Today’s column addresses the disconnect between an American woman and her Brazilian friends, who often “cancel plans at the last minute, for reasons that surely could have been foreseen.” They, and her Brazilian husband, all claim that this is typical Brazilian behavior.
Different cultures do have different relationships to time. Shortly after I wrote this column, I read the intensely interesting Beyond 9 to 5: Your Life in Time by Sarah Norgate. Norgate cites another researcher’s experience in Brazil:
In another anecdote [author of Geography of Time Robert] Levine talks about his visiting professorship to Brazil, where he was puzzled that only a few students turned up for the start of his first lecture. Over the course of the “scheduled” two hours, the students walked in, smiled, said hello, sat down and carried on settling in apparently as normal. No one tried to creep in or saw the need to offer an apology; they just came to the lecture when they were good and ready. Punctuality was of no concern; instead the overriding ethos was time’s flexibility–also known as “rubber” time.
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