Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's About Time

If you are a regular reader of the Culture Shock weblog you must have been waiting breathlessly on the edge of your seat for my return to the blogsphere. I'm back.

And not a minute too early.

During my time in the high school marching band we had the following mantra pounded into our heads:

To be early is to be on time
To be on time is to be late
To be late is to be dead

Let's just say much of Eastern Europe wouldn't be populated if the phrase were true here.

A couple nights ago a friend was telling me that she needed something done by 4:00 so she told the person it had to be done by 2:00. It's not that they're incompetent. It's just that they're not concerned about schedule. Certainly there are exceptions to the rule, but that's the way many Eastern Europeans operate.

A meeting that 'starts' at 6:00 will actually start at 6:15, or 6:30 or maybe possibly be delayed until the next day. The person might not even show up. Who knows?

And the reason is that the majority of people here value relationships over schedules. If I arrange to have coffee with someone at 8:00 chances are we'll both be right on time. Then we'll sit, drink, talk, drink and remember we were supposed to be somewhere else 10 minutes ago. That's how it goes.

Maybe in Eastern Europe we should say:

To be late is to be normal
To be on time is to be early
To be early is to be a foriegner

But before you think this foreigner is being critical of my new home, I have to say I have begun to understand the value of relationship over schedule. Is it possible to find a happy-medium?

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