8 February 2010

Cambodian Clock Watching

The receptionist and I furtively watched the clock. Tick, tock, tick. I was here for a job interview and I was ten minutes early. She wasn't about to call her boss to say that I was here until exactly the appointed time. Tick, tock, tick.

Ann arrived early for an interview. She was sat down. And she waited. Tick, tock, tick. And at exactly the time scheduled the receptionist made her move and ushered Ann into an office.

Today, again, I was early for an appointment; it's difficult to get the timing right when you don't know the city and nor are you confident that the moto-driver will be able to follow your directions. I was shown a chair. And we- the receptionist, an office worker and I- waited. Tick, tock, tick. For 15 minutes we waited. They shuffled nervously, conscious that I was sitting there. I glanced secretly at my watch. Tick, tock, tick. Finally the designated time arrived and, not a minute early, nor a minute late, I was taken to my meeting.

There's no point in being early for an appointment. In fact it's best to be bang on time, or probably even a little late. Being early just means sitting and watching the clock. And it means making the receptionists uncomfortable as they sit and watch with you. Tick, tock, tick.

Tonight, at 5.30 some students are due at our home for a class. They are late. They usually are. So what do we do? We wait. And watch the clock. Tick, tock, tick.

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