(Not So) Quick Stories from Book 09.
The following stories are bound to be rather longer compared to the previous ones, but I look forward to having you as amazed as I believe you were after reading all the others.
LESSON 03: Enough of Liberalism.
For this subject, I would like to pick out some of the topics that I was most interested in, such as quality, price and reputation and the lack of consumer information and/or awareness about the quality of products.
Firstly, I agree with the affirmation that says “though information is widespread, only few of us get to reach out to it”. I feel that can be applied to the great majority of consuming people who lack awareness when it comes down to claiming their rights.
For example, Smart Fit, the huge Brazilian gym company, with lots of branches on every corner and whose owner has openly stated being a Bolsonaro’s supporter, tried to keep its customers away from cancelling their memberships at the very beginning of the pandemic. On the contract, it is explained that the customer can only cancel their membership if they do it in person at one of SF’s branches. However, the government forbade SF to keep its doors open, and the fitness center was forced to interrupt its activities.
Just as disgusting as it may seem, the owner found it would be a great idea to keep charging the gym’s clients regardless of them not consuming the company’s services. Unfortunately, most of SF’s students were not aware of the fact that that is against consumers rights and ended up letting it pass by.
Thankfully, a lawyer on Twitter — whose name I can’t recall — , let it be known that she was ready to take any legal case against Smart Fit, all of which would be, in her words, won.
You might think it only happened because the company’s owner is Brazilian, and Brazilians are used to trying to make the most out of any situation. Nonetheless, Apple has been charged for being just as deceitful.
It drove me nuts when I found out Apple was doing exactly as some experts had predicted — the giant from Cupertino supposed it would be all fine to start selling iPhones with no chargers inside the box. Paying for an iPhone with their essential accessories, such as the charger and the earphones, is fairly nonsensical already, let alone paying for them separately!
Hopefully, Apple has been charged several times already for this attack on customers rights, and a client in special managed to make R$10,000.00 out of a court case — which led me to think that it was a masterful move on her part to end up with an iPhone and R$10K inside her pockets. I would not have been smarter…
Those companies’ actions got me thinking how much power they actually have upon us customers if they can do all of that and then get away with it in most cases. I have to admit the author has got a point when they say “reputation has become of primary importance to the buying public”. However, we must also concede that those companies managed to, in no time, trade reputation for a huge amount of profit.
Whether due to an increasing struggle to uphold obscene levels of natural resources exploitation and modern dynamics of slavery or just because their owners feel like accumulating money, companies have gotten used to being preposterous on whatever they present to the customers. They overcharge their products and/or services and give us too little in exchange. This needs to stop!
All of those companies, as well as liberal governments, should be taken over as soon as possible. Otherwise, there will not be a planet for the rest of us to live on. Only through communism can we get rid of them. May it be the answer!
– Tria. July 22nd, 2021.
LESSON 05: Numerous Family Structures.
In all honesty, I would much rather say that I am quite familiar with all of the given family structures. Given the fact that I am a Brazilian gay boy, it looks to me as though had I not been part of the LGBTQIA+ community, I would have never been able to acknowledge that.
One of the most touching moments of RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise, an American TV show I am a huge fan of, was when Roxxxy Andrews, one of the front-runners of the fifth season of the show, burst into tears after being placed on the bottom against a fan-favorite contestant (she was considered one of the worst out of the competitors on the given weekly challenge).
Whether because she knew she would be sent home if she did not do that or because she legitimately felt sad at the moment, she had RuPaul in tears after saying she had been left at a bus stop when she was three years old. Apparently heartbroken, RuPaul replied saying that we, as gay people, get to choose our family.
I speak for myself when I say that was one of the most memorable moments of the show. That taught me I do not have to stick to consanguineous ties to consider one part of my family as “society-wise” defends. Being an effeminate gay guy myself, I have faced enough homophobia in my household to keep considering my relatives my family. I have had enough of their crap.
Notwithstanding, I appreciate the fact that they were the ones who introduced me to a cross-generational family, as I used to live in the same house as my grandmother, my uncle, my mother, my sisters and my elder niece did.
There are other family structures they helped me get in touch with. For example, my sister, who had always been straight prior to that relationship (and who I had sharing secrets of my sexual preferences back in the day), used to live with her now former girlfriend. For some time, they raised a child, making them foster parents. In the end, though, they broke up, and it ended up not working out.
When it comes down to giving you an example of adoptive parents, who are also same-sex parents, the saddest yet the most beautiful example I can think of is the couple Thales Bretas and Paulo Gustavo. May the latter rest in peace!
Still regarding the opinion that LGBTQIA+ people get to choose their family, I bring up “Casa Nem” as an example. Having the trans politician Indianarae Siqueira as their matriarch, Casa Nem helps LGBTQIA+ people (mainly trans people, who are more easily marginalized) to stay away from the streets after they have been thrown out of their homes by their “original”, consanguineous families.
