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Punctuality: Gringos and Ecuadorians have a different perception of being ‘on time’

By Deke Castleman

The concept of punctuality is one distinct example of the differences between the Ecuadorian and North American cultures.

Most expats tend to be compulsively prompt and even, by Latin American standards, ridiculously early. Ecuadorians, by contrast, are much looser about being “on time.”

A couple years ago, a big event for expats was held at a Cuenca tour-and-travel business. The American helpers informed the owner and his staff that the event had to be ready no later than 5 p.m. for the 5:30 start time, stressing that the gringos would start showing up about a half-hour early. The Ecuadorians didn’t — couldn’t — believe it and wanted to know why. The explanation: Some people would want to be among the first to arrive in order to hang out awhile before the event with the other early-birds, or to claim a good seat, or to get the first go at the refreshments. The staff thought this was impossible — until five o’clock rolled around and here came the gringos.

At the one-hour private Spanish lesson of a long-time expat, the gringo with the next-hour’s appointment always showed up 10 to 20 minutes early and it always cracked up his teacher.

Sylvan Hardy was the best man at the Cuenca wedding of an old friend, so he had to show up to the ceremony with plenty of time to spare. Another gringo friend, also invited to the wedding with his Ecuadorian girlfriend, offered Sylvan a ride. Sylvan knew better than to take the chance of being late while he waited for the girlfriend to get ready, so he took a cab. As it turned out, Sylvan’s friend and the girlfriend finally showed up — an hour after the ceremony had ended.

When gringos’ appointments or social dates are with other gringos, there’s no uncertainty or cross-cultural confusion. We Norte Americanos are simply wired for promptness. But it gets fuzzy when Ecuadorians are involved in gringo events or gringos are involved in Ecuadorian events.

Latinos often find gringos’ “on-timeness” amusing.

Here in the Andes, it’s not as bad, we’re told, as in other places in Ecuador, such as the coast and jungle. In Cuenca, people have a reputation for being formal, polite, and — yes — punctual, though this on-timeness is mainly centered around business appointments.

Socially, it’s a different story. Even when the established time is for something that gringos usually consider important, like when lunch or dinner at a host’s home will be served, Ecuadorians often arrive “late.” While gringos are there “on time,” they often find themselves sitting around for an hour or more, having cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, while the Ecuadorians filter in. The meal, thus, though it might be ready at the appointed time, might not be served until two hours afterwards. Sometimes, when gringos arrive “on time,” they find their hosts just getting up from a nap, stepping out of the shower, or not even home.

In the Ecuadorian culture, whenever something happens is when it happens, no matter what the invitation might have said or what time appears on the clock. This can cause stress and embarrassment for people wired for promptness. Some people take years to adjust — if they ever do. It’s a very hard habit to break.

Expats with a built-in sense of promptness  tend to allow plenty of time to make it to appointments. We justify it to ourselves as the vagaries of the bus schedules (though we know that, even on Sundays, the buses are rarely more than 10 minutes apart) or the uncertainty of walking times (though we know that once the bus drops us off, we’re rarely more than a few minutes from the destination).

And if our timing is a little off and we’re actually running behind, we feel noticeably pressured, even if we’re just a few minutes late. Indeed, many of us still set our alarm clocks and watches a little ahead to provide a promptness cushion.

Perhaps if there weren’t so many gringos around, we could adapt to the attitude of Ecuadorians about time. After all, what’s the hurry? Really, what’s the difference between showing up at 3 o’clock or 3:15 or even 3:30? To us, Ecuadorians seem to experience less time pressure, less stress, more awareness of the present, more life in the flow of now.

If an Ecuadorian is running a little late for an appointment, chances are the person with whom he or she is meeting is late too. And if one of them has to wait a little while, así es (which means, “that’s the way it is,” a common and useful expression around here). Business gets done. Socializing happens. Meals are consumed. The world keeps turning. Life goes on.

