Time is all a relative thing.
I’m not going to launch into any sort of diatribe about how age is just a number. (The romantic in me believes this to be true, but my recent ventures in C25K and the odd pain and trials its has caused my body tell me that maybe, just maybe there is something to the # of years I have behind me. or in front of me. Probably both.)
Instead, though, let’s talk about how time works in Zambia.
[Brief, Personal Context of Time]
I have a long history with time management (a trait noticeably absent from my resume). There is certainly a line that can be traced back to hereditary habits and my mother, but I attempted to break this mold when I got wheels of my own. Fast forward two years and picture my ’95 Toyota Celica tearing into the parking lot as the first bell rings and me fleeing from my car into the building. Had I not been such an upstanding student otherwise, I might have faced more consequences. Then there was Savannah, GA. Where businesses shut down inexplicably in the middle of the day and people always talked about “island time.” (Savannah is not an island.)
In general, my internal clock runs at about 3 minutes late. I also tend to estimate that I will be wherever I need to be in 7 minutes no matter the actual distance. (Who am I kidding? You all know this about me. You’ve had to wait for me at Starbucks. I’m a flawed person with a skewed perception of time. I typically want and expect things to happen much quicker than reality allows.) But to sum up 3 mins + 7 mins = 10 mins of average lateness, with exceptions for professional and/or highly anticipated circumstances. Mostly.
[End history lesson]
Zambia introduces whole new theories about time relativity. Now, just now and now now are less an actual indication and more a vacillating scale of when something may happen. I was asked to attend and speak at an event last weekend scheduled to begin at 10 am. I waited until we were creeping towards 1200 without signs of beginning and then delegated my responsibilities to another and quietly bowed out. I was informed the program eventually commenced at 1400 (2:00pm).
I would like to say I laughed it off with grace and went on about my day.
But I did not. I was frustrated. Please refer to: how quickly I want all things to happen. Call it ADD or just a limited attention span (something else I think I come by honestly). I wanted to storm through buildings all Godzilla like and take out all things in my wake. OR I wanted to quietly walk into a room and weep silently in the corner for no less than 15 minutes. It was really a toss-up.
I’m not quite ready to vow that I’m going to be on time for the rest of my life (again, let’s not kid ourselves). I am working out cultural interpretations of time and how to mash them all together- my quasi type A personality, a oft-late family and a culture of ambiguous time make for an interesting combination. I anticipate a few more days of frustration through the process.