Why are Chinese people often late for meetings and appointments? It doesn’t really make sense if you look at their education system? Having such strict educational methods in schools, I don’t think kids dare to come to class late (will they even be let in?). Is it instead so that since they are always in time when they are kids, they make up for that by being late as adults?!
For me (and many people that I know) it was the opposite way around. I was a pretty good kid, but a rebel teenager. I often came late to class. In high school, I had no what-so-ever time management when it came to catching the bus each morning to school (it was a 40 min bus ride, so I kind of had to be on time otherwise I would be very late for class). I’ve given my poor folks so much headache over the years, running down the stairs every the morning, yelling for dad that he needed to give me a ride to the bus (I lived about a 15 min bike ride from the bus stop too, so my non-existent time management skills were not really making matters easy for anyone), having him sometimes refusing, and sometimes giving in. One of my friends, Mia, was a tad bit worse. She always missed the bus. As a result, her dad had to take her in a car and ride behind the bus, and then hopefully manage to overtake it, speed for a bit, and drop her off before the bus hit the next bus stop. Mia and I also played in the same basketball team, and every time we had a game our coach used to tell her that it started 1 hour before it actually did. That was, she would miss the warm-up, but at least be in time for the first half.
Now, as a “grownup” (well at least I do try very hard to fit into that category) I am hardly never late for meetings or appointments. I often think that I will be, and therefore I often send an apologetic text message, just in case, but then I’m often the first one to arrive. I have become much better at time management, so even though I think that the 20 min I have given myself to get somewhere isn’t enough –it often is. And it feels kind of good. I don’t like being late for things.
But some of my Chinese friends… Geeez, it’s almost getting to the point where I am getting annoyed. Take the other day for instance. I was stressing like a maniac to run from the yoga club to a restaurant where I was meeting some friends (mixed nationalities) at 7.30pm (my yoga class finised around 6.50pm, and I needed a shower). I thought I was going to be a bit late, so I sms:ed one of the girls just in case. Still, I managed to be there at 7.25pm. I called my Chinese girlfriend to ask how many people were coming and how big of a table we needed. When she picked up she sounded rather surprised when I said I was already at the restaurant. I could hear from the non-existent background noise that she was still at home. Still, she didn’t say anything about being late or so. The other ones dropped in at 7.30…. and then we had to wait until 8pm for our Chinese friend to come. She barely noticed herself that she was late. How is it possible?!