11522 Italians and punctuality!

Italians and punctuality - or LACK OF IT - as the case may be!

Those of you who, like me, know a number of Italians, have probably realised that most have little or NO concept of time and punctuality, so if Italian friends phone me and say "Oh we'll pop in and see you some time on Saturday morning" - there is [U][I]no[/I][/U] point in holding my breath! They could turn up AT ANY TIME - there will be [I]never[/I] be an apology if it is afternoon, evening or even (on occasion) the next day! So I don't hang around waiting anymore if I don't feel like it... and if I go shopping on a Saturday, I don't put myself out to rush back home.

This is because many of these family and friends arrive from areas around Milano for their day, weekend or vacanza [I]"in the mountains"[/I] and use the opportunity to pay a me flying visit. Once, at the beginning of my new life, as a resident here, a family couple phoned to say they would 'call in' on Saturday morning and they would have two friends (who I knew) with them. When asked about 'what time', they said "Oh it'll be before lunch!"..... Right - before lunch, so I'd better not go out I thought. So I waited in, deciding to have lunch out and get my shopping [I]after[/I] their visit. Well they turned up at [B]7.15pm[/B] with the excuse that they decided they would all go to Livigno first and [I]then[/I] visit me on the way back instead of on the way out. I shall refrain from saying what I said!
[IMG]http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y148/flipper0828/ga_fun_smiley11.gif[/IMG]

But this seems to be an endemic part of the Italian make up. They [I]never[/I] keep to time in their personal lives. I have youngsters who come to me for English repetition and they are [U]ALWAYS[/U] 5, 10 or even 30 minutes late! Commenting on this to them (or their parents) has turned out to be totally fruitless.

Others, like repair men or shopkeepers delivering heavy things like a fridge or a TV are just the same - they arrange a time with you,write it down and then you might as well forget it 'cos you JUST KNOW that they won't keep to it!!!

I'm sure I can't be the only one who gets annoyed with their general "chi se ne frega" (who cares) attitude on punctuality, and the fact that it is bad manners to be late. I shudder to think how companies deal with staff time keeping [IMG]http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/images/it_time-clock06292005165828.gif[/IMG]
- but maybe they don't really bother - or even care!

And I'm equally sure that others of you have some pretty annoying stories to share with us on the subject... :yes:

[B][SIZE=1]P.S. We could even have a poll on the reasons peple were late - what do you reckon? [IMG]http://home.comcast.net/%7Egods1216/smileys/rotfl.gif[/IMG][/SIZE][/B]

Category
General chat about Italy

May I make some suggestions for the poll Carole?
I went to the hospital
I had to take my mother to the hospital (or son, daughter,cousin whatever applies)
I had to see a specialist at the hospital (upping the anti here)
It is my wedding anniversary
I was in Comunanza (always!)
I have had an accident.
My grandmother has died.

All these I have heard from people as excuses, its funny really, but I actually do have Italian friends who are early!
A

Oh please!
I have had a year and a half of workmen never turning up at the appointed time or even day. I remember an electrician on a Friday saying he had to come back and sort out the citofono the following Monday. Would I be there?
Well I was leaving Italy that morning but would postpone my trip if I had to. Listen he said, rather angrily, don't waste my time, either you will be there or not. Having assured him I would stay so he could finish the job he, of course, didn't show on the Monday at all. :nah:
Just one example of dozens of times of the same thing.
Somehow it's always my fault though when they don't show up! :veryconfused::bigergrin:

Sounds much the same as British Gas or any other trades people here in the UK!

As for friends, yes it's true that punctuality isn't seen as important, but I think it is more a question of clarity, rather than rudeness. I know by now that if someone says they'll "pop in", that means it could be at any time during the day or evening on the day in question. If on the other hand, it is understood that a meal will be prepared, I've never experienced someone turning up hours late.

As it used to wind me up terribly, I learnt to be much more specific as to when I would be in or out, so as not to get agitated waiting for someone to arrive at their leisure.

As a Brit that has his whole life dominated by schedules and the need to know precise times for everything, it was hard to adjust to a very different mind set. Curiously, aside from personal time keeping, Italian commerce is still steeped in very rigid timetables for the opening and closing of shops/restaurants/offices/gas stations etc.,etc., whereas here 24/7 is the norm.

Who has it right I ask myself? Who is less stressed? I know what my answer is.

