Why Are Jamaicans Always Late?

Answered by Tracie Shortridge

Being on time is arriving at least 15 minutes before the time and being late is arriving at the exact time and arriving after the time is being extremely late

That mantra was taught to me from primary school and stayed with me all the way through an all-girls strict Catholic High School into College - and into the working world.

When tourism was sold to the international audience years ago, before Jamaica became a popular tourism destination, the marketing strategy was “come to Jamaica where everything is Irie”; Irie depicted as calm, relaxed and laid back.

Over the years, this marketing strategy has changed immensely but the concept of being laid back has stuck around.

So once Jamaica is thought of, immediately the mindset is sun, fun, relaxation and no worries.

To some extent, this is quite factual. Of course, we are a nation hooked on the sun and the fun. Why not? We have constant sunshine throughout the year, nice warm temperatures and beautiful white sand beaches. So, again, why not?

However, let us get radically real now!
If I turned up at my job late every day, I guarantee you that I will not have that job for much longer.

As professionals, most Jamaicans will always ensure that they are on time for work. This would not auger well for your job performance and if you are in the service industry, a late start could mean the difference between making and losing money. Of course, if you lose the boss’ money, you know that is not good.

And, don’t forget Church. To be late for church is likened to sinning. Not only are you subjected to glaring gazes from the congregation but you feel within yourself that you have somehow missed out on the praise, worship and salvation you would have received had you been on time. Plus, you are liable to be verbally berated for being late for church so Jamaicans always endeavor to be on time for church.

But, hold it now!!
Parties and casual affairs are a totally different arena.

In Jamaica, if your party invitation says 9 p.m. you do not turn up until 10:30pm or 11:00 p.m. Being early or on time for a party in Jamaica is just totally unimaginable. The only person or persons allowed to be early are the hosts and hostesses. Everyone else, be late.

Hold that thought!

Actually, even the hosts and hostesses are not necessarily early as, after they prepare the party venue, events, food and beverage, they then take the time to ensure they are beyond fabulous looking for the event.

The fabulousness takes time and would be approached at approximately 8 p.m. so… give them at least two hours and they will be ready to welcome their first guests.

Jamaicans know how to maintain professionalism and are therefore on time for their jobs, business ventures and church but are always “fashionably late” for parties and casual engagements.

So to answer your question, I believe it is just a practice, that has been accepted or rather, accomodated.

So, come to Jamaica where the sun, fun, relaxation, smiling people, professionalism and the partying never ends!! But leave your watches at home:-)

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