Chileans are the most rude, impatient, horrid people I’ve ever met.
There. I’ve said it.
But hold up, hold up… They’re actually the loveliest too.
Well, they’re the nicest in that they are so, so helpful. As a pregnant lady whose had her fair share of baby bump issues, I can’t thank the general public enough. The security guards, random passersby, neighbours and concierge staff who helped me on the three occasions when I fainted in public. You are awesome.
The guys who work in our apartment block and always help me with my shopping, and always refuse any offer of a tip. You’re lovely too.
Our former nanny, who helped us so much with our transition to Chile and who loves our children as much as we love her. You are a gem.
I can no longer count the number of Chilean friends in my address book. You’re all fabulous.
But all these people have a flaw. Get them behind the wheel of any vehicle and bam! they’re transformed into the most impatient, unfriendly beasts known to man. Jekyll turns into Hyde faster than you can say ‘no parking’.
Is it just me or do Chileans have a strain within their DNA that forbids them from letting a car pass in front of them, even when there’s space? Is it a national pastime to honk at pregnant women struggling with their boisterous preschoolers en route to nursery to get them to hurry up?
Once, on such an occasion as I was trying to get my kids out of the car, the car behind beeped and beeped at me. As my youngest pulled my hair and refused to leave, as my eldest decided he would come out into the open road to direct traffic and as I tried to collect their school bags, all the while carrying extra kilos in baby weight, I blew it.
I stepped up to the car, shouted (alas in English) to the top of my voice, gesturing with hand signals that I was doing my best considering my kids, my bump and the fact that the car door had only been open a few milliseconds while I tried to get him out.
‘Is your sh*tty life really so goddamn important? Is your job really so urgent that you can’t spare two seconds to let a mum get her kids to nursery?!’ I screamed.
Oops, it was actually the car behind.
So I repeated my tirade to the next vehicle. Thankfully it seems that the driver’s passenger (his wife?) had my back and she started shouting at him too. As I left they were still arguing.
But let’s be fair. It’s not just Chileans. The Spanish are the same.
A few years ago, when my child was to be baptised, my mother and I looked on anxiously as we ran later and later to get to the church. The Spanish contingent lazed around, joking, drinking coffee, napping while my mother and I bit our nails.
Then of course we get in the car (late) and my Spanish hubby nearly kills one cyclist and two pedestrians en route. My mother gains several new grey hairs and a face lift.
I know I differ with regards to views on God, but surely the Big Man upstairs would prefer us to be a little late and avoid killing His congregation on the way? Or better still, surely He would be happier if we just did the British thing and leave on time in the first place?
Here in Santiago, I’m thrilled to have passed my Chilean driving test, but it still bugs me how impolite people are behind the wheel.
Clearly it’s not a nationality thing, but I do wonder if it’s a cultural thing.
‘Why are you waving your hand Mummy?’ my kids asks as I gesture a thanks on the rare occasion that a driver lets me switch lanes.
‘It’s your priority! Don’t let him in!’ screams my hubby if he’s in the passenger seat with me.
Well, sorry senor, I may not be the best driver, but this is the way I do things.
Yesterday when a car pulled out in front without any thank you, I beeped my horn. Oh dear, perhaps I am turning into ‘one of those drivers’ after all? Chile, I rather love you.