend towards the end of this year. I look forward to reading more of your insight about the "real Brasil" :)

  10. Good morning how are you?
    My name is Emilio, I am a Spanish boy and I live in a town near to Madrid. I am a very interested person in knowing things so different as the culture, the way of life of the inhabitants of our planet, the fauna, the flora, and the landscapes of all the countries of the world etc. in summary, I am a person that enjoys traveling, learning and respecting people's diversity from all over the world.
    I would love to travel and meet in person all the aspects above mentioned, but unfortunately as this is very expensive and my purchasing power is quite small, so I devised a way to travel with the imagination in every corner of our planet. A few years ago I started a collection of used stamps because trough them, you can see pictures about fauna, flora, monuments, landscapes etc. from all the countries. As every day is more and more difficult to get stamps, some years ago I started a new collection in order to get traditional letters addressed to me in which my goal was to get at least 1 letter from each country in the world. This modest goal is feasible to reach in the most part of countries, but unfortunately it’s impossible to achieve in other various territories for several reasons, either because they are countries at war, either because they are countries with extreme poverty or because for whatever reason the postal system is not functioning properly.
    For all this I would ask you one small favour:
    Would you be so kind as to send me a letter by traditional mail from Brazil? I understand perfectly that you think that your blog is not the appropriate place to ask this, and even, is very probably that you ignore my letter, but I would call your attention to the difficulty involved in getting a letter from that country, and also I don’t know anyone neither where to write in Brazil in order to increase my collection. a letter for me is like a little souvenir, like if I have had visited that territory with my imagination and at same time, the arrival of the letters from a country is a sign of peace and normality and an original way to promote a country in the world. My postal address is the following one:

    Emilio Fernandez Esteban
    Avenida Juan de la Cierva, 44
    28902 Getafe (Madrid)

    If you wish, you can visit my blog where you can see the pictures of all the letters that I have received from whole World.
    Finally I would like to thank the attention given to this letter, and whether you can help me or not, I send my best wishes for peace, health and happiness for you, your family and all your dear beings.

    Yours Sincerely

    Emilio Fernandez

  11. such a great article, i love nothing better than going on holiday on my own! i never have to worry about anyone else or doing something i am not too bothered about! have you tried holidays for single people


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