Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Group Post How to Alienate Chileans (in one easy step)

The ever hilarious and appropriately navel-gazing Margaret Snook over at Cachando Chile has called out for a group blog post, which we, ever the trained seals, and wanting to please get more clickety than last week, are compelled to respond. So far we have:
Margaret's post that got it started off
and then we've got very content-heavy but personally petite weigh-ins by Emily, Abby, Sara, Lucie, Annje, Maeskizzle, at least two of whom I owe an email to, and btw, I'm with my family and have all but fallen over the planet, so pardon that and yes, no and of course in that order, in response to what you asked. Or something.

I have not yet read these blogs, nor the comments associated with them, but at Margaret's request and the twenty-minute breather I'm giving myself between virtual office and time with the family, I will explain to you the singularly most effective way to alienate, offend, horrify and otherwise bug the bewhosis out of a Chilean.

Ready? Please be seated and remove that wintogreen lifesaver from your mouth lest you choke or accidentally set off those freakish green sparks (and no, it is not a myth).

Anyway, here we go. The one stop no-fail hands down, multiply adjectived best way to alienate a Chilean:

Use the word "no" when you mean to say "no."

Let's do a quick recap. You go on a date with someone, and at the end of the night, he pre-asks you on another date. Something along the lines of "Were I to ask you out again, in the event that we were both free and available and both interested in eating the same food/seeing the same movie, etc, if those stars were to align, what would you say to the two of us going out again?"

Let's say you did not enjoy the date. You felt stifled and strange and wondered on several occasions why they put the bathroom at the back of the restaurant, where it would be impossible to leave without your date noticing. You would, at this point, employ the "Maybe not," or "I don't think so," or "Well, maybe in a couple of months," or "You know what? I'm just not feeling it."

No, no, no and no.

You may not refuse an offer of a social engagement. Whether it is a date, lunch plans, going away for the weekend, going to a birthday party or any other invitation, you MAY NOT REFUSE.

Now, do not fall prey to the worry that this means you must actually attend the date, the lunch plans, the weekend or the party. What you will do is a bit of a switcheroo. You will use the word yes, but you will send mental "nos" along with the yes, such that the party of the first part will understand that the party of the second part ain't going nowhere nohow with your sorry poto (you do the math), without actually rejecting the social engagement.

I have run afoul of this evasive telepathic no while saying yes on a number of occasions, and on every occasion I have been seen as rude, uncultured, mean, American and bizarre. To which the answers are naaaah, maybe, probably not, definitely, and y que? (so what?).

If you want a Chilean to like and understand you, you should work on figuring out how to say yes in a way that lets everyone know that the answer is no.

And when you learn, please explain it to me, because this gringa still hasn't figured it out. And you know what? She only cares some of the time. And you can believe that's true or guess if it's false or wonder if maybe I'm saying something as a pretext for something else or if I really meant to say something else but I didn't want to stir up bad sentiments. And so I'll tell you loud and clear, just like they told us in college. No means no. And yes? that means yes.

Have you alienated a Chilean today? (was that a no/no or a yes/no? It's so hard to know, you know?


Sara said...

Yes. So. True. This is why they have a culture of "Juntemosnos maƱana!" and NOTHING ever happens. It's a brush off. I'm one of those horribly passive people now that will be like "Of course I want to juntar with you tomorrow. Duh. Call me." Then, I let it ring, and ring, and ring... I've turned into a mean person it seems.

Annje said...

I have alientated a chilean... and he will come over here to your post and insult my bad table manners.

You know, I don't think the trick is saying "yes" and implying/meaning "no". I think it is just saying "yes" and then as luck would have it, it doesn't work out in your favor to attend. I think it goes hand in hand with the making-plans that don't pan out frustrations that Sara mentioned... saying yes to plans or ideas of plans means very little... maybe this is the missing link.

My husband also hates calling our fellow-US chilean friends to let them know that we can't attend an event--I usually get to do that, you know, cuz I was born with bad manners apparently.

Eileen said...

I can't wait to eat a meal with you Annje, so I can stand up and shout at you in the middle of a meal, insist on a cheek to cheek kiss goodbye and then tell you we can get together tomorrow.

