Everybody who lives or works in Mexico has a mañana story. Now we have one, too. Here it is, but first a word of explanation. Even those who don’t speak Spanish have heard of the word “mañana” which literally means “tomorrow” en Español. Except no one ever uses mañana to mean a literal time expectation; they use it to mean “not now” or “sometime” or even “maybe.” More importantly, the concept connotes a flexible approach to time in general, which one has to accept south of the border.
We were scheduled to have some workmen install Murphy beds in our guest bedrooms. They were due to be with us Monday through Thursday. So we asked when would they arrive, since we needed to be home to let them in, review what they were going to do, etc. The company rep told us they would arrive between 11:30 and 12:30. So they rolled up around 1:30 pm, and we were not too surprised. Before they left Monday evening, we asked when they would come mañana. At 10:00, they said, and we said good, as we told them we had an important appointment at 11:30, so we had to leave by 11:15.
Tuesday comes, but the workmen don’t, and we leave the house at 11:20 with a message taped to the front door telling them to come in, since we are gone. We don’t like it, but what else can we do? We get back and find they have complied with our note and our working inside. When they finish for the day, we once again ask “what time tomorrow?” We have no appointments, but we want to be there when they arrive and we have several odd chores we want to do. So we explain it does not really matter, we just want to know when. They say 10:30.
So on Wednesday morning, they arrive around 11:00, which forces us to modify our plans, but at least we were there when they arrived. Again we ask upon their departure, what time tomorrow? 10:30…right!
Thursday…so, by now you already know. They arrive a little after 11:00, but its the last day, so whatever. Except that evening at 5:00 (they always left on time at 5:00), they explained the installations were not done, so they would be back on Friday at (drum roll)…10:30.
So at 11:15 on Friday they promptly arrive, and finish the work around 3:00, when a company rep is stopping by to make sure the customers (us) are happy with the final product.
Partly this is the well-established Mexican cultural inability to say “no” or to tell someone bad news. They don’t want to disappoint us by saying they can’t be there at a certain time, so they simply commit to any time we ask, but don’t intend to meet that commitment, and rarely do.
Partly this is the flip side of the aspect of being centered in the moment, which I mentioned earlier. If you live in the moment, you realize that there is much beyond your control, and so you get used to going with the flow and not getting upset over inefficiency or delay.
One of the things which distinguishes successful expats from those who leave in frustration is the ability to recognize the Mañana culture, experience it without getting too upset, and accepting it is not necessarily wrong, just different.
While they took quite a bit of time, the workmanship was excellent. Here are the photos of our two guest bedrooms, one of which will be my office and other Judy’s sewing room.