Learning Uruguay

Every day brings ????

Time is(nt) Money

Posted by urufish on May 13, 2007

While answering a new post in another blog, it occurred to me that one phrase that sums up a lot about Uruguay is ‘Time is money’.  I think that was rule #1 when I lived up North.  In the way I worked.  In the way I played.. even (and I say this with deep regret) in the way I treated my family… wife and child.  Everything was about efficiency.  How much could I cram into a day.  I figured the more I could cram into the day, the better.  This is a concept that is alien to Uruguayans.  Here, time is limitless. 

This is one of those posts that’s going to be written over a period of days…  the more I think about it… the deeper it gets.  I asked my wife if she agreed with the concept…. and her response was an overwhelming yes.  She said it’s something that kept coming up over and over again in the 30 years she lived in Canada.  Even after 30 years, it was still a foreign concept to her. 

As today wore on, I kept trying to think of exceptions to this rule and I still cant.  Not at the bank, not at the store, not at the gas station, not with our accountant or with our lawyer.  Not with our architect or any of our trades.   Not at the car dealership.  Not at the Antel, UTE or OSE offices.  Not with my wife’s family…  Not in Maldonado.  Certainly not in Salinas or Piriapolis.  Not even in Punta!!!!  That one’s a shocker.  It’s been a long time since I came across anything so absolute.   I asked my wife for help tonight.  Maybe she can think of an exception…  Will keep looking for one this week. 

Some examples of the ‘time isn’t money’ crossed my mind while thinking on this today. 

When my daughter took ill here and needed a specialist quickly, we asked one of our friends if she knew someone.  She made a phonecall and we had an appointment the next evening at 8pm with one of the best in the country (we Googled her before we went).  An 8pm appointment with a specialist on a few hours notice!!!!!  I was bracing for a U$S1000 fee (or worse)…   She saw us at 8pm on the dot.  There was a 2nd specialist with her and an assistant.  I was really worried about the $ now.  She talked to us until 11pm… while the others examined our daughter.  At 11pm, they said they needed to do more tests…  They wanted to start the next day at noon… and go as long it took.  Multiple specialists, for 3 hours one day and (as we found out later) 6 hours the next day!!!!  Unheard of back home in Canada.  Maybe in the US, with some extraordinary bill at the end.  Ours was U$S650.   Explanation?  We were billed for what they felt was a proper charge for a diagnosis – not by how much time it took them to do it.  I kept thinking about her specialist back in Toronto who billed CAD$250/hour and 15 minutes of that hour was writing in the chart afterwards!!! 

A very dear friend of my wife left Uruguay for Canada several years ago to start a new life.  He spent the first year learning a new trade… home electronics installation.  He would leave the house around 8am and return around 11pm.  We asked him where he was from 5pm to 11pm?  He said he was working, (Uruguayan style).  He would get to the client’s home at 9am and work until around 6:00pm.  He would have dinner with the client, (for some reason they always asked him to stay for dinner).  Then he would go back to work until 9pm… sometimes 10pm.  He always charged for an 8 hour day.  This proves that the idea of ‘time isn’t money’ isn’t geographic.  It’s something each Uruguayan carries inside them.  Probably forever–like my wife.  We see this ‘timeless’ method of working here too.  Not as much in the new generation of Uruguyans, but definitely in the older generation. 

 More to come…

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One Response to “Time is(nt) Money”

  1. gabouy said

    I couldn’t agree more, I’m awaiting more on this subject

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