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, C.P.T. (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.

Do you?

Views: 13

Tags: cross_culture, time

Comment by ramon t on August 23, 2010 at 1:39pm
In my own little world...if I am 5 minutes early I am late.
Comment by Ben Moffett on August 23, 2010 at 1:45pm
I always like to be the first one there. I don't want to put anyone out of the way by being late..
Comment by mombat on August 23, 2010 at 2:14pm
This is an ongoing discussion at our house. We have time designations for specific friends and family members.
I hate to be late, must be the German Gramie, my kids are the same way. Although, due to frequent dawdling, we do end up late sometimes. Perhaps, mastering the art of Making an Entrance should be our next family project.
Comment by Barelas Babe on August 23, 2010 at 2:25pm
@Mombat - you can probably guess which member of my family can help you with this! ;)
Comment by Krista on August 23, 2010 at 3:14pm
"Professionally" and with small groups, I strive for the five minutes early (my parents are never late), but to a large group or party--it's the worst to be the first one there!! I like this discussion! Best of luck with your 12 hour seminar! ;)
Comment by Barelas Babe on August 23, 2010 at 3:17pm
Actually it is an instantaneous seminar - it starts and ends at the same time!
Comment by Ron Da Bomb on August 23, 2010 at 4:30pm
My son quotes Mr. Sanks, his Marching Band Director: "To be early is to be on time. To be on time is to be late. To be late is unacceptable."
Comment by Lahjik on August 23, 2010 at 4:52pm
When I lived in Albuquerqu and Santa Fe as a sales rep, I not only made a point of being on time, but did my best to be early. I had many customers that would lose large sums of money ($50,00/day) if they fell behind and if I contributed to that it would have meant I lost the customer at the very least. That lead to an odd dichotomy in which I had to be early but many of the vendors, etc. I relied on lived very heavily in tomorrow. Needless to say, it drove me freakin' NUTS!! Now I live out of state and work for the Army as a contractor and 5min early is 10min late. I went to an offsite meeting this morning, arriving about 10min early only to run into my department head who was already getting things rolling, so I guess 10min early is still a bit late. Maybe my department runs on ayerstandard time?
Comment by Adelita on August 23, 2010 at 4:55pm
My mother was always 1/2 hour EARLY to any event. It has been drilled into me since I was little, so now when I am actually on time, I feel like I'm late. And believe me when I tell you I get anxiety attacks because my boyfriend always runs late for everything. This is funny because I am the local, from the land of manana and he is the big city boy from Chicago. He adapted to Burque time really well!
Comment by Ron Da Bomb on August 23, 2010 at 5:05pm
@Lita, I hear ya. While I've always been punctual by nature, my girlfriend has what can best be described as a casual relationship with time.

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