In this posting I shall lay bare, for all to see, not only my embarrassing ignorance, but rank prejudice on my part. Blogs are a place for confession, right? A place where we honestly confront the demons we find within ourselves? Well, here goes:
My wife and daughter are flying home from Memphis as I type this. Well, not directly, of course — they’re going to Charlotte at the moment. Then they’ll come home.
Anyway, I took a moment from my work (which I shouldn’t have done: time management rule No. 1) to look up their itinerary on this laptop. I’m now regretting that action because I saw they are flying on something called an EMBRAER JET.
So I further wasted valuable time (I mean, what was I going to do with the information at this point?), by Googling that term, and was punished with a fresh dose of anxiety for doing so.
Turns out Embraer is a Brazilian aircraft maker.
I had no idea Brazil made jets. There’s the abysmal ignorance of the aircraft industry, which I obviously need to bone up on what with Vought Alenia and all that.
I was instantly uncomfortable that my wife and my little girl were — are — flying on a Brazilian jet. If they can’t fly on a Boeing, an Airbus would be OK. Or maybe something German — say, a Fokker. There’s the rank prejudice. And yes, I was instantly ashamed in addition to being uncomfortable. Quite a mix.
I couldn’t help thinking: I hope they didn’t make this one during Carnival.
I’ll say only one thing in my defense: This bigotry is not entirely my fault. Brazil doesn’t exactly market itself as a country full of engineers in white coats and hardhats, peering through safety goggles at the production process while checking off quality-control boxes on a clipboard (Oh, I suppose some ministry or other in Brasilia does try to sell this image, but I’ve missed the ads). Brazil markets itself as a place that knows how to party.
Hey, I used to live in South America — the Spanish-speaking parts, at least — and I still picture nearly nekkid beautiful women with towering feathery headdresses dancing in the streets if you say, "Rio." (Well, that and the statue of Jesus on top of Sugar Loaf. Now that’s an odd juxtaposition.)
Look, I’m sure they make fine jets. And the Brazilian people I actually know (as opposed to the ones I see in those pictures from Rio) would probably be at least as good at building aircraft as anyone else I know. This just took me by surprise, that’s all.
Tom Friedman’s right: The world is flattening out, and we’re all just going to have to get used to our loved ones flying on jets from countries we didn’t know made jets, and being OK with that.
Otherwise, we end up looking like the idiots who used to sneer at Toyotas back in the ’60s.