Living On Latin Time
Why Latinos are Late
Is it true? What they say about Hispanic Time? You know the joke: What time is it when a Latino arrives? Late o’clock.
If you are Latino, if you have friends who are Latino, if you are married to a Latino, I’d bet money you’ve heard anything from whisperings to chidings spoken out loud regarding Hispanic Time.
Hispanic/Latino time — or Cuban Time, or Mexican Time, or Colombian Time, etc — is the tongue-in-cheek saying given to the late arrival time of our people to social gatherings.
For work, business, meetings, school functions, committees, we are professionally prompt and on the dot.
But, invite us to a party, a wedding, a celebration, and let’s just say that chances are good we won’t be the first ones ringing your doorbell.
I don’t take offense when I hear joking about this late arrival time and Latinos. Within my own family we will jokingly ask before we meet somewhere, American time or Latino time? This is our way of asking Do you want me there at 6:30, or around 6:30?
The reasons for this cultural characteristic have been speculated about for years. I feel it’s expected of me to arrive late at a Latino event. I don’t want to arrive on time because I know my hosts will expect me to arrive at least half an hour later than requested.
Research into why there is this occurrence of arriving late in our culture leads to explanations of European background, Mediterranean roots, living in the present, not fully adopting the American lifestyle of “time is money”, and “the early bird gets the worm.”
I have read the proposed theories, detailing how Hispanics value peace more than stress, or how the Spanish language and it’s verb structure create a lifestyle of living in the present. For me, it comes down to doing what is politely expected in my Latino culture.
Why I am Late
I feel my hosts need the time to prepare for my arrival. I don’t want to catch them before they are ready or make them feel rushed. The arrival time of 30 minutes later that I give them is like a safety net that I silently provide for my friends. I want them to be relaxed and ready for me. In my eyes, arriving later than requested is the considerate thing to do.
It makes my husband and his German family crazy that I aim for a late arrival on purpose. They can’t understand this. I have been told by my husband how important it is for him to arrive on time for anything. I hear him, I really do. But I can’t bring myself to do it. The way I see it, to show up on time puts me at risk of finding my hostess in her slip and hot rollers. With not a smidge of lipstick on.
But I’ve figured out a simple way to work around my husband’s German punctuality and my Latino Time.
I tell him an arrival time that is half an hour later than we’re actually expected. When we pull up to our friend’s home, he smiles thinking we’re wonderfully prompt, and I am able to breathe deeply, relieved we won’t walk in on anybody in their boxers and A shirt, dancing in the kitchen to Pitbull.