This morning we visited the Office of Migration because we needed some random stamp on our visas. It’s a big building, with many employees, as you might expect in the nation’s capital. We were accompanied by a lawyer who works for Brendan’s company.
The lawyer met us outside, and then, for the rest of our time with him, he refused to let me walk behind him. “Pase,” he would say at every turn and through every door, waiting for me, and any other lady within 10 feet, to go first. Because all the doors were automated, he didn’t have to actually open any for me, but he’s the sort (OK, his countrymen are of the sort) to rush over to the door and make a big to-do about ladies going first. Because I sometimes forget that I’m a lady, I constantly had to be reminded by him to go first.
Finally, though, we got through security and to the elevators. Many other people got into our same elevator. At each stop, the person who got out on their respective floor told all of us still headed upward good-bye and to have a good day. Then everyone — everyone — would respond in kind, wishing him or her likewise, murmuring heartily que tenga un buen dia!! and hasta luego!!
At the first stop (floor 3) I assumed these people all knew each other, perhaps all co-workers in some regard. At the third stop, (floor 9) I started to wonder if I was being rude by not responding back. Finally, once we reached our stop (floor 14), I realized it was a cultural thing, and joined the chorus, telling everyone as I exited “hasta luego, que tenga un buen dia!” And, since I was the only lady getting out on floor 14, our lawyer made sure I exited first, parting the waters with his hands, forming a neat little virtual path for me to exit through.