Sunday, August 10, 2008

Time Zones

Later this month we will be welcoming a Japanese exchange student into our home for 10 days. A few days ago we attended an orientation session to prepare us for the experience. One thing the program coordinator told the host families is that in Japan, it is considered very rude to be late. Our students will become upset and anxious if they perceive that we are going to be late to a scheduled group activity or appointment and embarrassed if we actually ARE late. Therefore we need to make every effort to get our students to their engagements on time.

Yesterday, I attended a baby shower for a woman from South America. The invitation said three o'clock. When I arrived at 3:10, I was the only non-family member there. Over the next forty-five minutes more guests arrived every five minutes or so until, around four, everyone was there and the festivities began in earnest. ONe of my friends who arrived around 3:40 remarked to me, "Oh I knew there was not point in showing up at 3. No one would be there yet." The thing is, I kind of knew that too. But I couldn't shake the notion that, as a relative outsider to this particular group, for ME to show up half and hour late would still seem rude.

Then there is the concept of "basically on time". I always maintain that if you arrive within 10 minutes of the appointed hour, you are "basically on time". Ten minutes is an acceptable margin of error that takes into account the phone call that arrives just as you are leaving the house/office, traffic delays, the wrong turn that makes you double back, etc. My spouse maintains that ten minutes after the appointed hour is late and to be avoided by leaving more time that you think you will need to arrive at your destination. Quite often, when his strategy carries the day, we end up arriving 10 to 15 minutes EARLY for an engagement, which I find extremely awkward,

What kind of time culture do you live in?

3 comments:

Presbyterian Gal said...

Since my son arrived, I've become very erratic. Used to be the first at a party and last to leave!

Now it's either two hours too early (truly happened at a kid's birthday party) or the ubiquitous half hour late. I think 30 minutes is OK for a party. On time is required for lunch and meetings. And two weeks late is acceptable for IRS audits.

Great sermon this morning BTW! My mom said so too.

ellbee said...

I try to be on time for most things, and generally hit the mark. The exception is when I can't remember the exact start time, then I aim for teh half-way point. Say it's a party at 4 or 430, I figure 415 is a good time to arrive (not too late for 4, but not too early for 430). In my world, at least.

jledmiston said...

People are all over the map in our congregation: the Africans are strolling in whenever. The Asians are literally the first ones in the pews. How interesting.

I close my eyes during the first prayer and when I open them, the congregation has doubled in size. Don't know if it's a casual-about-being-late thing or they just don't like the announcements.