Last Year was just 5 Minutes ago, or: Mexican Yip Yips

Even if some people will hate me even more for saying this, I claim that time specifications of any kind should be considered redundant in Mexican Spanish, hence could be deleted from the dictionary. Let me explain:

Everybody knows that the Mexican “mañana” can actually mean anything from “tomorrow” to “never”. I also learned that there is a difference between “en un rato” and “en un ratito” which may be translated into “in a while” and “in a bit”. At first, when someone told me “I’ll be there en un rato” I expected that someone to show up within the next hour. But in fact, “un rato” is not much different from “mañana” as it can mean “in a few hours” or “never”, whereas “un ratito” seems to mean at least “today”.

Well, time is relative anyway, isn’t it? I was reminded of that today when a friend of mine announced she’d swing by for breakfast for all of a sudden I remembered that our doorbell is broken so she had to call me upon arrival for me to open the door. You would think a broken doorbell could easily be fixed when in fact, I’ve been waiting for those repair guys for 5 minutes now.

It all started when we moved in here in October and I quickly discovered that our doorbell wasn’t working. So I talked to our property management and they promised to send handyman R. over. He came en un rato which in this case meant the next day and uninstalled the interphone unit. He then said he needed to go and buy a missing tool in a shop that’s just down the street, so he’d be back in half an hour.

At 9 pm I sensed that R. probably wouldn’t show up again. Yes, sometimes I am a bit slow. 2 days later I decided to phone the office again, maybe there had been a misunderstanding of some sort. The lady told me to stay in for she would send him over again. En un rato.

To cut a long story short, he showed up a few days and many phone calls later, installed a new interphone and as that didn’t work either, he shrugged his shoulders and told me the system was faulty in the entire building. Nothing that could be done about it. We both sighed, and to me that was the end of the story.

However, a few weeks later I got an angry text from the lady at the property management company asking me why I wouldn’t open the door. As I was driving on the highway at that time, I called her a little later and explained to her I was out. Bummer. Apparently, some other handyman had decided to stop by and take a closer look at the matter. We made a new appointment for the following day which I didn’t take too seriously, but sure enough at 7pm somebody knocked on my door. 2 guys entered, examined the interphone and told me that it was the wrong device, that we were the only apartment having this problem, and could I please hand them the old unit. When I informed them that R. had taken that one, they deliberated for quite a while, very much to my delight bearing a striking resemblance to the Sesame Street “yip yip” Martians. Finally, one of the yip yips told me to stay put, they’d be back in 5 minutes.

Well, I am waiting. Boy, those are the longest 5 minutes of my life!



Let’s be on time!

Last week, my world crumbled. It was handymen week, one of my very favourite times of the year as some of you may recall. But shocking as it may be: Everybody showed up on time! I know, I still have to pinch myself really hard, but it most definitely happened.

The guys beamed at me when I breathlessly (I had to hurry downstairs, who expects anyone to be on time for heaven’s sake?) pointed out a miracle had happened. And that made me think (once again) about punctuality.

(Copyright: Anne Taintor,

I am a very punctual person. Full stop. That might not surprise you given that I am German and those are famous for being on time, aren’t they? But I haven’t always been this way. As a matter of fact, for most of my adulthood, I had considered running late quite fashionable as did most of my friends at that time. The question would always be, who comes in last? You know, it seems so much more interesting when you rush into a bar with this diva-like air of stress. Everybody is looking at you while you get to tell the most amazing story about why you are being late. After you’ve ordered the champagne that is.

So this pattern worked just fine for me most of the time. However, I had one very friend who refused to be anything like a diva, and she was always, always, I mean: ALWAYS on time. And although I knew this, I couldn’t snap out of my habit, so when we had agreed to meet at 8, I knew I had to leave my home at 7:45. But mostly, I had just started to get dressed at that time and would only be ready to leave at 8 – by which time my friend would have already arrived at the bar. Every time I felt bad, yet I somehow just didn’t manage to get out of the house in a timely fashion.

Until I read an article somewhere that quoted someone saying that it was a matter of respect to be on time. If I come late, I consider my time more valuable than somebody else’s for I expect the other one to have nothing better to do than to wait for me. Whereas I apparently have something better to do than to hang out with that someone. Made sense to me. All of a sudden, this whole diva thing wasn’t so appealing to me anymore, and ever since reading this statement, I have tried hard to be annoyingly on time. And if I cannot help it but run 5 minutes late, I at least let the other one know.

And so here I am in one of the most unpunctual countries in the world… But I don’t give up, I still haven’t given in to tardiness – and there is a teensy-weensy hope that it might rub off on some people…

I want longer days! …please!

Lately, I have been quite busy with some translation work and editing. As a consequence, I have been thinking about stress.

Airport security line

This is what the beginning of my day usually looked like. (Photo credit: oddharmonic)

You know, it is such a weird thing. In my former jobs I used to travel A LOT. My husband and I were having a long-distance relationship with him living in Switzerland and me living in Germany, so nobody was waiting for me at home. I just packed my bags and went.

As long as I was having a very busy career, I didn’t even think about pursuing any hobbies. The only thing I was passionate about apart from my job was cooking, but I rarely found the time. Most nights I spent at hotels, sometimes I went to the hotel gym, but very often I would just read, hang out in the bar, prepare the next day, and it never occurred to me that I might be missing out on something. After all, I had my job! When being at home, I tried to catch up with all my friends, visited my parents, and basically did all the everyday stuff that I usually had no time for. When I didn’t hop on the next plane to Switzerland, that is.

Clearly, that was a stressful way of living, so when it was time for me to give up my job, I was looking forward to the unfamiliar principle of “leisure time”. Little did I know, because it was only then that the stress started!

Me flambeing some prawns. YUMM!! (Please note the Swiss apron.)

Since all of a sudden, this job alibi was gone – time to find out what I would LIKE to do. And it turned out that I still enjoy the same things I did when I was little: reading, writing, painting and drawing. So I got out my brushes and created children stories for my godson and my niece which was a lot of fun. I also finally had the time to cook as much as I wanted, so I also created a cookbook. Then I started doing yoga every day – and all of a sudden, I found myself in the mornings wide awake, eager to start the day!

Before, I slept until the last minute, rushed to work, and if I had some unpleasant work thing ahead of me, I even wished that the day was over already and I could retire to my hotel room. On a bad day – don’t get me wrong. After re-discovering my hobbies and creating new ones, I couldn’t get out of bed fast enough and still wished the day would have more hours. And all of a sudden, I understood why all retirees seem to have no time at all!

English: Jump! Deutsch: Spring!

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now with a part time job that leaves me a lot of flexibility, I still feel that I want to do all the stuff that I used to do before, and that can actually become quite a bit of pressure! A good pressure, but still.

Although I sometimes miss the corporate world, I have to admit that my life has become so much richer. And honestly, I just have no time for a corporate job anymore!