I’ve learned a great deal by living in several different places. I’ve observed differences in how people can view something so differently from country to country, even from town to town. For example, I am fascinated by the different approach people from different places take in their perception of time. As a Swiss girl, I’m used to being on time. When I have an appointment at 8 o’clock, I’ll be there at 7:59. It’s just the way I am. And my fellow Swiss are pretty much the same. Perhaps that's because we come from the watch capital of the world.
I learned the hard way when I was in France, that others do not view time the way the Swiss do. I was meeting up with some French friends and the first time we met, I waited almost 30 minutes for them to arrive. I quickly found out that in France when you agree to meet at 8, it really means 8:30 (if you are lucky that is!). For next time, if I want to meet at 8, I will tell them to be there at 7:20. In Paris, I learned that when you are invited to someone’s home, you shouldn’t arrive on time (at least on time Swiss style) because the host may be not ready setting up for dinner or even be dressed yet. I will remember that for the future!
Here’s another example, far from my home country. A friend from Saudi-Arabia told me when they have a meeting at their company, most of the employees are not on time. This is the standard. On the other hand, if they have an "important meeting", it is understood you are expected to be there on time. They actually call that kind of important meeting a Swiss meeting.
Earlier this year I lived in San Diego. Everything about that city seems relaxed and a bit “sleepy.” Nobody is in a rush; they are very kind and always at ease. They are also like that on the road and the driving is comfortable and stress-free. You cannot say that about New York City. Here, as Benjamin Franklin once said in "Advice to a Young Tradesman," time is money. For example, the taxi drivers in NYC all drive like maniacs. I think it’s because the faster they drive, the more customers they can have, and thus make more money.
New York is clearly the city of closing deals and making money. To me, New York appears overly busy and people seem a bit rude but that’s the way it is. New Yorkers don’t want to waste time or money. Right now there is a new fascinating gadget on the market called the “Bring TIM” (time is money). It is an office clock that shows how much money a meeting costs. You enter the number of people in the room and what they could charge per hour of their time and the clock estimates the “price” of the meeting. I assume after one meeting of using this funny clock, no one wants to have a long meeting anymore. It’s the perfect addition for every New Yorker’s office.
The value of time and how it is communicated to others is different all over the world. After experiencing some of the different approaches to the use of time, I think it’s important to just stand still for a minute and observe the local attitude towards time. Especially when you are not in your home town.