Taking one’s time

I think my personality is incompatible with Northern work culture. And not just in terms of my own dislike of deadlines, speedy deliveries, high efficiency and other contributors to stressful environments, no, I also seem to hold others to my own “low” standards.

My bathroom renovation team did 14-hour days and were very set on getting things done properly and fast. I let them know several times that I have all the time in the world, there is no rush, and they are free to do it at any speed they like. They didn’t of course change their ways and did their 14-hour days regardless.

My dressmaker (I’m having a coat custom-made) apologised for not making it to our appointment because her child was ill. I wished the child to get well soon and was all relaxed. I do need that coat soon-ish, but I’m not the least upset by the delay. I’ve been going around with the old one – with a slightly torn pocket – for half the winter. A week here or there doesn’t change anything. The torn pocket is a bit embarrassing, but it gets dark early. And people can think me impoverished if they like. I can take that.

I was familiar with my own dislike of rigid schedules and deadlines, but it has been somewhat of a new realisation that I treat others as I want to be treated too. Here, my laissez-faire attitude can raise eyebrows and confuse people who are used to more regulated and defined schedules and demanding customers. I’m not lax on quality, absolutely the opposite, but everything else, yes. If the situation permits.

I’ve heard that this sort of disregard and avoidance of inflexible deadlines is characteristic of the artistic types in general. And people in the South. Of course, the downside is that one never gets anything done. That everything takes forever and it’s impossible to do business if people turn up at meetings an hour later and have only half the things done. If something really has to be done speedily, I do pull myself together and would get frustrated if others loitered, but if there is no real urgency, no one waiting, only the urgency we have created ourselves, why not take things slow? What’s the point of setting artificial deadlines if it really makes no difference? I do personally need some structure, or the not getting anything done can happen, but I like my structure to resemble a window frame rather than a cage. Borders, but not prison bars.

I’ve often wondered why some clients in translating order their translations by Friday evening. What are they going to do with it on Friday evening? They could just let us do it by Monday morning and might get better quality. But translating, the way it is usually done, is a messed up field. Speed and fake efficiency is generally preferred over quality. Foreign clients sometimes create translation memories and term bases to raise efficiency. They expect strict adherence to these things, but without understanding the language and context, a lot of time is wasted arguing with such clients that the word in the term base is absolutely inappropriate in a particular sentence. The main problem is that customers can’t generally tell the quality is rubbish, and so, translators can stay in business providing low-quality translations since 2007.

I imagine the same thing is happening in a lot of fields where speed and quantity of output is more important than quality. Lip service is paid to quality, but it is rare for a company or an individual to be able to provide quantity and speed without it impacting quality. It can be done, and because it can be done, it forces everyone on the market to attempt it, but I’m not optimistic about it working out long-term, if at all. For jobs requiring mental effort, high concentration is not even possible for 8 or more hours without breaks. I’ve done 14-hour days in translating. It’s exhausting. It can be done, but I wouldn’t sign a warranty for my work under such circumstances. Sadly, salaries are paid on quantity, not quality, so there isn’t a choice sometimes.

Hmm. To rant or not to rant? I’m itching to rant, but to illustrate it, I’d need to take a picture. And the uploading takes time, and light is bad. Well, maybe I’ll add the photo later.

I bought boots a few years ago. I couldn’t find a perfect pair, so these were a replacement pair until I would spot better ones. I did find a better pair soon enough, so those got left in the closet in good condition. Then one day I thought I’d wear them for a change. I put them on and spent an entire day out, meeting people and hanging around in public places. It had been dark when I put the boots on and I was completely unsuspecting. Outside, I discovered the fake leather on the boots had completely peeled off, and kept peeling off more and more as I was walking, it was terrible. Combine this with my torn coat pocket. I felt I must look like a homeless person and this time I was embarrassed too. These boots had been perfectly okay when I stored them in the closet, so they had self-destroyed while just sitting there….And they weren’t even that cheap.

I don’t really understand economy that well. Maybe there is some reason for which we need to produce so much crap instead of good quality items that would last. Beyond the reason that once we are on that particular train and stuck in that thinking of “more is better”, you can’t get off any more without major disruptions and a new philosophy altogether. Maybe there is a reason, a true reason. And this wish of mine for quality without paying a fortune is completely dated, so I should simply adjust myself to the idea that T-shirts can be washed 10 times and then they are past their wear-by-date. And boots too. In the future, I got to check shoes and boots for signs of self-destruction. I didn’t think planned obsolescence existed in footwear.

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