After all, this is a culture that takes two-hour lunches. Isn’t that eminently civilized? Many stores close in the afternoon, typically from one to three p.m. No one’s eating at their desks while they work. No one wolfs down fast food between customers. There’s plenty of time to sit, eat slowly and breathe, relax, enjoy the other people at the table, digest, and get back to work without having a stroke. Many even go home to have lunch with the spouse, children, parents, etc.

By contrast, a half-hour midday break to eat, with the tyranny of a time clock or a taskmaster standing there tapping his watch at 31 minutes? Inhuman! But as gringos, we’re so used to the concept that we don’t even question the ridiculousness  of it.

A sidelight: Even though it’s a gringo conceit that being on time represents some sort of universal social correctness, it wasn’t until the 1870s and 1880s that North Americans and Europeans began to adopt their on-time attitude. The railroads, needing to establish reliable cross-country and cross-continent schedules, forced the issue. Before then, individual towns and cities kept their own time zones and, research shows, the concept of time was much as it remains today in Latin America.

Article is reposted from 2014.

64 thoughts on “Punctuality: Gringos and Ecuadorians have a different perception of being ‘on time’

  1. The cultural time difference has been the most difficult thing for me to adjust to. It’s one thing to intellectually “know” it exists and quite another to deal with. For example, I often invite my local friends to dinner in my home. I spend a lot of time preparing everything so that the different items I’m serving will be ready at the same time… when my friends eventually show up, an hour later, some of the items are not fit to eat after sitting for an hour. I thought I’d solve this problem by taking my friends out to eat at one of the many local restaurants. When they showed up and hour and thirty minutes late, the restaurant had just closed for the night. We ended up eating tuna salad sandwiches at my place as a result. The only thing that has worked for me is to ask them to be at my place two hours before I actually planed to serve dinner… even then, they were fifteen minutes late… nothing seems to make them care about being on time.

    Gary T, Cotacachi

  2. As someone who spent her life being “late” – except turning up for nursing shifts, when being 30 seconds late was treated like a major crime – I feel I’ve finally found my “time niche”. No longer checking the watch to see that I spent a little too long reading something, or didn’t time one event quite right and now am “running late”, finally, I can just shrug and mutter “c’est la vie”, which comes a little more naturally to me just now !!
    It’s a sort of bliss. Way to go.

  3. It is a sign of disrespect to not show up on time. I have traveled to many central and South American country’s and only here have a run into this total disregard for time. If I have a dinner party that is suppose to start a 7 p.m. then I start at 7 p.m. if the locals show up at 8 the they lose out.

  4. What about the schools? They must operate with no punctuality rules also. So it must be no problem if the students, the teachers, the administrators, and other employes show up when they feel like it, or it’s convenient for them. If that is the example that is set by the schools, it’s no wonder that it takes so long to get anything done here. That is what the children are taught.

  5. and then there is the story about an expat family that threw a birthday party for their daughter who invited an Ecuadorian friend only to have her show up 2 hours after the ‘start time’ and find the birthday party was already over…as some expats might say, you lose : )

  6. When I lived in Puerto Rico I told the Gringos the right time for an event and made it one hour earlier for the Puerto Ricans, who would then be maybe 15 to 30 minutes after the designated time. It worked well.

  7. It’s a lot healthier not to let the clock rule your life. I think that most westerners believe that they receive some kind of eternal reward for never arriving after the appointed time.

  8. It is like my Ecuadorian attorney was taught by his Ecuadorian teacher: “you are wasting someone’s time by being late”. Seems like common sense to me. I of course go with the culture here by find it an interesting concept. These days I am able to call my own schedule but if I was running a business here it would be an issue.

  9. I think being punctual is a sign of respect for the other persons time, therefore the lack of punctuality seems very disrespectful.

  10. Interesting, but among my Ecuadorian friends and associates here in Quito everyone is on time. Maybe they can teach the Cuencanos something.

  11. Even Cuencanos complain about this problem: during a Christmas Eve family party at my neighbor’s house, some family members showed up an hour-and-half late for dinner (at 10:30 P.M.!), causing one member to whisper to me “I love my country, but HATE this bad habit of ours!”.

