“Jen, when we go to Immigration on Monday, let me do the talking,” is what João told me on Friday after we had gone to find out Mr. M’s decision concerning my visa renewal. I had gone up to the desk to ask Mr. M if he had my passport. He started yelling at me: “It’s not ready! I told you to come back Monday! It’s not ready now! Come back Monday!” He had clearly told us “tomorrow” on Thursday. But I wasn’t going to argue, so I thanked him and we left.
That’s when João told me I was rude. Oh, he said it nicely, and he explained why, but that was the gist of it. He said my manner of speaking caused Mr. M to respond to me the way he does. João acknowledged that I’m just learning Portuguese and don’t know these things. He explained that in Portuguese there are more rules than in English and that it’s important, when approaching an official, to use a lot of “sir”, “I’m sorry”, “excuse me”, “if you please”, etc. The thing is, I know most of this intellectually, but humbling myself in such a manner when I’m so frustrated with these Immigration officials is another matter. But I can work on it. And I really appreciate that João felt comfortable enough explaining everything to me in a patient, understanding way. Not many people would do that.
Tomorrow, hopefully, with João doing the talking, we will finally get some answers about my visa. Hopefully I will still be allowed to stay here.