Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Impatient or Efficient?

by Marie Tjernlund
My alarm went off at 7:25am. Within 45 minutes, I showered, dressed and was out the door. My classmates and I walked briskly to class which started promptly at 8:30am. We had a few extra minutes so we stopped and ordered a cappuccino in a local café. I watched the barista assemble white cups and saucers on a round tray. Milk steamed and freshly ground coffee beans were finely ground.

I glanced at my watch. More than 10 minutes had gone by. We were definitely going to be late for class. Awkwardly, we communicated to our hostess that we needed our coffee “for the road.” I caught her eyes. Without missing a beat, she grabbed small paper cups and hastily poured our delicate drinks into the transportable containers. We plunked down our euros, shouted our “Ciaos” and ran to class. A couple of swigs later, the coffee was gone.

The cultural mismatch in this event isn’t so much about the food but rather about how we use our time. In Cagli, the cappuccino is a means to slow down, take a break, savor the moment. For me, the beverage was a vehicle to get going, wake up and take on the day. While I meant no disrespect by running out with my cappuccino, I’m venture to guess that I only added to the image of the rude and impatient American. In my culture at home, my behavior would most likely be interpreted as efficient.

Which one is the better use of me? I may not know now, but I am grateful for the opportunity to finally ask it.