A Spanish woman and an Irish woman are having a chat. The Spanish woman is asked to convey in one word, something quintessential about her national character. She thinks for a minute. Then she has it. ‘Manana.’
The Irish women has a long hard think, shrugs her shoulders and says:
‘We have no word in the Irish language which conveys a similar sense of urgency’ . (HAHA!)
Do we live up to our cultural stereotype as feckless, laid back, horizontal even?
Quite possibly. One thing for sure is that we are bad time keepers.
However, we are not alone!
My experiences as a glamping host has given me a privileged glimpse into the foibles and idiosyncrasies of guests from many different countries.
The way I see it, the world is divided into two sorts of people. Absolutes and Approximates. Let me give you an example. An Approximate will tell you that they are going to arrive at 3pm.
DING- That for me is now cast in stone. I will organise my day to the Nth degree to be here to welcome them at 3pm. However, for an Approximate 3pm is a rough guideline. What it really means is that they will turn up at any point from 12 noon to midnight. I kid you not.
The most favoured time for Approximates to turn up is dinner time.
Again, dinner time is one of these cast in stone family ritual things. I cook, we sit together. The fiery one’s fight. The peacekeepers peace keep. We eat. It causes me actual physical pain to leave the dinner table at 8.30 to welcome my 3pm guest.
Absolutes, on the other hand, relate to time in a very literal way.
Let me give you another example. An Absolute will do everything in their power to arrive at the assigned time. If they are held up, they will send multiple texts informing you of their progress. When they do arrive, they will apologize profusely. It upsets them to be late. They do not willingly mess with the sacred cow of time. Needless to say, these are my people. I don’t mess with the sacred cow either.
A recent discussion with another Absolute confirmed for me how deeply we revere the cow.
She recounted a story in which she was kept waiting for over thirty minutes. In all seriousness she said she felt the only reason someone could be this late, without texting was sudden death.
Breakfast is another potential minefield. Do you know how long it takes to soft boil an egg? 5 minutes. Not 3, not 8. Precisely 5.
So, when I ask guests, ‘what time would you like breakfast?’ I mean this in a very literal sense.
It should be simple. The guest names the time. I deliver the breakfast.
But no, an Approximate will find any way possible to wriggle around and violate the cow!
Some Approximates won’t wake up. Precious moments are lost whilst they scramble into their clothes (uh, hum, or not…) then the half-door of the gypsy wagon is flung open as bleary eyed, they receive their congealing breakfasts.
More insidious, are the Approximates who disappear into the shower at the appointed breakfast time. What is that about?
No shadow of doubt that an Absolute will be ready on time for breakfast. On a fine day, you will see them sitting out at the picnic table, showered and dressed, napkin on lap at five minutes before the appointed time.
Given the security and sense of well-being I experience when I am with my own kind, you will be very surprised to hear that I have married into the other camp. My beloved is an Approximate of the highest order. The king of Approximate and I am the queen of Absolute. Opposites attract and all that…
Do you think the cosmos is trying to teach us both something?