As I have written about previously, when I was living in Mexico City, I frequently had a difficult time understanding their concepts of elastic time and what is considered polite. And just this weekend, I had another example of it from a friend of mine who is visiting New York this weekend. Last time he was in New York, I found out about it on facebook and told him I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see each other. Perhaps not wanting to get caught out again in the same way, this time he told me (one day in advance) he was coming to New York, and we made plans to have brunch today. He told me he would call me to setup the details (why calling instead of email I don’t know, but no big deal). And yesterday, I got a call from a florida number that was apparently his, but when I picked up the phone, I could not hear anything on the other end, so I hung up. They called back and I let it go to voicemail, but there was no message, so I assumed it was a wrong number. Many hours later I get an email from my friend telling me he tried to reach me but was unable to, and that he would call me again today so that he could “at least hear my voice on the phone”. I responded with details about the phone problems and asked if we were still on for brunch. Two hours after that, I got another message from him about his phone calling again, but ignoring my question about brunch, so I asked it again. I didn’t hear back from him, so I sent one more this morning when I woke up, and then received a message from him telling me he had made other plans, but would try to call me.
I have to admit, this whole scenario pushes my buttons about planning things while I lived in Mexico City. I feel like my friend never really intended to have brunch with me, but felt it was more “polite” to make fake plans and then pretend we couldn’t keep them, rather than just saying up front that yes, he was coming to New York (sure that I would see that on facebook) but no, didn’t really have the time to see me. I would have much preferred that version to making plans (to satisfy the Mexico City idea of being “polite”) and then being stood up. It is not “polite” in my book to waste other people’s time.