Monday, July 23, 2007

In Good Time

For the most part, Beijingers are not in a rush.

They like to walk slowly -- saunter is probably the best word to describe it. My coworkers wonder why I walk so fast. I tell them it's a lasting legacy from my Hong Kong days. While I get to a destination faster, I probably perspire more.

In traffic jams, drivers, bus passengers and truck drivers all wait patiently for the cars in front to move. We'll get there eventually. Even if there's an accident, they all take turns manoeuvering around the crash site and carry on.

At restaurants, wait staff are in no hurry to get their customers' orders or to serve them their dishes so they can get the next round of diners. Perhaps not getting tips propagates this environment.

Office workers especially in state-owned enterprises, finish their lunches, and then take a leisurely nap bent over their desk with their heads resting on cushions or mini pillows. Then they slowly get back into the grind one and a half hours after lunch break started.

While I appreciate this laid-back attitude, which has helped me slow my pace down a notch, it can also be frustrating especially when you're in a hurry.

And next year could be quite interesting with thousands of visitors rushing from one venue to the next to catch events. Either overseas guests are going to have to put up with this laissez-faire approach, or someone will have to tell the Chinese that time's a tickin'.

1 comment:

ks said...

there is a study that demonstrated workers taking an afternoon nap have higher effiicieny , making less mistakes. siesta is a common practice in the sunbelt and mediterranean. in mexico spain and italy there is a complete shutdown of businesses during siesta. this is to avoid the blazing sun. life will resume after 4 o'clock until late at night. in china this practice has been ingrown for generations. it would be desirable if they can stagger different groups to take siesta thus maintaing a smooth work flow.