Russ

[quote=Carole B;109062]Italians and punctuality - or LACK OF IT - as the case may be!

Those of you who, like me, know a number of Italians, have probably realised that most have little or NO concept of time and punctuality, so if Italian friends phone me and say "Oh we'll pop in and see you some time on Saturday morning" - there is [U][I]no[/I][/U] point in holding my breath! They could turn up AT ANY TIME - there will be [I]never[/I] be an apology if it is afternoon, evening or even (on occasion) the next day! So I don't hang around waiting anymore if I don't feel like it... and if I go shopping on a Saturday, I don't put myself out to rush back home.

This is because many of these family and friends arrive from areas around Milano for their day, weekend or vacanza [I]"in the mountains"[/I] and use the opportunity to pay a me flying visit. Once, at the beginning of my new life, as a resident here, a family couple phoned to say they would 'call in' on Saturday morning and they would have two friends (who I knew) with them. When asked about 'what time', they said "Oh it'll be before lunch!"..... Right - before lunch, so I'd better not go out I thought. So I waited in, deciding to have lunch out and get my shopping [I]after[/I] their visit. Well they turned up at [B]7.15pm[/B] with the excuse that they decided they would all go to Livigno first and [I]then[/I] visit me on the way back instead of on the way out. I shall refrain from saying what I said!
[IMG]http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y148/flipper0828/ga_fun_smiley11.gif[/IMG]

But this seems to be an endemic part of the Italian make up. They [I]never[/I] keep to time in their personal lives. I have youngsters who come to me for English repetition and they are [U]ALWAYS[/U] 5, 10 or even 30 minutes late! Commenting on this to them (or their parents) has turned out to be totally fruitless.

Others, like repair men or shopkeepers delivering heavy things like a fridge or a TV are just the same - they arrange a time with you,write it down and then you might as well forget it 'cos you JUST KNOW that they won't keep to it!!!

I'm sure I can't be the only one who gets annoyed with their general "chi se ne frega" (who cares) attitude on punctuality, and the fact that it is bad manners to be late. I shudder to think how companies deal with staff time keeping [IMG]http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/images/it_time-clock06292005165828.gif[/IMG]
- but maybe they don't really bother - or even care!

And I'm equally sure that others of you have some pretty annoying stories to share with us on the subject... :yes:

[B][SIZE=1]P.S. We could even have a poll on the reasons peple were late - what do you reckon? [IMG]http://home.comcast.net/%7Egods1216/smileys/rotfl.gif[/IMG][/SIZE][/B][/quote]

Maybe it's just a relaxed attitude to life Italians have. The "Domani Syndrome" I know of an unemployed electrician saying he would turn up for a job and he repeatedly didn't. There were rows apparently in the family because of his laziness. Where was he??? At the bar chatting with friends. The job went to not the next electrician. Oh no. He failed to to turn up repeatedly but to the third who was only five minutes late on the appointed day.

Okay be late or not appear but at least have the good manners/sense to ring. Difficult concept perhaps. There's also no harm in making a point of asking them to in the event.

Funnily enough - I experience exactly the opposite. Neighbours and friends in Italy are ALWAYS on time - it's me that has the Italian attitude - and it frustrates them beyond belief that I'm always late. Nowadays, if they want me to do something or be somewhere at a certain time - they tell me I've to be there an hour earlier than required in the hope I will do whatever/get there on time.

I'm wise to their devious ploys now - and so I turn up 2 hours later than requested - which still makes me an hour late, but keeps them frustrated for an hour longer than they needed to be! :bigergrin:

Our personal experience has not been that bad. But then, my husband keeps on ringing the tradesmen making sure that they will turn up at the right time. A very tedious job! The worst part has been waiting for some deliveries.

Yep, it took me a very long time to get used the local time-keeping. A house re-build littered with examples of days spent waiting around for people to turn up. And sometimes, I'd somehow end up apologising for their lateness!

I only have four years of experience, but have noticed that there are several things going on with Italians (please forgive huge generalisation):

[LIST=1]
[*]Appointments aren't important, mealtimes are and so is the family
[*]They have such a strong desire to please and find it so difficult to say "no", that times and dates are offered without any consideration as to the practicality of being able to meet them
[*]No account is taken of the time required from travelling from a to b
[*]Some folk think that if they arrive later than someone else that makes them more important
[/LIST]What I don't understand is how "la bella figura" is supported by all this lateness - maybe the fact that no apology is ever offered is the key??

