The locals, by nature, tend to be extremely open, warm, and friendly. Meet a carioca and within five minutes you become childhood friends. If you should meet a second time, they will probably give you a nickname. And nowhere better to share their inherent gregarious nature than while standing in line.

The beauty of the carioca is their ability to make the best of any situation, and waiting in line is one of them. Eternally optimists that they are, when seeing a queue forming anywhere, the carioca will figure there must be something interesting at the end of it and will simply take his or her place in line.

Finding themselves at the end of a forty to fifty minute line, a carioca’s first reaction might be to mutter, “Tôfu” [toh ‘foo] (I’m screwed). But once in line they’ll have a grand time making new friends and comparing opinions on the current political scandal or the latest episode of the novela das oito (the eight o’clock soap opera) with those sharing the same line.

In the event you find yourself face to face with a queue while out and about enjoying the excitement of Rio 2016, do as the locals do. Resort to any of the following common jeitinhos (the knack of getting around anything), and soon you too will be waiting in line like a bona fide carioca:

  • Get in line, then after a few moments ask the person in front of you to save your place. (A smile and a thumbs up while pointing at your shoes will do.) Go for an açaí juice or a few cafezinhos at a nearby kiosk, and then return to your place in line.
  • Turn to the person behind you, shrug your shoulders and smile. Then create a friendly atmosphere by pulling out those family photos you carry in your wallet. Soon your queue neighbor will be sharing his or her photos as well, along with tales of an annoying family member or two, and before you know it, you’ll be at the front of the line. Remember to exchange either kisses or hugs with your new friend before saying “Te ligo” [tchee ‘lee goo] (I’ll call you). Note: exchanging phone numbers is not required.
  • Nudge the person in front of you and smile before saying “Pô, que saco!” [‘poh kee ‘sah ku] (Boy, what a drag!). Seeing as cariocas are never at a loss for words, this will prompt a long and animated response. In the event you don’t have a clue what he or she is saying, simply keep the conversation going by nodding your head up and down while uttering “É mêrmo?” [eh ‘meh moo] (Is that so?). This will prompt those in front of you to also join in the conversation, and before you know it you’ll have reached the front of the line. At which time, be sure to bid your new friends goodbye by saying “A gente se vê!” [ah ‘gen tche see ‘veh] (Let’s get together!), even though odds are you’ll never see any of them again.

A word of caution: Do not attempt to cut in line. If you do, a commotion will ensue, you’ll be met with cries of “Olha a fila!” (Look at the line!) and will immediately be relegated to the end of the line, where your chance of making new friends will be nil!

Olhares Olímpicos – Originally published on 9 Aug 2016