Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Stuck in Stage Two: The Waiting Game

I enjoy the slower pace here, though no matter how much I acclimate, some of that will always be frustrating, I imagine. Slower pace usually means paying attention to people more, taking more time for family and friends, but also often translates to inefficiency in a variety of interactions. Whether a pre-arranged gathering or meeting will actually happen is always in question right up through the first hour after its been scheduled to occur.

Much like in Nicaragua, I've learned that rain is a completely valid excuse to cancel. No phone call needed or verbal confirmation. If it is raining at the time that something starts, it is automatically assumed that no one will go. Its cancelled. As if everything were a baseball game. I'm still learning the intricacies of this norm. I don't know what the protocol is, for example, if it is just sprinkling throughout the day or if it downpours, but only for 15 minutes before the start time, etc. I believe that most of these answers are dependent on one's mode of transport, (on foot vs public transport or personal vehicle) the specific occasion (work meeting vs party), the time of day (evening vs. morning or afternoon), and your relationship to the host (friend vs. boss vs. acquaintance).

This pace, however, can have me pulling my hair out in some situations. Take, my follow-up appointment with MustacheSurgeon (it was actually with one of his colleagues), for example. Note: It wasn't raining. Our appointment, made that morning, was for 3 pm. Josh and I arrived, handed over my passport as is customary and took a seat. Gently (I had opted out of pain meds that day). The room was probably 20 square feet, no windows with a 40 inch flat screen above the reception desk. The receptionist cranked her neck to watch the novela* on screen. A woman was dramatically attempting to convince a man that she was his mother and therefore they couldn't be lovers. He wouldn't have any of it.
NovelaReceptionist wrote down all the information from my passport, then asked my age. Isn't my birthday on my passport? They love to hear me say it at that hospital: 31. I'm 31. Anyone else want to ask me? She went back to her novela.
Then we waited.
At 3:34 pm, we asked, "Do you know how much longer the doctor will be?"
"He's in sugery. Let me call down there," she picked up the phone and mumbled into it, "Just a bit longer."
"Okay. Thank you."
Then we waited. Josh went to get coffee.
We waited. Two more people came in to wait for their appointment. I had been reading a book I brought, but had to stop since the lighting went berserk all of a sudden. I looked up to see a night club scene on the screen, strobe lights and all, scantily-clad actors rubbing up against one another. It flashed then to women in thongs shaking their behinds too close to the camera. And back to the strobe lights. Wow.
Josh leaned over, “This would be a lawsuit.” I smiled, grateful we weren’t epileptic and that everyone else in the room didn’t seem bothered in the least.
We waited some more. Another patient came in to be seen. I turned the page of my book, which I had started when we arrived, and saw that I was on page 47. I’m a slow reader.
“Josh,” I turned to him. He’d been reading the only available reading material, the Holy Bible. “What time is it?”
“I want to go home now,” I looked him straight in the eye, “I feel like I’m a social outcast at a bad/awkward high school party.” At that point, NovelaReceptionist was cooing into the phone at someone as she continued to gawk at the screen. "And my bandages are fully congealed to my wounds."
“Give it ten more minutes.”
We waited. At 4:49, we stood up. Man is true to his word.
“You’re leaving?” NovelaReceptionist asked, surprised, “But you’ve waited so long already! Just wait a moment and let me call again.”
We waited. She mumbled into the phone again, this time with some more persistence. I could make out that she was asking for a specific timeline, not just a “sooner or later.” An hour. It would be at least an hour more. Give us a call another day, thanks.

I still have to learn more patience. A lot more.

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