  12. My ex husband is Ecuadorian. He was NEVER late, not in Canada nor in Ecuador. Even knowing full well that we would be the only ones on time he insisted on arriving with eery punctuality at the time stated.

    Many is the time that we interrupted someone shaving or woke someone from their nap just as stated in the article.

    I tried to tell people to come at least an hour to an hour and a half before we actually expected them and that helped a lot when we were the hosts.

    But like they say…it is all part of the many adjustments you have to make when you leave familiar surroundings.

    1. I had two Twainese friends (sisters) we were invited to the first one’s wedding, which was on time. Then the reception was five hours later at a high end place that was for the reception dinner. We sat there at our designated table for way over an hour with another Caucasian couple.But they didn’t even offer anything prior. It was worth the wait. The second wedding included five hundred people for a sit down dinner. By then they were much more intuned. Also, very much worth the wait. Unbelievable food n champagne!!

  13. I have to say I agree its a sign of disrespect, and frankly self centered,, you generally do not see it with business appointments, but with many other engagements. This seems to be Cuencano culture and although I can accept it, and deal with it, I would not go out of my way to make alternate plans based on someone else’s lack of courtesy

  14. At my son’s high school in Quiroga (near Cotacachi), if you are late you will find that the gate has
    been locked. Also, every time we have a mandatory parents’ meeting (about once a month) we are reminded that the kids need to get to school on time.

  15. I love the easy pace of life in Cuenca. So time is not so important. Every culture and country has its “ways” of doing things. Enjoy and appreciate!

  16. My husband is notoriously on time or early. Our Ecuadorian friends now know to give us a different arrival time than other guests.. llike an 1-1.5 hr later arrival. it all works, they are not surprised in their showers and We are not sitting around waiting for the event to being. 🙂

  17. I have adopted my own mechanism to deal with these things: Apparently Cuencano only feel the universe revolves around them. They will do as they please, when they please and, sometimes comically, how they please. I show up an automatic 45 minutes after the Ecuadorean time and bring my kindle. I work on the assumption that business and gov offices will not be open so I am pleasantly surprised that they are, at least, open. Service within is entirely another culture clash. I choose not to participate. I always have a plan B…..and the kindle.

  18. I have heard more than one Ecuadorian complain about the disregard for being punctual. These same Ecuadorians consider it disrespectful. So not all Ecuadorians are chronically late, just most. I have found the best way to treat the difference is adjust to it. If you would like to meet someone at 4:00 P.M., tell them 3:00 P.M. If they tell you a certian time, get there an hour later. Then there are occasions where punctuality reigns here as well. Banks, sporting events, flights, most busses, movies, concerts are usually pretty close to being on time.

    When I lived in Costa Rica, the locals had an expression for telling someone that the agreed to time was to be honored, they called it ” hora del gringo “. So the Latinos are generally aware of our penchant for punctuality, not that it changes their behavior much.

  19. Comparisons are generally fraught w/challenges especially if there is an intrinsic bias in the observer. In this case, unfortunately, this bias is evident in the first sentence when it states that gringos are “compulsively” prompt, using a negative psychological term. The writer goes on to say that it is “a habit”, again something not without a negative connotation. The comparison between a 2-hour lunch with the l/2-one is not only a generalized inaccuracy, it is deceptively prejudiced. The writer ends calling the culture here as “eminently civilized”….yikes!

    I agree that I am in immigrant to this culture and to live harmoniously, must look at living within the cultural norms, as well as question my own perhaps uninvestigated values so that they don’t act as an overlay for judgment.

    In regard to this topic and the article, I am sorry to see that the same bias was written into a comparison describing the legal system here vs that in the US regarding traffic and pedestrian problems. Usually w/any article, the writer’s name and credentials are provided. Here the writer in both instances is faceless.

    Let’s join together to find a shared connection, rather than perpetuate a division. Immigrants or individuals w/different values, faith, caste, color are easy targets…currently evident in our world today and, sadly, throughout humanity’s history.

