Two night ago, my girlfriend was at my apartment (in Taoyuan) watching a movie with me. Her sister (who lives in Zhunan) rang her up and said she was at their parents’ house (Neili) and told my girlfriend to come over because they were all going to see a movie. This was all completely unannounced (her sister had actually told everyone she was coming over the following day for lunch).
At first, my girlfriend was going to go, but I told her that was incredibly rude to me, so she told her sister she couldn’t go. Now her sister is pissed off with me. I said you can’t just turn up unannounced and expect someone to drop what they’re doing, especially if they’re doing it with someone else. You call ahead with a reasonable amount of notice and see if someone is free first, otherwise you take your chances. My girlfriend kind of agreed, but she said it’s a cultural thing. I’m having a hard time accepting that the person who gets left in the lerch in such a situation would think that’s acceptable in pretty well any culture because it implies that they’re not that important. On the other hand, as happened a couple of times, her sister said she would arrive at a particular time, was late by several hours (and didn’t call, let alone explain why), and then got upset again that we stayed for about fifteen minutes after she arrived because we had other plans for the evening. There seems to be a complete inability or unwillingness to think of other people and the fact that they most likely have a whole lot of other things going on in their lives that they can’t or won’t just drop or put on hold simply because someone can’t get their shit together.
It brings into focus a deeper issue regarding time in general. I know we Westerners (to varying degrees) are more precise about time over here than Taiwanese (in fact, I’d say Taiwanese are exceptionally casual/rude about time), but what I don’t get is that if people here can manage to catch a plane on time or turn up to certain other things on time, why can’t they extend that across the board? I find it all especially strange, given how rushed everything is in this country, that people aren’t more punctual and demanding of punctuality.
Has anyone had any similar experiences? Does anyone have any thoughts on this matter?