As I found myself just missing half hourly buses two days in a row, I grabbed a pensive moment to question how would life be without clocks?
Fast forward through this thought process, I ask myself how do I balance personal and social needs. (In other words, how do I respect myself and others.)
When it comes to time, I’ve found that different cultures understand time very differently. In Scandinavia, time is a precise measurement that must be respected as diligently as principles of physics in building a bridge. In Sweden the land of engineers, a doctor’s appointment starts and ends on time. In New York, I’m accustomed to doctor’s appoints running 10 minutes to 2 hours late, either due to my timing or the doctor’s. I don’t know how doctor’s appointment run in South America, but I heard my friend’s experience of arriving at a birthday party 30 minutes after the time on the invitation and finding herself to be 2 hours earlier than expected.
In this moment, I’m in a hotel in Amsterdam waiting for the courtesy bus to take me to the airport. The waiter kindly asked me if he should request that the driver wait for me. Coming from the Swedish culture now, I connected with my duty as an individual to conform to the established time. I told him that I ll take the next bus in a half hour.
Perhaps in Amsterdam bending the rules to adjust to the individual would be OK.
As I return to New York, I’ve already prepared myself with a packed schedule that will insist on others bending their time to meet my needs. Reality may insist that I adjust my needs for others.
Here comes the dance of respecting self and others American style.