That said, my best friends are very punctual, always and the other day I was 45 minutes late to help them reconnect la goma into il fiume - because I fogot.:laughs:

Hi all,

I agree with juliancoll - our experience of Italians, at least workmen, has been nothing but positive. They have always turned up on time, as agreed, and the quality of work has been good.

We've had just one instance when we were looking to get our back garden landscaped when the gardener could not be bothered to ring or turn up to come up and give us an estimate. Well, we never chased him - the job went to someone else who did call and turn up exactly when he said he would.

It's a two way thing though, we've also always paid our workmen when we said we would, sometimes giving 50% when the work has been half completed. Apparently this is unheard of in Italy ???

I've been here nearly two years now, and generally lack of punctuality hasn't been a major problem: not turning up at all has been.

Like when we asked someone to relay a parquet floor. They came and gave us an estimate and told us they would be back in two weeks to do the job. We never heard from them again.

On another occasion, we wanted a quote for new shutters. On the day they were due to come, they phoned to say they would not be able to make it after all, and asked if they could come the next day. We said fine, and agreed three o'clock. At three-thirty we had a call to say that he was still 20 km away, and would thus be rather late. We said we'd wait. He never arrived.

Two MONTHS later, we had a call from a man at the same firm, saying that he had just come across the note of our original enquiry, and offerning to come to give us the quote. Amazed at ther cheek, we agreed that they should come, knowing that we would never order anythng from them, but just wanting to waste some of their time as they had wasted ours. Needless to say, they never turned up, and we have not heard another thing from them.

We have also had many promises from the administrator of our apartment block that he will do something in "brevissimi tempi". I now realise this is the Italian for "never".

I can't say I've found lack of punctuality a problem either. I'm also having building work done in the UK at the moment - and one of the builders who promised faithfully to get back with a quote was never heard from again - despite several chasing calls. So it's not necessarily an Italian thing

We learnt from experience that "domani" does not, as we all thought, mean "tomorrow ", but some indeterminate time in the future. Our electrician would leave on Friday afternoon, saying see you on Monday.............neglecting to mention which Monday and it was often two or three weeks later! But he was utterly charming and very good at his job, so it could've been worse.

[quote=Romano;109100]We learnt from experience that "domani" does not, as we all thought, mean "tomorrow ", but some indeterminate time in the future. Our electrician would leave on Friday afternoon, saying see you on Monday.............neglecting to mention which Monday and it was often two or three weeks later! But he was utterly charming and very good at his job, so it could've been worse.[/quote]

He was probably flitting between your place, ours and about 15 other jobs that Monday:laughs: I learned to manage my expectations based around whether they left any tools behind. No tools, no return.

Hi
The punctuality or lack of it, really got to me when we first arrived... but now I accept it is part of our life here. There is no malice involved, as others have said (generalising) Italians just dont like to say No. However, as others have noticed when food is concerned they are usually right up there at the front of the queue.(when there is one).

A plus side, our Notaio said he would send us a bill, that was three years ago... I hope he isn't sitting there and working out the compound interest. If so, then we will be on bread and water!

When it comes to dinner 'down the road' at our friends' house....

If I am 10 minutes late, they phone.

If I am 15 minutes late they send up their 19 year old son.

If I am 20 minutes late, they send up Nonna (74).

But once I was really ill, and they all came up to see me and delivered my dinner!!! :yes:

The larger the larger the Organisation the larger the delay. We had 6 cancellations/not turning ups and 4 changed appointments ( at the last minute i.e. 30 minutes to lunch time the day they were supposed to arrive) with Telecom Italia. In all it took nearly 3 months from when they were first due to getting the work done.

May I make some suggestions for the poll Carole?
I went to the hospital
I had to take my mother to the hospital (or son, daughter,cousin whatever applies)
I had to see a specialist at the hospital (upping the anti here)
It is my wedding anniversary
I was in Comunanza (always!)
I have had an accident.
My grandmother has died.

All these I have heard from people as excuses, its funny really, but I actually do have Italian friends who are early!

Sounds like an estate agent In Le Marche we had the misfortune to have dealings with. Am I right or am I right?
Sprat
What about that good old sign "Turno Subito" Ha Ha Ha Ha. Usually yellow and curling with age

We have a gas delivery man who NEVER turns up on the day agreed but you know something - I bet if I go out on the agreed day he is bound to turn up! Still, that' Italy - best to go with it. Incidentally that bloke who sits on your tail down a country road has got to be late for something (or maybe not!)

