South African Sense of Time.

by biltong101

clockMy mom taught me that being late is a sign of disrespect and that was something I believed most of my life. I used to be always on time and usually ten minutes in advance. Then I spent some time in Italy and learnt that being late only means being late 15 minutes after the initial time of the appointment. It was annoying but still, it was a rule. I like rules. When I moved to South Africa I expected many things, among others, to be murdered, to be too scared to leave home or to get overwhelmed by the experience and go back to Poland after a week. I certainly didn’t expect to be constantly irritated by late people (people who aren’t on time, dead people usually don’t irritate me). South Africans are Late all the time. Fifteen minutes, half an hour, an hour (most of them will let you know if it’s more than 15 minutes, though). When a South African says he or she is going to be somewhere “now” it usually means a period of time between 10 minutes and an hour. There’s also a “now now” which is more tricky as it can mean pretty much anything. “See you later” sometimes means seeing someone later that day but often postpones the later indefinitely. There’s also the magical “ish” which one uses to let other people know that they’ll be somewhere sometime after certain hour. South Africans are horrible at timing but I’m afraid I have a love-hate relationship with their lateness. It drives me crazy sometimes, but at the same time it’s sort of cute. Besides, there are places in South Africa where time actually matters and those places are called clubs and pubs. Happy hour finishing at 7 o’clock finishes at 7 o’clock and don’t count on avoiding paying the cover charge if you appear in a club two minutes after 10 o’clock on a ladies’ night.