Thursday, March 08, 2007

inefficiency matters

In Nicaragua, time is spent, not kept.

The duration of things like getting to work are lengthened when the bus driver stops for anyone on the side of the road who hails him down. Lunch in most places only begins to be prepared once you order it. Paying bills at the bank involves standing in a long line and watching banking cashiers triple count money and make small talk with one another.

This is not an "efficient" culture. Sometimes that’s okay with me. Take Tuesday for example. I mentioned traveling to Chichigalpa—a 2 hour bus ride from Managua. I left early in the morning, had 3 hours of meetings with folks there, and then another 2 hour trip home. Of the traditional 8 hour work day, less than half was “productive” by US cultural standards. But was I frustrated? No. Mildly annoyed? Not even a little bit.

Tuesday, however, stands in stark contrast to Wednesday. All I wanted to do was print some invitations for the upcoming dedication of the new multi-purpose campus of the Nehemiah Center. But the color printer was not cooperating. Every time I tried to load the paper, it loaded incorrectly, causing the system to freeze up, and requiring a shut down/restart of my computer. Even after a defrag and the best attempts by a coworker to resolve the issue, 5:30pm came and went, and the beautiful invites remained locked in electronic form on my hard drive. I spent all day trying to accomplish one thing. And I did not accomplish it. Of the 8 hour workday, perhaps 1 hour was “productive”. Was I frustrated? Absolutely. Annoyed? That’s putting it mildly.

Why is it that the inefficiency involved in 4 hours of travel in one day barely caused me to bat an eyelash, but the inefficiency and time wasted by not finding a solution to a computer problem that wound up being resolved today in under 2 hours was enough to bring me to tears?

4 comments:

Heather said...

because you think you have control over computer issues but you know you have no control over the buses whatsoever. I'm so excited to hear Nejapa's ready for a grand opening!!

soupablog said...

because you secretly want a Mac.

anya said...

because you expected the travel to be long, but you expected the computer to work the first time. It's all about our expectations.

amelia said...

I was going to say exactly what heather said--and ditto what anya said. hugs!