For Gringos to write about certain words in the Brazilian vocabulary has become somewhat cliché. “Saudade” is probably the most recurringly discussed word, a term combining the idea of nostalgia and a fond recollection. A Brazilian might say s/he has “saudade” for his family when s/he is away from home. Perhaps the second most spoken about word is “jeitinho,” loosely translated as “a way” and usually used in the sense of “a way of making it work.” Very often it means, “using informal means to circumvent officially established protocol.” In this sense, jeitinho is frequently used as a euphemism for corruption, and Rio de Janeiro is often thought of as Rio de Jetinho by other Brazilians. My wife experienced a telling confrontation with a particularly insidious type of jetinho the other day. She went into a photocopy shop to pay for a few business copies.
“How much do you want me to put,” asked the girl at the cash.
“What do you mean?” replied Carolina, half knowing, half perplexed.
“What is the total you want me to put?”
“Well, it cost 6 Reais. Why?” Carol asked
“Because, some clients want me to give the bill a little jetinho.”
My ethical warrior, Carol, was revolted by the incident. For people to be collecting more money in reimbursements than they are owed is telling, especially for something as standardized and menial as a photocopy. One jeitinho, zero direitinho.