On Poetry and Culture Shock

In Seville, time is elastic

I guess this also happens in other parts of Spain. I have only lived in Seville, so this applies to Seville.

Meeting friends does not happen at a certain hour. You just don’t say “five at such café”. The correct (yes, not "usual": correct) way of making arrangements is to make a half-hour bracket. “I’ll see you at seven to seven thirty”. “I can make it at six thirty to seven”. No one blinks. Spanish good manners say that unpunctuality starts ten to fifteen minutes after the appointed time, so if you said you’d be there at seven-to-seven thirty, no one can complain if you get to the place at 7.40. The fifteen-minute rule does not mean that Spaniards are unpunctual as a rule: people are as much or as little as everyone else in the rest of the world, but it is rude to give latecomers less than a fifteen-minute wait.

That means that when a group of people is going to meet in a public place, everyone who will arrive on their own will try to be there as late as possible without being rude, so that they will not have to be just waiting there, alone. I’m a reasonably punctual person; if I say I’ll meet you at “five to five thirty” you won’t see me there before 5:10. We only do this when meeting socially in situations where we don’t mind waiting. For example, if one friend and I are going out for dinner, we’ll be punctual because making someone else wait alone isn’t nice. The only remotely similar thing I’ve ever seen is the very relaxed attitude some Scottish people have when they go to pubs. I’ve gone out in groups in which some people, especially the men, said “we’ll be at the pub at four”, not expecting anyone else to say at what hour they’d be there. They got there early and got a table for the group, and didn’t care much how long they’d have to wait for the others.

Having said that, I don't think Spaniards are impunctual. In Scotland, Ireland, Spain and and the US I have met big communities of international people (mostly students). The only person I have ever met who made a point of strict punctuality was German.

1 comentario

bolo -

Gracias por tu visita, yo creo haber entendido tu texto aunque mi inglés roza meramente lo profesional, iré aprendiendo contigo

un saludo y feliz fin de semana