I like to think that my broken ankle has contributed to the Albuquerque tourist economy in a small way. Even though I have been away from the Sunport for my longest stretch in five years (10 weeks and counting), this has not meant missing out on seeing family and friends from east and west coasts.
Our casita in Barelas has become a summer waystation.
Since cooking while casted and crutched is not an easy task, I have been the beneficiary of many munificent meals cooked by my visitors. Oddly, a common theme has emerged in the conversation accompanying these meals: time.
One set of friends likes Albuquerque so much that they will soon be relocating to the Duke City. Just before they left to go home and pack up their worldly belongings, they related a story.
During their visit earlier this month, they met a transplant from points midwest who has eagerly embraced our fair city – the weather, the landscape, the people, and the mix of cultures. This person had just one warning for our friends: New Mexico time is different – be prepared for mañana time!
Newcomers inexperienced with polychronic time find this a challenge. So do others
Sandwiched between our visitors from out-of-state was an email sent from work notifying me that my History of Philosophy class (late modern through contemporary) is scheduled from 12:00 am - 12:00 am on Wednesdays. I actually hadn’t planned to lecture about time in this class, but it seems I must now address this on the first day.
Our most recent set of visitors – a fun-loving family of six – spent a few nights in Barelas during their cross-country road trip. They spoke of their experience with “African Time” in Uganda and with African immigrant communities here in these United States.
My mind grabbed hold of this concept and scatted a mental riff of Indian Time
(supposedly now dated, but some of my family members haven't received the memo, since still they use this expression), Deaf Time
(if you only have time for one link, this is the one), Aloha Time
, and Arab Time
Also Germanic grandparent time (arrive early and watch the Arab-American daughter-in-law (aka my mom) run around trying to get ready for the party).
As well as government time, business time, and medical appointment time. The latter I have yet to figure out, no matter where in the world I am.
Plus being “fashionably late” – an practice that one of my progeny has mastered this summer. Its companion practice is the art of Making An Entrance.
Unlike some places, where more rigid boundaries exist between monochronic and polychromic time, Albuquerqueans live with multiple ways of understanding time. Some of us do this with more ease than others.
So how do we in Albuquerque approach time? We live in a place where monochronic and polychronic time
meet – perhaps this is why one of the forefathers
of cross-cultural communication just happened to spend his formative years in New Mexico, but I suspect each of us can recall an instance of polychronic/monochronic time clash in the recent past.
In certain settings monochronic time is the rule of the land. Students are expected to show up for class on time, and business appointments are expected to begin promptly at the stated time.
Or are they?
In Albuquerque’s schools, students are expected to show up by the announced starting time. (Let me know if your experience differs). Yet I have been to business meetings in subcultures of Albuquerque where it is an unspoken understanding that the actual start time of the meetings will be 15-20 minutes from the announced start time and (this is important) it is not considered rude to arrive anywhere in that 15-20 minute window
In other business settings - most often in business where mainstream American business culture is dominant - punctuality is defined as arriving at the stated time; lateness is considered rude.
In some social settings, arriving at the announced time is not only unexpected, but considered extremely rude.
Locals know that Feast Day festivities and seasonal dances happen in their own time – starting when ready and ending when done.
Those of us who inhabit the signing Deaf community are familiar with a loosely defined social start time, and a lengthy goodbye. (It is expected that you will say goodbye to everyone present at the gathering and engage in some small bit of conversation before leave-taking.) My children’s response to my exhortations to “Get ready to go, we’ll be leaving soon!” were always met with sideways snarky whispers of “Yeah, 'soon' as in TWOOOOOOOO hours,” plus exaggerated sighs and rolled eyes while saying to each other “Deaf time…”
Given the potential for chronic misunderstanding in Albuquerque, it is surprising this topic doesn’t come up more often.
I have two thoughts about this. First, it could be that those of us who have internalized these different modes of being in and on time just don’t have a need to discuss it. Second, maybe some of us spend almost all of our time in one kind of time
and not another
Alas, I must leave the land of bloggerly Csikszentmihalyian flow
and return to the world of time as limited resource.
Time is running out and I have much to do.