  20. The Cuenca Symphony Orchestra has a habit of starting their concerts punctually on time, without fail. Last week, however, there was a concert to honour the army and celebrate the battle of Tarqui. A good 40% of the seats were reserved for officers of the III Division Tarqui and the military was clearly co-hosting this event, with many burly MP’s overseeing the auditorium. All the civilians (expats and Ecuadorians alike) were promptly on time and in place. The concert started 25 minutes late and many officers wandered into the auditorium, as much as a good 30 minutes after the (late) start of the concert. This really made me wonder about military punctuality of the army… During my years as a conscript in armed forces in a Western country I learned: Colonel’s time is 5 minutes early… Vive la difference…

  21. In such situations I make sure all the invited guests are confirmed to be at whatever event at a defined time. I let them know that the event will start on time. Once said I leave it at that. Be there on time or miss out. No need to belabor the point.

  22. dj – google “do the french show up on time for dinner invitations”. you’ll find that the French don’t have respect for “on time” either and I’m guessing you’d consider France “sophisticated”. as for here, I think there have been enough articles and blogs to let a person know time is not relevant for many occasions, and travelers should already be aware of it. this is Ecuador, don’t bring your rules to their country.

  23. I guess some of us were just raised with different values. For my dad, integrity was a simple matter. All it meant was doing what you would say you would do, when you said you would do it. Dad died when he was 88 and to the best of my knowledge, he was never late for an appointment, even for emergencies. He believed that emergencies were just events that you should have planned for as a contingency. He also taught me that it was better that I show up an hour early to keep a date on time, than the person with whom I had the date having to wait one minute for me. Thus, I view Ecuadorian lack of promptness as being a lack of integrity, just as their chronic spousal infidelity.

    The first newbie gringo that tells this Ecuadorian citizen (ME) that it is their country, will receive my disdain, if this publication allows it to be published.

    Kenneth A. Merena Ph.D.

  24. My wife and I were invited to a wedding reception, which we were told would start at 7:00 p.m. We arrived at about 7:30, which we hoped was about right. The bride and groom arrived at 9:30, just as we were headed out the door. We wished them well and went on our way.

    As we have gotten to know people here, we pretty well know who is going to be on time, and who is going to run late (or very late), and make our plans on that basis. At the same time, we have pretty much learned to not stress about the differences. If someone arrives late, and misses dinner, or gets only leftovers, we don’t feel guilty about it. If we are invited to a friend’s house, and we know other Ecuadorians are also coming, we usually call the hosts and ask them what time they would really like us to show up. They know us well enough to know that we will be there when they say, and give us a realistic arrival time. This is still usually ahead of the majority of the natives, but at least we don’t catch them in the shower.

    There are still situations where I find myself getting annoyed, but upon reflection, it is usually with myself, for expecting punctuality when I should know better. The advice to carry a Kindle or book is good, or if I am there for a professional appointment, and I can see that things are running late, I will simply tell the secretary or receptionist that I need to leave, and will reschedule for another day.

    I love the culture and the people, but part of that is being willing to accept those things that I have no hope of changing, even if they are annoying. I know that I annoy individuals at times when I go ahead and behave in the fashion that I perceive as right or comfortable, but I figure that to some degree, they need to adapt to me, even as in so many ways I adapt to them. I hope the mix is more positive than negative.

  25. It does take time to adjust, but yes, foreigners can adjust. Stressful living with old-life time barriers is probably one of the reasons they enjoy Ecuador–and don’t even know it.

  26. Don’t any of you know that at the equator gravity affects the perception of time. If you stay here long enough it will affect your sense of time as well.

  27. I don’t suppose any of you have heard of CP time which is part of various cultures in the US and more akin to the Ecuadorian sense of time?

