Monday, November 21, 2011

Rubber Time

At some point you think I'd learn.  In Spain nothing happens on time.  Fifteen minues late is "on time" and half an hour late is still acceptable.  It takes some getting used to when you show up fifteen minutes early for class and it's forty minutes before you see your first students in an adult business class.  They have a different idea of what's rush-worthy.  The last subway train of the night is rush-worthy.  The start of the business day not so much. It's the laid back Latin mentality that also allows whole cities to shut after lunch for siesta.  The Brits are known for their timeliness, the Spanish, for good reason, are not.

If the Spanish are tardy, I'm not sure what the correct term for Indonesians is.  The phrase they use is "rubber time", which really doesn't do justice to their lack of punctuality. It's not just the mentality that it doesn't really matter.  It's also that there's always a good excuse - the rain, the traffic, a flat tire on your ojek, no taxis, a protest or road closure. Surprisingly, my business class is always on time but it is an office of just ten people and I teach in their only conference room.

Knowing all of this I still always show up on time.  At work we're required to be in at seven.  The first class of the school day isn't until 7:20.  I turn up between 6:50 and 6:55 every day.  I was into my business class five minutes early.  I arrive early enough at the radio show that I can squeeze in a sate.  My downfall is being on time to social events. My friends never manage to calculate how long trips in this chaotic city will take.  I seem to have a better sense about how long it really takes to get somewhere.  I consider the time of day,  where I'm going to and from, what political issues might affect my trip, and the weather.

Yesterday, for example, I was able to walk down to the street, wait minutes for a taxi and still get to the restaurant five minutes early. My friend was 30-40 minutes late.  It was raining, she couldn't get a cab, etc.  She's lived in Indonesia ten years but doesn't have a sixth sense about transport I guess. This wasn't my longest wait either! That tops out at an hour and a half.  No reason to wonder why I carry a book!

1 comment:

  1. I have a Spanish friend who's always on time, or even earlier, whoch is weird. I'm the one usually late either when we meet or she's picking me up. Even though we agree on a meeting/pick up time, and she even calls/texts when she's about to arrive.

    Spain is corrupting me :/ he he he!!!