One of my worst experiences involved four family members... The story went like
this:

Two of them were due to re-take their marriage vows for their 25th wedding anniversary. Final details for the ceremony had to be made with the monks at Piona Abbey. So the 'anniversary couple', a brother and his wife were driving up from Milano, were to pick me up and we were going to the Abbey in the afternoon.

They phoned the day before and I said (foolishly as it turned out), 'Well come up a bit earlier and all have lunch here with me, and then we can go off to Piona'. So that was all agreed... they would arrive around lunchtime.

I prepared a three course lunch - pasta, roast and dolce. The table was laid, the wine chilled all ready for a 12.30 - 1.00 lunch.... Yes, you've guessed it - they didn't show up for lunch and their mobiles were switched off! They [I]finally[/I] called me at 3.30, asking if I needed any shopping from the local hypermarket (???). I blew my top and asked them where the heck they had been - that the lunch was ruined and I was [U]still[/U] waiting for them to pick me up to go to Piona.

Know what? They said they had come up a bit earlier [U]because I suggested it[/U] - and passed by the Abbey, the monk was already there and so they dealt with the arrangements there and then! They then decided to get a 'quick' lunch from the hypermarket, and then see if I wanted any shopping too...

'And what about the lunch I cooked for you all?' I yelled.
'And [I]my[/I] visit to the Abbey with you all?'...

'Oh - did you invite us to lunch?' came the 'innocent' reply.
'No of course not - I just cooked for five for the fun of it!'

They said they would 'pop round', when they'd finished their shopping, to discuss the financial details of the cost of the service at the Abbey (we had suggested that we would all chip in towards it) - that was why I was going to the meeting too.

NO - I did [U][I]not[/I][/U] contribute and I told them NOT to call... I went out!

Let's face it. Timekeping in Italy is little different from UK, it depends on the individual. My young daughter who has travelled widely in Europe and North Africa says she fels most at home in Italy because they 'think like us'.

But, but, but...talking about workmen (not about friends) do you not have their cellphone number? If they are five minutes late they get a call from me. (For sure, they have forgotten the appointment, I forgive them, they expect the wake up call - THIS WORKS.)
Just stop being so stiff-upper-lippish-British. You can even call them (wake up!) before they are due. Get real.
And lunch is always at 13.00 and supper at 20.00 (local time) so asking when you should turn up is pretty stupid, in their opinion.

"Manana is good enough for me" - (sorry about the shortcomings of my keyboard, I cannot do the cidilla over the 'n').

[quote=Carole B;109062]
I have youngsters who come to me for English repetition and they are [U]ALWAYS[/U] 5, 10 or even 30 minutes late! Commenting on this to them (or their parents) has turned out to be totally fruitless.
[/B][/quote]
I've found 2 ways of dealing with this- the first is I start the class regardless of who is there (of course this only works if there is more than 1 child) and finish it on time. Therefore any child that is late doesn't get the full time they've paid for. The other thing is I have star charts and the children receive a star if they a- turn up (another issue I have is a lack of commitment to activities) and b- are on time. Because Italian children are incredibly competitive THEY want to be on time & badger their parents to be there- now the only people I have who are always late are English!!! I know some people may think these measures a bit OTT but when you are teaching 5 classes back to back or have to rush off to another town to teach something else after the class you're in something has to be done

I've been here for 8 years now but has never seen it as a problem.
Italians will phone to remind you of events that we have concorded time in advance, where I'd tend to NOT phone unless there is a change in plan. Being specific about it solves the thing.
There are some categories of people that just have to be whipped to get things done, these include:
Public energy provider
Telephone company
Metal workers

I find that 15 min late for a dinner/lunch is accepted, you should never come before the established time. If somebody wants to drop by, I always tell at what time they may find me and at what time I have to go out, it always makes them be more specific.
I'm hopelessly cronical late myself, so I don't get upset unless I have to wait more than half an hour. A personal thing, I suppose.

As a foot note to my earlier posting it appears that some Italians find it just as annoying as we do. I have 2 sisters in 1 of my aerobics classes & 1 of them is always late- last night she was the first to arrive cos her sister had told her off!!