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Vacation Journal: Entry #8

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on August 10, 2012

In the past few years Portugal has made significant advancements in both technology and nudity in television commercials. (The commercials, even when fully clothed, always fall into one of four categories—cell phone, beer, supermarket chain, and what is either an ad for an anti-depressant or a laxative, depending on how you wish to interpret the actress’s glee upon greeting the morning.) But after three full weeks here I’m beginning to see that the country is still very Old World when it comes to titles. I don’t mean those said to show respect to elders but rather honorifics specifically regarding profession or education. Only thing is, these very titles are handed out with the frequency and discrimination of flyers announcing tarot card readings and lunch specials. If someone can dislodge their index finger from their nostril they’re an “engineer.” If they can do so after inserting their finger to the second knuckle, they’re a “doctor.” Case in point: I was with a family friend when a gentleman passed by. The friend then gestured to the man and said, “That man is a very well respected doctor.” So I asked what his field of medicine was, expecting to hear a reference to a particular pathology or at the very least a gland. His response—“Bicycles.”

And speaking of addressing people, this was the actual greeting on a Portuguese ATM screen before it asked for the PIN code: “Death by drowning is quick and silent.”

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3 Responses

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  1. Gil said, on August 10, 2012 at 9:56 am

    I wonder what the social convention is? oh no I have no money, let me just drown myself. … or should I aspire to a more lingering noisy death? Maybe the doctor of bicycles could help.

  2. tommasz said, on August 10, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Good advice, although it’s unclear if they’re helping you prevent drowning or choose it. In any case, ATMs should stick to what they do best, stealing your PIN and sending it to Russian hackers.

  3. Pat said, on August 13, 2012 at 10:36 am

    We have GOT to gets ATMs like that over here.


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