Two things that really shock a Brazilian in the USA

Perceptions from usual (but not so much) things

Since 2009 I have been coming to the USA for many different reasons. It all started when I decided to go to this different country to buy some stuff to sell in Brazil to pay a debt that I had (this story is in my schedule to be shared).

Different world for me, in many ways. As everybody else that travels to anywhere else in the world, I could not avoid making comparisons between the countries. I mean it not in a sense of which one is better in what, but pure and raw comparison, if that is possible. I don’t think it is.

I could talk about things like income, taxes, etc, but this will be more on a simple way, on daily life things. Those that we all deal with, but not always think about. I don’t cease to get shocked in many occasions. Here they are.

#1 Paper Quality

From napkins, printing and toilet, paper in the USA is something that I think all the time. I mean every time I touch it! It is not possible as a Brazilian to not think about that. Reasons are too many. If you are Brazilian I am 100% sure you can relate to me. If you are American, you may think me and my buddies are crazy. Let me explain.

We are not used to it, ok? We are just NOT! When a I go to a fast food restaurant and grab those brown napkins I feel guilty. I do. It is not usual for us to have such a thick paper on a fast food restaurant. Thick napkin is for rich people. Period. Why? Because it is very expensive there.

Usually, if you go to have cheap food in Brazil, that means a thin almost transparent-Bible-page-like napkin.

If you are in Brazil for some reason, go eat what we call pastel frito (some sort of a fried empanada). Have you seen a Brazilian group hanging out in the USA at a restaurant? When you see us, watch it. You will see us getting just enough napkins. You will see us folding the napkin three or four times to use all available surfaces left. And if, for some reason, we miscalculated the number of napkins and took more then we should, we will walk gloriously back and return those extra ones.

What about those printing paper that you buy in bulks for a couple of dollars? WOW! Some of those papers are so thick you could use them as a foundation slab for your house! Come on! That thick printing paper you only get on 50th Marriage Anniversary, Harvard PhD Diploma, or something on similar category. But, no. It is just for any reason printing. Every time I see that coming out of the printer I just feel part of my body is being cut off. I go get it and it feels like a magazine in my hands, but it is just a butterfly or a unicorn for my girls to draw OVER IT!!!! We better move on.

#2 Plastic

In 2009 I was in Seattle. Some new friends invited me to a barbecue. Barbecues are worth another article. Anyway, I went to a house near a lake, summer time. If you have been in Seattle by this time of the year you know how beautiful it is.

Everything was fine and I was about to have my first barbecue in the North Hemisphere. Then I saw it. Went to grab mine and put some coke on (I still drank it by that time). This is what I saw.

The Party Red Plastic Cup

Party was almost over and I saw something bizarre to me that day. People were throwing out the couple’s cups! Honestly, I could not figure that the red cup was made to be used ONCE. That melted my brain. I could not stop looking to the one I was holding. I started compressing it, squeezing it… the plastic was so strong that I really believed that was a regular cup to be washed and put back to cabinets. Don’t judge me.

If you are from Brazil and think I am exaggerating, don’t you remember those 200 ml plastic cups we use to drink water on public places so thin that we needed to hold the bottom afraid it would tear?

If you are from the US, you have no idea how we feel when we get a juice bottle with a plastic so thick that you could use four of them to lift a small car and get the oil changed. And the spoons? One of my wife’s uncles would never buy any spoons in his life again. In Brazil you can see him collecting them on parties to wash and reuse. I know, this is weird and usually we don’t do that.

At least, not that I am aware of!


And you? Do you think of something else? Tell me about it!