  28. I hve lived in Ecuador, but once I got married in Panama(same difference) we reserved an island resort and I flew in my friend who is an ArchBishop of the Eastern orthodox faith. The wedding invitations were for 5:30pm . Set this way so that the back ground would be sunset over the ocean. ArchBishop and stood there alone at 5:30pm and the wedding took place at 6:30 after the sunset had taken place. Nobody gave me an apology for screwing up my wedding. So there you go. You also must remember the 8 and 80 rule

  29. I had a friend in Quito who was late for his own wedding. The priest got upset and said, “next”. My friend just waited, making little talk with his relatives outside the church, until his turn came up. I am sure the priest felt good about teaching the young lad a lesson. And my friend felt fine as well, knowing that he had yet another anecdote to some day tell his children. Who was the winner?

  30. It is not a south American thing, but an Ecuadorian one. It is very disrespectful to others and disfuntional. One of the reasons why this society is were it is. Adapt to it? Just don’t let it get to you if you plan to stay here long, but it is not ok, and never will. The majority have no sense of commitment, and very little honesty towards eachother. Sad.

    1. Maria, I have to differ with you. Having lived in Mexico, Panama and Peru and I can tell you definitely that It is a Latin American thing, not just an Ecuadorian one. The talk of disrespect and disfuntion is mostly a gringo hang-up and one you have to get over if you plan to live in this culture.

  31. Following my dental bone transplant, my “follow-up” appointment with the Ecuadorian dental surgeon was for 12:00. I live an hour and 15 minutes away and it’s a10 minute walk to his office from the bus stop. As I always do, I allowed 15 extra minutes for the bus and 10 minutes extra for my walk so I left 30 minutes earlier than I needed and, even though I knew I would have to wait 20-30 minutes in his office for him to finish the patient he was with, I always arrived 15 to 20 minutes early. This day the buses were slow, the traffic in Loja was so bad the taxi could not move so I jumped out of the taxi and ran to the dentist’s office. I arrived frazzled and out-of-breath at 12:15!!. I caught him just as he was locking his door for his lunch break and he seemed irritated with me. And as I said, I had never been late before, I was always early and I always had to wait on him. Moral of the story: Ecuadorians might not be concerned about what time you arrive for dinner but you better be careful if your appointment interferes with their lunch hours. (BTW, his posted lunch hours were from 1:00 to 3:00.) I no longer use this dentist.

    1. Hahahahahaha The custos morum has spoken and the arbiter of all that is good doesn’t like what has been written. All that agree with her, please show your support by giving her an up-vote.

      What? No takers? Oh, so sad. Keep in mind this is the same person that thinks it is horrible to have to ride backwards on the tranvia. Pobrecita…

      1. A trick of all Media – take things out of context. I did not say that it was “horrible” to have to ride backwards. I said that it was unnatural. Anyway, if you have to ride backwards you will be lucky to even get a seat as there is a lot more standing-room than seats on the Tranvia – unlike the bus where I ALWAYS get a seat. But, the Tranvia is modern and it is red – a very nice colour. Any other advantages?

  32. And just what do you do when you have a physician’s and contractors’ appointments, bank business, grocery shopping, all in one day? I notice the bell rings for work start, breaks, lunch hours, etc. for workers on a large building nearby. And they listen up!

  33. being that for the last twenty years i have been getting up when i wake up and getting to work when I get there adjusting to ecuadorian time should be easy although when I say i am going to be somewhere at 3pm I am there at three pm

  34. Several people stated this is Ecuador, but not an issue elsewhere in South America. First, I moved from New York to North Carolina. I found that this very same attitude is alive in North Carolina. Exactly the same as here (or at least what people SAY it is like here… more on that later). I hated it, as I was a business exec that had to “retrain” North Carolina operations to serve the customer and to be on time for work. I burned through some employees in fact, and got a lecture from one brave soul that advised me I should not tamper with tradition and I should conform to this. I also lived in Colombia S.A. for a while. This condition was the most rampant there.
    In truth I see it much better here in Ecuador. Businesses due at my place to start (Puntonet, DirectTV etc) were all prompt and on time. Puntonet worked through lunch. I see banks open as well as most businesses. In Colombia, you might as well not bother trying to get anything done between Noon and 3PM.
    I cant tell you if it is ultimately good or bad. I am afflicted with the problem, and climb the walls if I might be late. I plan everything and make sure I arrive early. Not to get the best seat etc, but because that is what I do. I am compelled.
    I asked about Ecuador, and why it is so much different than Colombia. I was told that it didn’t used to be, but in the past decade the US influence has infiltrated. I don’t know about that either. I just know it is not nearly as bad as people told me. I see a very hard working people, striving to be on time.

