Monday, 24 June 2019

Your mañana culture has been good for me!

For decades I’d hitch everywhere. I hitched to the pub and school and friends’ houses.

When those friends became scattered around the country in various universities, I thought nothing of hitching to Bradford, Exeter, Oxford and Hull.

During teenage Summers, I’d hitch all over Europe. At 19 I hitched to Israel and then ventured further afield, hitching in New Zealand and Australia in my 20s

Adopting a philosophy that allowed no ill will to those who did not stop, I made the process pleasurable.

Why would anyone stop to pick up a complete stranger?

I poured scorn on those who swore and raged at each passing car.
Why choose such an angry path?

In the middle of absolutely nowhere for hours, I’d stand by the side of a road, enjoying a view that, quite possibly, nobody else had ever seen from that particular perspective.

Eventually a car would stop, but for as long as it took I’d wait, loving my place in the world.

As a result, I learned the power of patience. Even as I hear the scornful snorts of many out there who have encountered me as the opposite, I consider myself a patient man.

Just as well, as the West of Ireland’s mañana culture can be testing. Yet In many ways your laxity of punctuality has been good for me.

Being an anal retentive control freak raised in a Protestant country, I still arrive early for every appointment, but since moving here 27 years ago, I’ve become much more relaxed about making plans to see friends.

Thankfully in this Twittery age of instant gratification, rushing and immediacy, the people of the West of Ireland still become instantly and absolutely terrified when asked to make a firm social arrangement.

Such piercing and intimidating questions as: “Fancy a coffee next Tuesday afternoon?” are met with stretched wide eyes, while just the slightest hint of sweat breaks out on the Galwegian’s upper lip.

“Sounds good, yeh, let’s see how she’s hangin’ …” they fluff and mumble in return, and that’s fine, because here in the West of Ireland our social lives happen to us.

Unlike those who live in intensely populated areas of the world, Galwegians are so incredibly likely to bump into somebody they know, they just allow that coming together to happen and then enjoy it.

This amorphous social melding has served my soul well, helping me to relax, to trust spontaneity and chance.

Sadly however, when applied to business, Connacht’s creative interpretation of time drives me doolally.

I’m sitting in The Quays, as I’ve an appointment to meet somebody at 12. They asked for the meeting, and while I don’t know precisely what they want, I know for certain two things: the work will involve the use of my writing and editing skills, and I won’t be getting paid for it.

Given the individual involved, both of those conditions are fine.

In a slightly hippy-dippy way, I quite like doing the many unpaid jobs that others ask me to. Just as well really, as freebies are part of the deal for Ireland’s creatives.

It’d take me a lifetime to draw a leaf, but I’m able to edit in 40 minutes what might take others days.

As well as the simple pleasure I feel from helping others, I’ve put something out there which will one day return in benign manifestation.

Ah come on now, with all yer fancy syllables.
There’s no need for that at all.

Ye lads put it most succinctly: what goes around comes around.

Now it’s 12:25, and I’m still sitting in the pub, waiting for this person to arrive. They have my mobile number, yet have neither called nor texted.

Had I been sitting in that pub with no agenda, I'd have enjoyed doing nothing more profound than spend hours spacing out, staring at the whiskies on the top shelf … the crack in the wall … anything …

Instead I sit upright in Business Mode, alert and ready to listen, aware of each passing minute.

At 13:14 I give up and leave.

Taking the proverbial.

Part of me envies your ability to apply leisurely timeframes to your working days. When my presence has been requested, I find it challenging to wait for a requester who is extravagantly late, or like today, just doesn’t turn up at all.

I talk to many others who run their own small businesses, and the one thing that drives us all crazy is people's inability to commit to a time.

We’re ready and eager to crack on, build, create, do the job, but we have learned to let go, because often in the West of Ireland when somebody says Tuesday, they mean November.

I cannot think of how many local service people I have called who are unwilling to work during that period of time several million global residents describe as ‘the working week.’

They insist they can only call me back after 7pm, and if they can do the job, which they're not sure they can, it'd have to be at the weekend.

My patience crumbles into dust. There’s a point where this laid back ‘Jamaicans of Europe’ culture (no offence to Jamaicans, that’s just what the Irish call themselves) creates a workforce overcome with lethargy, where people prefer to procrastinate, rather than accept your business.

Or they call you, ask you to meet them, and don't turn up.

Thankfully life exists beyond business, so I willingly embrace your relaxed timekeeping, as it’s admirably lacking in materialistic ambition, and travels alongside a surprising social life.

©Charlie Adley

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