South Africa 2008 - African Math and Just Now
I've decided the one thing I just will never get used to is the (relative) inaccuracy used in numbers around here. This is likely because I'm an American, but more likely that I'm a programmer. Could be a little of both.
There's the lateness thing, first. The level of relaxation, nay, apathy, around being somewhere on time is driving me batsh*t crazy. Seriously. If someone says to be out the door at 10am, and 2:30pm finds you getting into your car, you've got a problem. How hard is it to stand up, pick up your keys, get in your car and drive away.
I can get up from a dead sleep, shower and be in the car in 15 minutes. I'm lucky if this house is out the door by 1 or 2 in the afternoon. I was up at 8am this morning. These people didn't get in the car until 3:15pm to do the day's errands. Really.
At first I thought it was just basic lateness as many folks around here talk about African Time. Actually, most non-Western, even non-American groups, I have found to be really chill about time. But around here, it's out of control.
And not just time. All numbers. Here's some actual examples just from today.
How far is it?
Maybe 15 minutes. Like 7k.
Actual Time/Distance: 65 minutes and 50k.
How long will it take?
Really, 2 hours tops.
Actual Time: 4.5 hours.
When will he be waiting?
Actual Time: 1:30pm
How many people are coming?
Like, maybe 20.
Actual Count: 55 and uncounted children.
How much petrol (gas) do we have?
We're totally cool. Piles. Really.
Actual Gas: Turns out "E" doesn't mean enough.
When do they close?
They're always open. Maybe they close at 8 or 9. It varies, they are flexible.
Actual Closing Time: 6pm sharp. Doors close, and metal walls slam shut hiding the building.
It's so bad it's comical. I can't write this stuff. It'll be a sweet wondrous miracle if we don't miss our plane home. The scary part is that I had to lie and say it's an hour earlier than it is, and that still might not be enough. I may need to say it's another day.
(Yes, I realize I'm in another country, Yes, I realize I'm time obsessed, Yes, I know I need to be tolerate, yada yada yada. Still, I reserve the right to ridicule the culture I've married into and I reserve the right to tell my wife things like "and this is why your continent is screwed up." It's all in good fun, so poop on you. ;P )