  35. The obsession with punctuality is a Group of Eight hang-up. The Ecuadorean attitude toward time is far more universal. It is part of the majority culture of the world. Europe, North America, Japan, and a few of their satellites are the only ones who come “on time.” There is an easy solution if you want to serve dinner at 8:00 to a multicultural guest list. Tell the Thais and Ecuadoreans to come at 6:00, the Southen Europeans to come at 6:30, and the Aussies to come at 7:00 for 7:30. Tell the Brits to come at 7:30, the Americans and Germans to come at 8:00, the Japanese to come at 8:10. You should have everyone seated by 8:15. The Japanese will actually arrive at 8:00, but they’ll hang about outside until 8:10 comes. If everyone else is seated, just open the front door and pull them in.

  36. Ironic to come across this article today. I was just at SOLCA for an appointment last week and this became a topic of conversation with the group of ladies I was sitting with. They were shocked when I explained to them how the “EC time” is forewarned about when you do research on EC. Finally, one of the ladies admitted how true it was, but that she had never thought about it. Then, so did the others and we continued on having a fun conversation about the EC culture vs mine (both USA and PR) until I got called in. I love having those exchanges!

    After living in EC going on 4 yrs (3 on the coast), there are a few observations that I have no issues discussing, regardless of who I am dealing with:
    1- Always in a hurry, driving like maniacs, but never on time. I am surprised there are not more deadly accidents in this country. And before you jump on me for saying this, I actually drive here.
    2- Whenever there is an “appointment” made, I always ask: Clock time or Ecuadorian time? What can I say, I am blunt. Some take it as I mean it, but others choose to get offended until I present them with the evidence and then it clicks. The beauty of being blunt and bilingual…
    3- I will let them know that I am not leaving the house on the day of the appointment without calling to confirm that we are still on and at the time we agreed upon. I also let them know that if for some unforeseeable reason I am going to be late or will not be able to make it, I will call them to let them know as soon as I know, unless I have no signal. I do this even when I have a doctor’s appointment. Yes, they may be puzzled by my actions, but also appreciative, because we can re-schedule if necessary. After all, they also may have an appointment to go to themselves…
    4- Those who want to be my friends/deal with me/do business with me are forewarned about this. And they learn pretty quick that it is not a joke to me. In my personal circle, they realize it is a show of disrespect to me. In the professional aspect, they will loose the business, for the same reason. When they do no
    5- I have a 15 minutes wait limit, no matter on whose soil I am at. Lack of punctuality is not just an EC issue, for I dealt with it just the same way while in the states. If you do not call me to let me know that you are running late, you will not find me there when you decide to show. In an era of cellphones, there is no excuse not to show me this courtesy.

    Look, to have a laid-back attitude and lifestyle is one thing. Live your life and use your time as you wish. However, to be disrespectful and waist MY time is another one. Do I love living here? Absolutely. Do I respect them. Absolutely. Do I understand the fact that “I am not in Kansas anymore…” Indeed I do. Do I believe that there are consequences to every action? That is a fact that seems to be lost to some and one I am good at demonstrating. Do they appreciate it? Most do, especially when they get to understand the reason why they end up loosing money because they cannot do business with people like me.

  37. Al. I hope you get this… I am curious as to where in PR you were at. As a full blooded born and raised Boriqua, punctuality was always something that was the norm for me. This was never an issue for me and a quality all my employers appreciated while in the states. As a scientist, time was important in many many ways. I used to have the house clocks 5-10 min ahead, and still do. (Also curious about your overall experience in the Island…)

  38. When I arrived 30 years ago, I was also ‘addicted’ to being on time (and still am but with more flexibility). My 4 year old son was invited to a birthday party at 4pm and that is when we arrived. We waited for two hours before anyone else, except the clown, showed up. Speaking no Spanish back then, and the clown only speaking Spanish, we smiled at each other for what seemed like an eternity. I do think that many Ecuadorians think being late, and usually holding up the event until “they” decide to show, makes them more important. Being important seems to be very important to many people and making other wait for the important person is a sign of importance. 🙂

  39. So showing up late when called to war might be a good idea. The war might be over before you get there. I have lived through ‘on time wars’ (Vietnam) and Ecuadorian/Peru wars. I like the local wars better.

