The Spanish do not suffer fools gladly. Spanish women do not suffer fools in any way whatsoever! They know instinctively and immediately when someone is messing them around and they will not stand for it. Examples include setting a bill straight when a surly waiter has added one too many coca colas, dealing with someone who has pushed into a queue, and whipping useless customer service reps into shape when a phone call isn’t going to plan. Telefonica hasn’t sorted out your internet connection in time? Got a Spanish girlfriend/flatmate? Get her on the case!
Now this is by no means meant as criticism. As long as you aren’t on the sharp end of a determined Spaniard it’s a marvel to behold, and in my case, Marina’s abilities in this field have saved us hundreds if not thousands of Euros and sorted out endless problems.
But what is it that makes the Spanish woman so strong? It has been suggested that it’s a back-lash against years of macho oppression by the chauvinist Franco regime, or perhaps it’s just a Spanish version of feminism. It is almost certainly a reaction to the fact that Spanish women know they have to put up a good fight in a country where they still face promotion glass ceilings at work, and are usually paid one third less than their male counterparts, even in multinational companies.
Whatever the case, as you get deeper into Spanish culture, you will often hear reference to a person’s carácter, a word that doesn’t refer to personality as a whole, but that fiesty bit in all of us that wells up to sort out annoyances. “¡Qué carácter tienes, macho!“, Marina tells me when I’m in a bad mood, to which I’ll reply, “Carácter, me???”
But Carácter gets money knocked off bills and internet connections installed faster, and keeps husbands doing their share of the work in the kitchen. I hope this post celebrates the famous national carácter, but I’m still left wondering, will I get into trouble when my Spanish wife reads it? 😉