In addition to all of that, being born as a poor child in Brazil, I was made aware of some other types of families, such as single-parent ones.
It would strike me as odd if you said you do not agree that it comes as no surprise when I say nearly every mother nowadays builds up a single-parent-structured family, especially as it is widely known that men, specially straight men, do not do much in terms of raising a child. As nasty as it may seem, they disappear in the blink of an eye as soon as they have their girlfriends share they got pregnant and start acting up in an effort to get us to think the baby was delivered by storks.
Moreover, despite my sister’s attempts to build up a traditional nuclear family with her current boyfriend, she is keeping up with creating a never-married family instead (or even a single-parent family, as her daughter’s father does not really make much of an effort in terms of raising their child).
As I see it, modern times require modern forms of organization, be it inside our own homes or not. We have got to accept whatever people want to do with their lives regarding this subject so as not to be like those ultraconservative pigs from the medieval era who would think it is nonsensical to, maybe, not have a family whatsoever.
– Tria. July 26th, 2021.
LESSON 06: A Displeased Customer.
Dear Mrs. Clearwater,
I am writing to you in an attempt to be finally heard. I have been trying to contact your phony husband and you for quite some time up now with virtually no replies. Due to this fact, I cannot help but express how very fed up I am with your customers’ service.
The good-for-nothing Apple Watch my boyfriend bought from you last week just broke down. Little did he know there was no chance something that expensive would be sold for the such low price you guys practiced on your Facebook post.
I know that there might not be much I can do past asking for a refund (imagine asking for an exchange and getting a fork instead?), so I expect you to be fairer this time around, otherwise one’s mother and father might just have to visit their children in jail (a fact which I have no intention of happening to my parents).
I look forward to hearing sincere apologies from both of you, as you were the ones who convinced my boyfriend to buy that junk. You might be all used to taking people for granted and playing them for fools; however, if something nasty happens to my money, I will make sure your names are on everyone’s mouth (may this be my last warning).
– Tria. August 15th, 2021.
LESSON 09: Are women in your country ready to live without maids?
When this question first caught my eye, I was tempted to start criticizing how delusional making this kind of question is. However, right after reflecting on what was being asked, I sort of realized that a much deeper debate can be made upon it.
The reason I initially got shocked was because I did truly believe the people who would be making this question did not really seem to live in the same reality I do. Women around me can barely make sure they are able to feed their children and buy them proper medication and clothes, let alone have someone take care of them during the day.
Women around me — and now I am going to give you my mother as an example — cannot afford hiring maids for so. If they do, there will be no money left for them to put bread on the table. Poor women’s maids are these women’s mothers, aunts, neighbors and whoever is most concerned about them and actually care about how hard they work to make sure no one at home basically dies from hunger.
So, I must say it is sort of unbearable for me to conceive that there are women who have the privilege of transferring the responsibility of raising their children to a maid. Not that it is something they would do if they had the chance to go to work/college and still look after their son/daughter, but, living in Brazil as I see it today, it looks to me as though it is impossible to begin with.
On the other hand, I must concede, for those who surely can get maids to raise their children, that it might be the best choice for them. There are so many cases of rape happening on a daily basis (and most of them, I reckon, are caused by the very ones who were supposed to protect the infants in the first place) that it is logical for them to do whatever they can to keep their babies away from people like those.
To sum it up, I believe the time when the great majority of women got ready to live without maids has gone long ago. Times are tough, you know? It is not something most of them can afford anymore. For those who are still able to do so, may capitalism still work in their favour.
– Tria. September 6th, 2021.
LESSON 11: Have you ever witnessed an act of prejudice? How did you react?
I do not want to come up here and give the reader a lecture on what it is like to be a gay man in a country like Brazil in this time and age. However, I find it important to mention it because it will sort of justify how acquaintanced I am to sexual orientation prejudice.
I may have witnessed all kinds of prejudice featured in the book and maybe some more, but the most emblematic in my life is the sexual orientation one. I recall being targeted by homophobic people since the moment I started showing some effeminate traits of mine at a very young age.
At home, my elder sister would always call out the gayness of whatever I would do, and I can say for a fact that up to this day I keep a lot of trauma inside myself that may or may not go away after a lot of work with a psychologist.
Then, in elementary school, I would have to deal with bullies trying to turn me straight. In spite of not really thinking much about those years, I can only imagine how disturbing it must have been for me back in the day, and God knows how much of an introvert I am among straight men due to an unceasing feeling that those things might once again start happening.
In high school, I dealt with a couple of homophobic straight men that would not let me live my gay life in peace. There was even a time I feared I would get punched in the face. What crazy times were those! On the other hand, I praise the friends I have made during the time I was there. If it had not been for them, I would not have been able to come out as a gay man. In spite of not liking the concept of a “best friend”, Drew, probably my best friend (who is also gay, but fearlessly fought all the jerks who tried to be prejudicial against him), entered my life at that given time. Everything changed since I met him, and I believe nothing would have happened had I not become friends with him back in the day.
