01-08-10 - Thailand Time

One of the beautiful and also infuriating things in Thailand is the idea of "Thailand Time". This is the expression that Farang use to refer to the fact that nothing runs on schedule and things can take arbitrarily longer than expected at any time. It stems from a Thai attitude that nothing is really urgent and work is not that important and you should always be laughing and having fun and light of heart.

At times I would observe it and really admire it; like some delivery guy who was obviously in a big rush would still stop and laugh and chat with someone he greeted on the street. In that situation I would be all stressed out and trying to hurry and not talk to people, but they were still just making time for socializing and very relaxed.

At other times it was frustrating and annoying. Like when you're starving and order some food and watch the waiter wander the opposite direction of the kitchen and just stand there and chat with someone for a while. Or when you're sitting in a long tail or songtheaw waiting for the driver to get going and he's just picking his toes. Or when your laundry is supposed to be done in the evening because you leave that morning, but 20 hours after it was supposed to be done you get it back still wet.

I know when I'm slammed with work it makes me so tense and preoccupied that I just can't be around people any more, I become impossible to talk to and really short with people. Basically the entire 5 years I worked at Oddworld I felt like I couldn't spare a minute to chat with someone; if someone would come to my desk and not get right to the point I'd be like "ok, do you have a question? No? I'm getting back to work". I admire the idea that you could be slammed with work and just not let it bother you and still take time out to do nothing productive, but it's certainly not without consequences.

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