Monday, December 18, 2006

Titanic and class struggles

We stayed up watching Titanic last night on Fox. My wife couldn't sleep
so she watched it to try and fall asleep, I stayed up watching it initially to see
if they'd show breastage on Fox in south america(they did), but since I really can't go to
sleep in mid sinking, I stayed up until 3:30 too to watch Leo float away.
I'm paying for it now though.

I wonder what the locals here think of that movie and the class structure it
shows from England and even America at that time. Class still applies in
the US, on airplanes, getting into good universities, gated communities, etc,
but no upper-class person would ever say that to a lower class person, they'd
probably get punched in the face at best, more likely a 9mm gat would be
pushed down their throat.

Here in colombia it's very different, rich people here seem to assume that the
poor will kowtow down, tug a forelock, say "si jefe", to every stupid comment.
On sundays I'm typically out and about wearing the official gringo uniform of
jeans and white tennis shoes, so I get a lot of faces from 60 year old matrons
who expect not to see that sort of thing outside of their gardeners.

In the office, the titles of "jefe" and "ingeniero" are used as marks of respect,
but also with the downcast head of someone who thinks their job and their family's food
could be taken away on the whim of some asshole boss. There are cleaning women
who will bring in coffee after carrying it up three stories (no elevator) and think
that is their lot in life. They also bring their daughters to work, not to see their job
but to start working in the career that will be theirs for life...cleaning.

No one here seems to tell their children "you can grow up to be president", that
job seems to circulate amongst just a few families with money power and connections.

For all the obvious class structure, the people here are very hard working. If they
haven't graduated from a university they are going at night after working all day.
They don't waste their money on taxi's when they can take a two hour long bus ride.
If I try to get to the office first and leave last, there is always someone there earlier
and someone leaving later. Colombia seems like the US in the early 20th century,
hard working, with a class structure still defined by birth and not credit report. I bet
this will be an even more interesting place in 30 years.

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