Just Now.

It took me a few months to finally understand what this phrase even meant; then I realized this is the sole operating idea of Guyana. This county is very laid back, as most Caribbean countries have reputations for being. People here take their time doing everything, nothing is “urgent” and for the most part, people are used to waiting. Really, really waiting. Maybe you can imagine how my American-timed self handles this (not super well). I’ve gotten quite a bit better, but the complete lack of hustle still gets to me. Especially where there should be an abundance of hustle. Like…the hospital. (The CEO of Mercy Hospital here visited a hospital in Baltimore in the fall and came back to Guyana and said “people are in such a rush, they’re always running around the hospital”; yep…).

So for Guyana, instead of using time as a constraint, its more of a suggestion. Instead of saying “I’m on my way” or “I’ll be ready for you in five minutes”, the Guyanese say “just now”. Here’s the tricky part though, “just now” means: “next year”, “maybe if I remember”, “I forgot but I’ll do it in the next few months”. It can mean any length of time fathomable by humans. And it is never specified!

“Just now” can really mean anything and the people LOVE it. In America, “just now” means LITERALLY just this exact moment. There is none of that here. Meetings that are supposed to start at 2 start at 2:30 (maybe), buses that leave at 9 leave at 10:15. In November I was doing a group counseling session at a workplace with one other counselor and our plan was to leave the hospital at 1:30 to begin the session at 2. At 3:20 the other counselor came to me and asked if I was ready to leave…I had been ready since 1:15.

Part of this is really frustrating. When you have to wait and wait for something, or when you have to make someone else wait and wait it seems very unfair. These people have places to be, things to do, right? I mean: sure, that is right. As Americans we always think wherever we need to be is more important that where we already are. And maybe some Guyanese think that too, but they don’t show it. Yeah, the doctor has been coming in “just now” for three hours and the power has been coming back “just now” for the past six hours and the repair man for the faucet has been coming “just now” for an hour but the Guyanese just go with it. What are they gonna do? Skip an appointment or boycott electricity or continue with their broken faucet?

They just wait and they don’t let time ruin their lives. Seems like a pretty reasonable lifestyle practice to me. I’m gonna adopt it too, just now.

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