Posted tagged ‘instant gratification’

“Even a snail will eventually reach its destination.”

February 2, 2013

I’m walking on sunshine! I slept through the night and for the second day in a row no mice graced my trap which will now be moved into the eaves to see if there are any left hiding from me, but I’m thinking no more midnight mouse runs for Gracie and me. I’m sure she’ll be disappointed.

In the Globe this morning was an article about the US becoming a nation of the perpetually impatient. People under 35 lead connected lives with”…a need for instant gratification.” Researchers found people can’t wait more than a few seconds for a video to load. Two seconds was the average. “After five seconds, the abandonment rate is 25%. When you get to 10 seconds, half are gone.”

I am guilt of impatience, but I have always been impatient even since I was a kid. I tapped silverware at the table and drove my mother crazy. At the subway station I leaned over the tracks to see if the train was coming. My mother always grabbed me back. If we were going somewhere, I was always the first one ready and expected we’d leave on time. That seldom happened, and I’d moan and groan and throw myself down on the couch in frustration. That went on my whole life until I went to Ghana.

Ghana runs on two-time tables: Ghanaian and European. If you were going somewhere with a Ghanaian and you were making plans, a given time always elicited the question, “Ghanaian or European time?” Ghanaian time mean anytime: an hour, two hours or even three hours after the planned time. European time meant the actual hour. I learned that 7 o’clock meant I didn’t even have to start getting dressed until 8 or even later. If I arrived by nine, I was probably early. Buses in the lorry park left when they were full. Sometimes that meant waiting hours. I’d sit under a tree and read. When I was hungry, I’d buy some donuts, one of all time favorite Ghanaian treats, or groundnuts or whatever the small girl was selling from the tray on her head. Impatience was wasted energy. It changed nothing.

The tailor promised my dress would be ready by Tuesday which became Wednesday when probably meant Saturday or not. I never got angry or annoyed. The tailor was just taking his time, his Ghanaian time.

Once I sat at the Yeji ferry site for four hours while we waited for some government higher up who wanted the ferry there when he arrived. I drank some water with floaties (we always bought the beer bottle filled with water which had the least amount of floaties), ate some plantain, took some pictures, sat on an overturned boat and read and watched all the people. Finally the guy came and we boarded the bus when was then loaded on the ferry. I wasn’t frustrated or impatient. I knew better.

When I came home, my lessons were, over time, unlearned. The bar was higher here. I expected people to be on time. I expected busses and planes to leave at their appointed hours. I got annoyed and frustrated when they didn’t.

When I went back to Ghana, I right away fell into Ghanaian time. The lessons I had learned way back were still ingrained. “Less tomorrow,” a Ghanaian would tell me. That always meant another day yet to be determined. I was only to happy to wait.


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