Sem Sistema

In Brazil, the law states that if you have lived here for over 6 months and you drive a car, you are required to get a Brazilian driver’s license.  We bought a car a few months ago and since we’ve already gotten our first speeding ticket (oops!), Michael figured he’d better go ahead and get his license here too.

He got all of the paper work processed, so a couple of weeks ago Michael had his secretary call the “DMV” office to see if he needed an appointment to go in.  She called and their response was, “Nope – no appointment needed.  He can just show up and come on in!”  Great!  So, he drove an hour to the office, showed up, and went in.  When he got inside and asked about taking the test, the woman told him that she was sorry but they were “sem sistema” — their operating system wasn’t working.  He asked how long they had been sem sistema and she said that it had been off all day.  Michael told her that his secretary had just called an hour ago and the woman replied, “Oh yeah, I spoke to her.  She just asked if you needed an appointment.  She didn’t ask if our system was functioning.”  

Seriously?  Yes.  And this is so TYPICAL here!  It must be some breakdown in the education system that doesn’t encourage outside-the-box thinking or even just logical, rational common sense.  It is very common to find people here – from waiters to lawyers – who seem like they are only capable of responding to the EXACT question you ask, but not thinking one second outside or beyond that to other things that you might want to know.

Anyway, the story doesn’t end there.  The office remained sem sistema all week, so last week, after confirming that everything was indeed up and running, Michael went back to take the test.  Now, there is a driving portion required for new drivers, but since Michael had a license in the US, all he needed to do was take the psychiatric test which is required of everyone getting a license.  This test included things such as matching shapes on a page and drawing small vertical lines to fill an entire piece of paper, interrupted only when the worker would call out “dash” for a small horizontal line.  Yes.  Seriously.  Apparently it’s supposed to check if you’re crazy…?  Thankfully Michael has lots of patience and is great at drawing small little lines, because now he has an official Brazilian driver’s license!  I think I’ll hold off on getting mine for a while…

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