  40. I was raised the same way, by a U.S. Army colonel. I too consider lateness to be rude. If a person has an appointment, and doesn’t show at least within a 15 minute “late” time frame, I leave or close the door.

  41. For me it is rude to show up late. I have had a few here in Ecuador who felt the same way when the tables were switched. People who do not respect the agreed upon time to meet are assuming the plans and commitments of others. When you are late you are disregarding the events following the appointment– always been surprised and irritated by this attitude and simple matter of common sense.

  42. Actually, the schools are probably the ONLY places where punctuality and uniforms are required!!! Hehehe! Go figure!

  43. Deke says, “This [lack of promptness by locals] can cause stress and embarrassment for people wired for promptness.
    Some people take years to adjust — if they ever do. It’s a very hard
    habit to break.”

    Funny how the spin gets in. It’s not “a very hard habit to break.” It’s called keeping your promises, keeping your word. Showing up on time, doing what one says they are going to do is a mark of integrity, honesty, mindfulness, respect, being considerate. Cultures that ‘flex’ with these character traits also ‘flex’ with many of the other character traits required to improve individual maturity and social progress. Net result: backward, or at best very slowly progressing societies. If the whole society is made up of slouchers and procrastinators that don’t much care about how they disrespect and inconvenience others, then what else could be expected of it?

  44. My life ran by the clock in the US. Lunch was usually spent catching up so the afternoon would be “on time”–or skipped entirely! I love the Ecuadorian concept of time and family which puts work 3rd (or lower) on the list. It took a little adjustment but I always find something to do if I am the first one to an appointment and have less indigation when proceeding with my day.

  45. Thanks to all who shared their experiences. I have heard and seen most of these situations and have made a decision that works for me. I am a very punctual person. At this stage of life, time is precious. If I arrive on time and the other person/professional does not, I simply wait a polite 15 minutes and go on my way. Some of it is my mind-set…and punctuality and respect for my time is something I prize and….if others don’t, it’s their business. I’ve wondered where this attitude/tradition comes from….much of what I’ve read below seems to be individual.

  46. I feel it is a sign of respect to be on time. Being “on time” can always be clarified too. For example, “be there between 5 and 5:30.”
    I almost always provide a cell number where I can be reached, I am agreeable to waiting for 10 minutes beyond the agreed time unless notified in advance. Beyond that, don’t be surprised if I am no longer available ten minutes after the designated time. This is for my personal behavior and happiness.

  47. That doesn’t work in JEP Bank.I was waiting for the central office to open the other day (8am) The employees were rushing to get in.At 7:50 am (yes I was there early)The Security Guards blocked the doors and took the names of all the employees who got there after that.They had to wait until 8am to get in.In JEP at least you have to get there at the latest 10 minutes before it opens.

  48. Being habitually late is perhaps the easiest problem to resolve for those who are used to believe that people do what they say they would do. Wait, say up to 30 min MAX, and leave. The biggest problem. for me, has been that people forget their promises as soon as they utter them.
    It is not the culture that seems to value words/promises

  49. This tardiness does not work with IESS! I was ten minutes late for an appt. n wiped off the coomputer!!

  50. When told a time for something to start, you can always ask, ¿Hora latina u hora inglesa? This usually gets a chuckle but also an explanation of whether or not punctuality is expected. When in Rome…

  51. Gary, since you can not change the “Ecuadorian tradition” of being late, if you want to go out for dinner, text them or call them to let them know you are on your way. Or, if you are having dinner at your place, give yourself one hour to spend around. It is not worth the stress…….

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