Closed Doors? Not for late-comers!

Closed Doors? Not for late-comers!

One thing I love about Mexican culture is that it is totally accepted, and often expected, that you will show up late. To a party, to a meeting, to work, to a gathering or get-together … it really doesn’t matter. Everyone shows up late. Late can mean 10 minutes, which is a standard minimum, or it can stretch to more than an hour, which is often the case for social gatherings.

I have selectively adapted to this practice, and I love it. Well, maybe it´s not adaptation so much as acceptance of a trait I already possess. I have always been a late person. (I believe people are born with internal clocks set to arrive early, be there on time, or show up late – I fall into the latter group.) So now that I live in a culture that accepts my lateness, I feel more free to be who I truly am. Late.

In the US, many people are also late. (My dad, for instance, is a habitually late person – I am sure I inherited this trait from him.) But in a land that takes many cultural traits from the strict and timely Germans, it is just not socially accepted. And often people actually get annoyed and angry with those who arrive late. (Imagine!) I like to refer to these people as late-haters. (You know who you are … perhaps you should take up Sudoku so you can keep yourself occupied while waiting.)

Luckily, in Mexico, even among gringos, it is totally cool to arrive after the specified time. In fact, I have observed that foreigners are actually some of the worst culprits of the late phenomenon. Are we all just reveling in the newfound social acceptance for a characteristic that we secretly love? Does Latin America specifically attract people whose internal clocks are set to slow time? Or do people adopt the practice once they arrive and get frustrated when they have to wait forever for others to show up, or find themselves in awkward situations as the first guests to a party with a host they barely know? In my case, I finally feel free to be the late person I always was. So there you have it — a good thing about living in Mexico! (After my last post I feel the need to proactively seek out positive aspects of Mexico, as I am here for at least another year or so … )