It is normal around here to be thinking of timings, and times, and the adherence to these, and the not so much adherence to them as well. To me, they are peculiar and I can’t seem to really get my head around how it works. Meaning that I constantly misjudge them.
A common prejudice would be that everyone is always late here and that therefore you can never trust set timings and everything starts late and lasts longer than intended. Indeed I even heard Portuguese themselves referring to this as being a fact. Given that they don’t use siestas, and thus get a normal daily break, they instead take everything slow and are late to the first thing, the second thing, and so on and all of the day gets pushed forward. In fact, kids nap up to school age since dinner is so late that they go to bed too late. I even heard that school buses aren’t really liked, because the children fall asleep on their way back home, because they are tired. Thus going to bed even later, of course.
To some extent it is really true that everything is late and nothing is quick here. But to a very certain extent it is not, at all.
What I pick up from the work scene here in Portugal is that it is true that people are late. The mornings are a hazy time with unclear starting hours and being late to meetings is common also with the ones setting the examples, the bosses. And I am not talking a couple of minutes or ten minutes late, no no, I am talking at least half an hour lateness. And with no excuse offered, because, really, I guess no excuse is needed. This is mind blowing as to me it is a matter of respect. It is not just you it is about, it is about the person or persons waiting for you, about their schedule becoming messed up for one, but even more so because you are really saying that whatever it was you were doing before was more important. And at least for my own part I have an urge to officially excuse that so that everybody can actually acknowledge that whatever doctors visit or so I had actually was more important, and understandably so. Or to apologize, because clearly how could anything be more important?
But the part that I find the most strange, is that although being late people don’t seem to really be in a hurry. Even for drop of at school in the mornings, as most of the other parents are moving out of the building, parents coming into school ten minutes late actually linger with their kids. When being late to school! I mean, fine, no real need to stress the kids out even if you are late, it can happen to anybody and it does, and it is probably better to keep your calm, but how about acting like a role model and actually showing that coming to school in time is important? By being focused and showing a sense of urgency. Instead, they walk slowly, look as relaxed as ever and even stop on the way in to talk to somebody they meet. Who is actually on the way out. In these cases I always end up being the wronging one, because I don’t want them to be late, so I rush past, I interrupt them when they try to talk to me. I end up being the one who is rude and stressed instead of them. What went down there?
But on the very opposite hand, some things are really quick. Like getting a handyman when you need stuff repaired or fixed in the house. Like getting a person to clean your house. Or getting something dry cleaned. Or getting clothes shortened, widened, tightened. Or getting an appointment for the hair dresser. Or for a manicure, pedicure or whatever spa treatment. In these cases the options are always right now or possibly the day after. If they can’t make it until tomorrow, it is almost with an ashamed voice and always with a sincere excuse that they tell you. If you do try to book something further ahead it’s almost like I get the feeling that they wonder why you’re calling already, like what the problem is. In any case, it is a sure way of standing out as non local and as non belonging to the culture.
But the problem is, I can’t seem to understand when the short timings versus the non respect for time appears or is to be applied. And until I do, I am the one behaving strangely and misjudging one situation from the other.
I mean, I don’t know, but could the hypothesis be that it is as simple as things moving quickly when the service performed means direct payment?