Monday, January 27, 2014

If we couldn't laugh we just would go insane - São Paulo

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There's a Jimmy Buffet song that goes "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, nothing remains quite the same." My favorite line from it says "if we didn't laugh, we'd all go insane" and this for the most part describes my motto for living in Brazil. From bureaucatic conundrums to daily issues of traffic and pollution, the way I have come to love a country so different from my own is to laugh. As much as possible. 

This would have been handy if I could have laughed about our fourth flat tire in three weeks yesterday, but unfortunately I was just about laughed out about that one. Maybe later after I pay $XX,XXX to buy two new tires for the monster truck.

On the facebook page for this blog, I posted on Thursday about an assault at my small club in São Paulo. I decided to let it ride a few days before posting here. But coming up to the World Cup, I have decided to return a bit to my security posts (Born Again Brazilian and I did a Monday series a few months ago). Why am I doing this? Because this assault scared me, impressed me, and made me realize that visitors to this city need to be prepared. The victim of this assault was 100% prepared and it may have saved his life.

Watch the video in this link. It's a little more than a minute long. This is the road in front of my club where all of the members park to walk into the reception area. Where the victim in the white car parks is about 15 feet from the entrance to the club, and it is not very parked up at 6:40 am. And clearly the security guards are sparse at this time--we had two other assaults last year in front of the club and they have put in more security. But they weren't there.

The white car is a Land Rover Freelander. The car that pulls up with a guy holding a high-powered rifle (in the next day's story it claims a machine gun; I am happy to say it makes no difference to me) is a Honda CRV with at least three guys in it. The victim immediately raises his hands and walks to the sidewalk. He stands, hopefully not looking right into the assailant's faces (you do not want to seem to be trying to identify them and these shameless guys were not wearing masks).

And then the part that would make you laugh if it weren't so insane. He is asked to go back to the car and start the ignition for the criminals. In fact, they do not know how to turn on the car they are stealing. He calmly gets into the car, starts it, puts his hands up and goes back to the sidewalk. If there is ever a poster child for how to handle an assault--calmly, hands up, this is the guy. 56 years old, a public relations executive. Maybe he needs to start a blog on safety.

I went to the club the afternoon after this video was published by the news media. As I dropped off my parents and kids at the reception, I noticed there was no security guard across the street as was normal, but instead 2 guys videotaping. They were not wearing network TV shirts and were not identified as being official in any way. So I parked, walked to the front desk and asked "who are those people videotaping the front of the club?" And the receptionist didn't know. I went back and asked at the club administration desk and they also did not know. Another security breach if you ask me. While that is a public spot where they were standing, they are videotaping a private club and we should know why. Finally the club sent a security guard to figure it out.

Without any humor at all, I say to anyone living in any big city:

1. Be aware of your surroundings. Roads that are easy access to escape routes (e.g., Marginal) are more likely to have this kind of crime. My club is one street from the Marginal.
2. Watch who may pull up next to you.
3. React calmly to any assault.
4. If you have children with you, speak to the assailant and tell them you are going to get your kids out of the car, slowly. Tell them they can have the car and everything else in it.

The Land Rover was recovered two days after the assault. I doubt the victim has recovered yet, but I certainly would like to congratulate him on his reaction.

With these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
Nothing remains quite the same
With all of my running and all of my cunning
If I couldn't laugh I just would go insane
If we couldn't laugh we just would go insane
If we weren't all crazy we would go insane
-Jimmy Buffet

Past safety blogs from Brazil in My Eyes:

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: Street Secruity

Part 3: Car Safety

Part 4: Taxi and Public Transportation Security

Part 5: School Security

Part 6: Security at Home

Part 7:  Stats and Tatts

1 comment:

  1. When people ask me about crime, I try and explain that crime isn't necessarily worse in São Paulo - it is different. You have to react differently than you might in your own country. And it is going to happen in what are probably unexpected places. Don't assume you know.