Sunday, July 11, 2010

Money Exchange in Sao Paulo

In one Brazilian airport money exchange booth, up to 8 people are employed every 24 hours, and close to 500 white pages are printed, 300 of them signed. Anybody uses this? All this is done to give service to only about 100 customers. Based on a single booth observation. Your mileage may vary.

The lesson: Don't open a currency exchange in Brazil, open a Bar.

I’m in the Sao Paulo airport - Guarulhos - waiting for my connection to Fortaleza, drinking Smirnoff Ice in a check in area, not in a restaurant or a bar, they are all full, in the US i could get arrested for this... but Brazil is very unlike the US. Besides, I worked hard for this Smirnoff, since I had to wait 15 minutes for two lady’s at a currency exchange booth to exchange a zillion of local notes into a couple of thousand dollars.

Exchanging one single bill in Brazil includes showing your passport and signing 3 papers, two of them get stapled together so they won’t separate on the road to nowhere, where they are read by nobody and then begin a slowly rottening process in a far away warehouse, because of the heat and humidity. The third copy get’s stapled with another two papers you don’t have to sign, and they get piled on a different tower of paper, that will take a different route via somewhere, until it’t gets to the warehouse in nowhere to follow a similar process.

All this is done by just one clerk and the small glass office is guard by a guy who died about 4 days ago, according to fis facial expression and body odor.

The important part of all this is neither you, or the clerk read any of the stuff printed, 5 sheets in total, for similar reasons, the guy doesn’t give a rat’s ass about his job, and after 15 minutes neither do you, you just sign, donating all your earthly posessions, giving him licene to kill you and sell your organs, and leasing your soul to the devil for a thousand years, you just don’t care.... in the small glass office you are holding your breath unless your are a fan of eau de armpit.

So if you wonder why the hell the Amazonas forests are dissapearing? it’s because each time you exchange a 100 dollar bill, in or out of the country, 5 pages of perfectly white paper get printed, and stored to decay, until they become a paper goo, that may or may not become paper again.

It’s a fantastic slow process creates jobs for two people that have the capacity to process 32 exchanges in a 8 hour shift. If you consider the airport may have it’s exchanges booths 24 hours a day (don’t count on it), each exchange booth can require three or four shifts, that means jobs for 6 to 8 people to be able to produce 96 exchanges in 24 hours. Isn’t it fantastic? ( Yes... you the engineers out there noticed i'm assuming that there's and endless supply of customers, which with Guarulhos traffic is about right).

That why you see so few ATMs in Sao Paulo’s airport.

Ok, they are announcing in perfect portuguese (and I only understand the imperfect version I speak) on the incredibly loud speakers, that chirp incredibly loud at the end of each sentence, that my boarding gate has been changed to somewhere. Gotta go.

Update: I'm at beautiful Fortaleza finally, the day is perfect and so is the endless beach, so I'm out of here. We got here last night after waiting 90 minutes on the plane for guess what... Paperwork !

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