Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Motoboy mishaps

So the other day I'm walking home from my local grocery store, the Pão de Açúcar, minding my own business, lugging my Pão totebag full of mangoes, canned soup and who-knows-what-else, when I see a motorcycle delivery boy pull up onto the sidewalk about 10 feet in front of me. No big deal, this happens all the time.

One of the great things about traffic rules in São Paulo is that there are no rules! Got a motorcycle and don't want to park it? No prob, just ride it onto the pedestrian sidewalk! Unhappy with your position in the outer lane? That's cool, just slide on over a lane or two without signalling, the other cars will move. Don't feel like stopping for that red light? It's not even mandatory! (Seriously -- red lights are not mandatory in São Paulo because of car-jacking concerns, which is a whole 'nother kettle of fish).

Anyway, this motorcyclist is sort of idling on the sidewalk, having a chat with some guy, whatever, and I walk up and am trying to decide whether to step into the street, or try to get around him on the sidewalk, or just wait for him to leave, when he looks at me, and I notice that the man is completely cross-eyed. Not the kind of slight cross-eyed-ness where it's like, you're not sure what eye to look at when the person is talking, but like, full-on, visual problems cross-eyed. So he starts weaving and starting, like he's trying to decide how to get around me, and I am desperately trying to make eye-contact to establish which one of us is going to stay on the sidewalk. Picture this if you will -- a (cross-eyed) man bobbing and weaving on a giant motorcycle in the middle of a narrow sidewalk, and a girl with a bag full o'mangoes bobbing and weaving back, with no eye contact to be had.

Finally, through some miracle of non-communication, he went one way -- riding his enormous motorcycle on down the sidewalk -- and I went the other. And here is my point: only in Brazil would a man with serious visual impairment be hired as a motorcycle delivery boy. No, let me amend that -- only in São Paulo would a seriously visually impaired person be hired as a motorcycle delivery boy, and only in São Paulo would no one blink an eyeball at the fact that he is driving on the sidewalk.

Well, at least he was wearing a helmet.

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