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Multitasking latecomers

From:FFlores <fflores@...>
Date:Saturday, May 15, 1999, 13:42
John Cowan <cowan@...> wrote:

> The American anthropologist Edward A. Hall classified cultures into > multitasking and unitasking (though he uses different terms). He > classifies the French as "officially unitasking, in practice > multitasking". For comparison, Hispanics are extremely multitasking, > Germans extremely unitasking, Americans almost as unitasking as Germans > in his day (1940s), but in our time becoming more multitasking. > > The stereotypes are that unitaskers are compulsive and fanatical, > whereas multitaskers are slipshod and have no notion of punctuality. > It was a German preschool teacher who charged me $1/minute for being late in > collecting my child; if a Hispanic housecleaner shows up 20 minutes late, > that's routine.
Although stereotypes may offend someone, I have to say the "multitasking Hispanic" one is probably useful to describe a lot of people. In Argentina, there's a tendency to announce the times for meetings and parties by giving a half-hour slice (for example "Come at nine or nine thirty"), and most people usually choose the lat(t)er time plus ten or fifteen minutes... Being a compulsively punctual person, that behaviour makes me mad, but most people here don't seem to grasp the concept of arriving in time. I was amazed to hear that in Japan, for example, apologies are asked to people in subway stations when the service is ten minutes late (I heard that; I don't know if it's true, but it wouldn't surprise me). In Argentina, a predominantly Hispanic country, showing up late is "fashionable"; showing up at the right time is weird and sometimes it gets antisocial and uncomfortable (when, for example, you come to your friend's birthday party at the time s/he told you, and s/he's still deciding what to wear :). --Pablo Flores