You're Late! No, I'm Only 30 Minutes Behind!

Whilst travelling these past few weeks, I’ve noticed something totally different from European countries about times, and keeping “appointments”. 

Southern European countries (e.g.: Portugal, Spain, Italy), as well as folks from the Americas (not the US or Canada though) and India all view time as more “elastic” as I once heard. This means that, although you may agree to meet a friend for dinner at 7:00 PM, they might not arrive until 8:30 PM; without telling you that they’re running late. This is simply because they just view their days as more flexible than you might. Who know’s why, but it’s a less stressful way of living. Compared to my Norwegian and German friends, if you say 11:00 AM, they will be there at 10:55 AM. 

Which lifestyle do I like better though, that’s the main question. I grew up with the stricter time schedule, similar to my German and Norwegian friends; but after travelling some, and growing up some, I now am always running late. By US standards, five minutes is acceptable, ten is ok - depending on the event and situation, and 15 is rude. I’m usually between that gap, if it’s class, I show up right on time; if class starts at 2:00 I am there at 2:00; if its a social event, I show up when I’m ready (granted I do keep in mind that if its only an hour long then not to show up an hour-and-a-half late). I enjoy the lifestyle of the lenient schedule, but I do have to remember to be considerate of others whilst travelling and making arrangements. I think there’s a good trade between both worlds . You obviously need to be on time for class and your plane departure, but you don’t need to rush to the party if it’s lasting all night. 

If a friend is running behind the time we agreed upon to meet, that’s fine, I’ll just have a cup of coffee, or catch up on some texts I haven’t replied to yet. Yet, for a job interview, I’m always planning to be there 20 minutes ahead of the suggested time. :) 

Just some food for thought, what are you like? Have you tried to be more elastic with your time keeping, or stricter? Do you have friends who are always late; or are you that friend?


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