¿Por qué no te callas?

Yes I had a change of plan and have ventured into Venezuela for a few weeks.

When Spanish King Juan Carlos said to Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, “why don`t you shut up?” he became a hero there and elsewhere. His comment was uploaded to the internet and subsequently downloaded as a cell phone ringtone by millions of Spaniards and others. Now, I don`t know much about Chavez but my impressions of Venezuela are 1) lots of police, 2) lots of traffic. They also have this odd law that requires you to give your name, national ID number and telephone when making a purchase. That’s right: Every single thing you buy, except food,  is recorded by the government. It’s crazy and leads to huge delays at the checkout counter. I spent half my time in Caracas waiting in traffic or waiting to buy stuff. It is one city I would not want to live in.

Here’s a view of the traffic from my hotel room. It was like this all day…

…and all night:

Want a drink?

You see some strange things when traveling. I had just crossed into Venezuela and stopped at a little store to buy some juice. There in the refrigerator next to the Coke was a bottle of…well let’s just say I don’t think it would sell very well in the USA.

It’s all about what you expect

Despite the frustration of trying to get around in Caracas I found I was not impatient or angry. I realized that I had adjusted my expectations to account for the poor service and the conditions. In other words, I had very low expectations of people and things, so when I got delayed or received lousy service I was not disappointed.

The converse is also true. If you go to a Four Seasons hotel you have very high expectations and if something is not exactly right you will notice it and be a little disappointed. So the secret to happiness, maybe, is to have low expectations of everyone, then when people do things that are stupid or thoughtless or rude, you won’t feel angry or offended. My cousin Mike Kilpela described this concept to me years ago. Don’t expect consideration, kindness or intelligence from anyone. That way when you don’t get it you won’t feel bad. If you do get it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Any thoughts on that?