Later in my life, such as when I joined college, the trade school for chemistry and the first company I worked at, I would face a couple of prejudicial people here and there, but my mindset, unlike earlier in my life, had changed and turned me into a whole monster — I was NOT going to hold back from any kind of prejudicial act like I was used to! Up to this day, I am unable to properly get into a physical fight, but I am sure as hell I will do whatever I can in order to make sure I am being respected as a human being.
Regarding other kinds of prejudice, I would be lying if I said I have not seen them happening around me. It is unbelievable how racism is common in this country even though the punishment for racists is going to jail. I have myself been involved in an racist act against a colleague at the trade school for chemistry (IFRJ) I used to study at. Long story short, I was sort of making fun of her ethnicity by saying if our professor wanted to make us flunk the test, my friend would have to just sit there and call it racism. It is definitely a way of belittling racism, and I thank God she read me for filth right at the moment it happened. Rarely had I learned a lesson that quickly. That is now my go-to for those who, up to this day, insist on being racist pieces of crap.
– Tria. September 6th, 2021.
LESSON 12: Technology 4 The Best!
Strange as it may sound, in spite of being a poor child, I have been acquainted with technology (mostly computers and cell phones) since a very young age. Golden days were the ones when people like me would use a computer for a couple of hours after paying, like, R$4.00 (four reais).
It strikes me as odd that I may have been born with some sort of ability to use those devices — maybe Uranus in Aquarius and in the Fourth House of my Natal Chart (who knows?). I have never been tech-savvy, but I have always been able to quickly manage to use all kinds of devices. I do consider myself smart for having been able to do so back in the day with no instructions. It goes without saying that having this ability — even though my inferiority complex would get in the way — allowed me to get opportunities I would not have even imagined if I had not been so used to trying out gadgets like a computer, for example.
Up to this day, I am not quite sure about how capable I am in terms of mastering the use of those gadgets. I just basically use them as I need and hope for the best.
Needless to say, I am keen on Apple’s devices. I am not sure I need an Apple Watch, but since I started training for my running exam to join the Brazilian Navy, I made up my mind to buy one, as I felt no other similar gadget would be able to check my heartbeats the way it does.
I also get a kick out of MacBooks, and my bank account is now bleeding profusely after I decided to buy myself one. Needless to say, it was an illogical move on my part, but nevertheless, I feel like I have stepped up my game and got rid of some demons of my past that could only be destroyed if I did buy this device. Now, I am living la dolce vita in spite of having a huge debt with the bank.
For the future, I truly do expect technology to get us through horrible diseases like cancer, but also, as long as it remains in the hands of only few powerful people (such as Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk), it will cause the end of the world as it is known today (they know we are running out of time down here and are doing whatever they can to make Mars habitable again). In this case, technology will not save us unless we take it all over. May the fittest survive!
– Tria. September 6th, 2021.
LESSON 13: How does the question of food affect you? What are your feelings on healthy food versus prepared food? What about the widespread use of chemicals in the foods we eat?
There are so many subtopics I would bring up to you that this composition would be endless.
When it comes to my juxtaposing healthy and prepared food, I must open up about the disturbing eating habits of mine. I am hooked on eating those greasy ass hamburgers from McDonald’s with salty French fries and a huge amount of Coke (this time around, I am talking about the soda pop). I know that eating all this junk food, which is all filled with too much chemicals, is not healthy, but it is the best I can do to keep myself away from my own problems.
I am not saying I do this all the time or that I have some sort of mental disease that affects me to the point that I cannot live without this kind of food. However, I got used to eating these nutritionally poor meals. To clear it up, I am not saying this is ok and one should not take care of their health — that is not and never will be what I stand by. I am simply saying I kind of understand what the temptations of those who seek comfort food are.
Not knowing how to fix myself a meal also plays an important role on whether I will eat healthy food or not.
When it comes down to talking about chemicals in the food we eat, if I may have a say in the matter, I would say that I feel like there is not much one can do past getting rid of capitalism first. The Welsh-Greek singer MARINA, previously known as Marina and the Diamonds, sings eloquently about this topic. On her song “New America”, she expresses dissatisfaction towards the way capitalism made us poor and “fucked with the food chain (…) [and] the farming too”.
It is all about it! I do not think humans are paying attention to who the ultimate enemy is. We keep on eating pure junk, getting cancer from meat and chicken, destroying the environment (since farming demands a huge amount of fertile land to remain profitable) and wasting too much water. If we are not ready to get rid of the current productive system, then there is no way we can consider eating healthily again.
– Tria. September 6th, 2021.