Do you know someone that are always late? Do they irritate you? Imagine to live in a country where everyone are late, all the time! In many of the countries I have lived in for longer periods, it has been exactly like that.
My parents told me from a young age that; Being late is egoistic and self-centered because you think you are so important that other people can waste their time waiting for you. So I learned early to be on point. Preferably, ten minutes before time.
Therefore, when I moved to Nigeria, I experienced a culture shock when no one was ever at time. If it was a social event, it usually started 2-3 hours later than it was supposed to because the guests were not there before then. And me, that was there on point, had to wait these 2-3 hours. Nigerian time, they told me when I complained. In Bolivia, the exact thing; Hora Boliviana (Bolivian time). In India as well; Indian time. The same pattern I have found in most developing countries I have visited.
A while ago I was going to meet a friend for a coffee. I as a good European even came before the time we had agreed upon on. However, my friend was not there in time. And for 1, 5 hour I was waiting at the coffee shop alone before she arrived.
I have even been forced to wait in dangerous streets alone in the night, because my friends were not on point.
Three weeks ago, I attended a baby shower. It was supposed to start at 15.00. But started at 17.00 because that was when guests started to arrive. While two weeks ago, I attended a birthday party of a friend. It was supposed to start at 20.00. When my husband and I arrived at 21.30, we were the first guests there.
The same thing is if you invite someone to your house for dinner. They will usually be 1 – 1,5 hours too late. So when they arrive the food is cold. And I am usually very hungry!
Yesterday, we were supposed to meet two friends for dinner in the night. For over 45 minutes my husband and I were waiting for them. Then we just left, because when we called to ask where they were they were on the other side of the city doing some papers!
Even in my own wedding, the guests came late. The ceremony started one hour later than it was supposed to, and then just half of the guests had arrived. In my civil wedding even the witnesses were not there when the wedding was starting!! And these were supposedly people that we trusted!
I have stopped to be irritated by people that comes too late. I have gotten used to it. I have adapted to a society where everyone are late, all the time! After many hours of waiting on people that were not there on time, I have started to come a little bit late myself, as I know they will be late. But usually I just come around 10-15 minutes later.
However, sometimes. But this is not often, someone is actually at time. That is why you do not want to be very late, as you know how bad it is to let people wait for you. So it is really hard to know what to do when you never know if the people you are going to meet will be 10 minutes late or as much as 1, 5 hour.
This has all contributed to that I am going less out with friends. Because, I have better things to do than to sit and wait for someone. I do not have time to waste hours of my day, waiting for someone that do not respect my time. The Bolivian, the Nigerian, and the Indian time – is surely something I will not miss when I am back home in Norway again!
Have you ever been in a country where no one is ever at time?