The man walking on the clock

Félix Gonzáles-Torres – Untitled (Perfect Lovers)

German people are punctual, which is not a stereotype but a fact. My partner Mr. Hahn is a living example.

We got acquainted with each other through Tinder. When deciding to meet each other, we agreed to see each other in an American bar/restaurant at 17:00. It was the first time that I visited that place, so I took a taxi to the restaurant, and I arrived ten minutes earlier since there was no traffic. When I thought that I could have a drink first and enjoy the AC indoors, a guy with blonde hair who looks similar to the Tinder picture was smoking at a corner outside the restaurant, holding a bottle of “Yakult”, Ha-ha! This scene has left a deep impression on me. This guy is Mr. Hahn. We entered the restaurant together after saying Hi to each other. Anyway, being punctual for the first appointment won a high score for each other, though we never say it out.

Mr. Hahn is never late when we date, regardless of the weather. I’m also a punctual person. But to be honest, after we moved in together, I become casual with time if what we about to do or go to is just me and him. He starts to know more and more about my make-up routine and the delay it might caused. Hence, he always reminds me, “We will start off at **: 30 on time, not 32 or 35. It’s 30.” If I am a little late, he will swing the keys to make noisy sound by the door. When we visit his parents and stay there for a while, his family is punctual too. They will inform me of the precise dining time or activity time, and all of the family members will behave accordingly.

His philosophy of time is tied up with his requirement for efficiency. He said, “I am punctual because I respect others, and I also expect others to respect me. Don’t waste my time!” Encountering the following situations such as the people he is going to meet is late, the event itself is delayed or people don’t act as efficient as they supposed to be, he might be displeased and annoyed. People living in Shanghai always uses traffic jam as an excuse for being late, and it is very common that people are twenty minutes or half an hour late for the gatherings or appointments. Even so, my partner still persists in his own principle, no matter whether others are the same. He refuses to adapt to what locals do in this respect, and I appreciate this very much.

Mr. Hahn said that the punctuality might comes from the military discipline rooted in their ancestors’ daily life. 150 years before and included the World War II, Germany has been at several wars, and then the militarism was extended to the national spirit. Therefor since Modern time, punctuality is a good symbol of a person’s upbringing.

Right now, I have to turn off my laptop immediately since our scheduled departure time for dinner is approaching. Somebody is swinging his keys by the door…KLING KLING KLING…

Sigh… I will have to put on my shoes in the elevator. Write later…Ciao!

Félix Gonzáles-Torres

「走在鐘錶上的人」

德國人真的非常準時,這不只是刻板印象,這是事實。我的伴侶Mr. Hahn就是活生生的例子。

我們當初是在Tinder上認識。到決定碰面的時候,我們約了某天下午五點在一家美式餐廳見面。這個地方我第一次去,坐出租車路上不堵車,所以提前十分鐘抵達。我還暗想著早到了可以先坐下來喝飲料吹冷氣的時候,有一位看起來很像準備要見面的金髮男生已經站在店外一隅抽菸,手裡拿著一瓶「益菌多」,哈哈哈!這個畫面實在令我印象深刻。那人就是他,我們互相say Hi相認以後,一起進入店內,開始認識彼此。雖然心照不宣,準時赴約的印象都給彼此打了高分。

不論天氣陰晴冷暖,Mr. Hahn跟我約會吃飯從不遲到。我們至今在一起將近四年的時光裡,他真的沒有誤點的紀錄。我個人也是喜歡準時的人。不過說實話,當我們住在一起以後,如果規劃的行程僅限於我倆時,我對時間就變得比較隨性一些。他也越來越了解我出門之前的化妝流程以及可能拖延到的時間,所以他會再三提醒我「我們三十分準時出發、不是三十二分,也不是三十五分,是三十分」,如果我稍微慢了一點,他就會在門口甩弄鑰匙、啷啷作響。回他爸媽家住的時候也一樣,每次團體吃飯或是出去活動的時間,都告知的非常準確,全家也都按照那個時間表行動。

我發現他的時間哲學以及對效率的要求是綁在一起的,他說:「我準時,因為我尊重別人,也希望別人尊重我,不要來拖延我的時間,因為接下去的行程可能都安排好了。」對德國人來說,守時是一項重要的美德。如果碰到對方遲到、事情延遲,或是任何處事的節奏不如預期,他可能一下就風雲變色、開始不悅。住在上海的人習慣以堵車為遲到的藉口,聚會赴約晚到二十分鐘到半個小時都已經稀鬆平常,即便如此,他還是堅持自己的原則,不管別人是否也是如此。關於這點他不入境隨俗、我個人非常欣賞。

Mr. Hahn說,德國人普遍準時的習慣,也可能來自祖先長期遵守的軍人紀律。包括二次世界大戰及之前的一百五十年左右,德國一直都在參戰,軍國主義擴張成民族精神,所以人們從習慣「服從」時間觀,演變成現代的超級守時態度,也基本成為一個人教養的體現。

文章寫到此,我得闔上電腦了。我們約定好要出門的時間逼近,有人已經開始啷啷鑰匙了。哎~~~我得到電梯裡穿鞋了。掰~

One thought on “The man walking on the clock

  1. I like this interesting article. It’s humourous and precisely describing the main different character between these two people also their attitude toward life.
    Overall, On time is the basic principle of respecting others and also ourself.

    Like

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