I would like very much to believe that they think they can get together and then can't, but that would indicate that Chileans have riotously bad time-management skills, and I simply can't believe that an entire culture of people doesn't understand the conservation of matter or the time-space continuum, so I'm going to stick with the idea that they just hate to say no, and will say yes even when the answer is no.

And Sara, yeah, I know. We actually say (among gringas), no, but let's REALLY get together when we say we'll do something. I guess it's because it's what I'm used to but my Chilean friends actually do follow up. Maybe that's why they're my friends. Or why no other Chileans will have them and so they have to be friends with the furreners.

Margaret said...

ha-ha-ha... See Eileen? I KNEW you would come up with just the piece the rest of us were missing!
Love it, love it, love it... but now, of course, I will have to do all the mental gymnastics that go with your future yeses (did she say yes cuz I'm a gringa and will expect yes to mean yes and she knows that I would accept a no if it really meant no... or does she think that even though I'm a gringa, I've been here a long time and have perhaps forgotten that no can be no and NOT be an insult to our friendship? Or is this a trick question and she really means maybe because she's too tired to figure it all out, because at this point I sure am!
Thanks Eileen!
And now check out Cachando Chile (dot com) for the NEXT assignment (in which you are already duly cited)... Finding your way IN to Chile!

Eileen said...

oh Margaret, don't worry about me. When I say yes, it really means yes. Unless I have poor time management skills (see my comment) in which case it might just mean no. Or something. And yes, tired here, too. Going to go see my next assignment. I hope it comes with a disguise, or at least a cool spy accoutrement. May I suggest a saints bracelet where each bead represents one of the blogueras for ease of communication? I will be the heretic, what with being Jewish and all. Oh yes. Tired. that's right.

Abby said...

Love it too!! I seem to be really good at the whole yes/no thing, although it took awhile to learn. I guy I didn't really like invited me to the playa, and I said "Oh yeah, sure!" and luckily, as Annje describes, it didn't work out THANK GOD. Although I did have about a million excuses ready in case he happened to call and tell me we were actually going...

Lucie said...

Ha ha! Great post!

Sharon said...

I thought it was just me :P. I hate being rude, so instead of a no I say maybe and hope they get the right signal. If they don't, I just block them from msn and don't answer calls. My boyfriend is teaching me to learn how to say no, because I got into an extremely creepy situation in the past for not being able to do so.

But yeah, the chilean yes thing is very frustrating to us as well, because when I say yes (instead of maybe) I mean it and sometimes I think it's the same with other people.

Margaret said...

Eileen-intrigued by your request for disguises and will wait in suspense until it turns into a post!
And yes, I figure we speak pretty much the same language when it comes to yes and no... I think we're even pretty on track with our maybes, probablies, and we'll-sees!

There are some incipient rumblings about a Chile blogger meet-up in early January... yes? no? maybe so?

Margaret said...

What's going on with the blogger pictures? I think blogger and wordpress are at war- Annje's picture doesn't show up on my blog and now mine doesn't show on yours... neither does yours, come to think of it... but maybe you've started that disguise thing already?

julie said...

Ok, I totally loved this.
It's also true of Cubans. My husband, when speaking to his family, is asked if he/we can do something for them (don't get me started about the niece's quinceanera gift request list). Even when he knows that the answer is no, he says yes. I know it's "cultural" and all, but gah, I find it so exhausting and complicated and ultimately a major emotional drain.

Candice said...

BAHAHAHA. Outstanding.

Still Life in South America said...

Bueno...Nos vemos! ;-)

Welcome home, Eileen!

Maria Larissa said...

what about saying "we'll see" or i'm kind of busy on said date you want to go out on but give me a buzz later in the week and i shall let you know if i'm free. and then you know, don't answer when they buzz :P

i'm filipino and the culture is similar. sometimes when people say yes, you actually can tell already that they mean no. and i don't find it offensive, but i think a lot of people would rather say yes than risk offending someone. i'd rather have it done directly, but if it makes them feel better to evade that way, then go ahead. if i need people to be direct when rsvping to something i say so, and absolve them of feeling that they will offend me by doing so.