Why Early?

I've lived in Japan for about 18 months. Why is it that the service guys -- you know, the people who come to your house to fix something or install something or deliver something or whatever -- are always early? It drives me nuts. I can see being on time or even a few minutes late, even, but why early? And why early every time? How is this possible? Is it genetic, or something? If you say you'll be there at 9 am, and we all agree, why must I then have to do a mental calculation that goes something like this: ok, this dude is Japanese, so 9 am doesn't actually mean 9 am, it actually means any time between 8:45 and 9 am but most certainly before 9 am. That's when the phone rings. He's "just around the corner" or even "already waiting outside" my front door. Every. Single. Time. Absolutely insane. This was never a problem in California, by the way. Or Boston. Or New York. Why here?
Comments:

Cause they know your name is Jim and not Hari. So they do it to drive you nuts.

Posted by David Vasta on January 13, 2008 at 06:15 AM JST #

Heh. I think I'd much rather have that level of service rather than the typical United States mantra, "The technician will arrive between the hours of 12-4PM," which translates to an arrival time of about
5PM. Cheers, Ryan

Posted by Ryan Hodges on January 13, 2008 at 08:38 PM JST #

Yah, I agree. I've come to expect good service generally as a result of this experience. Now I just have to expect it early! :)

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on January 14, 2008 at 02:20 AM JST #

Jim, when I was growing up here in the States, it was always considered proper and courteous to arrive a few minutes early.

For work, you were expected a few minutes early to give you time to get to your desk, get your coffee, get your work materials ready, etc, etc. Phones started ringing at 8:00 (or 9:00, depending), meetings started, and you were expected to be prepared for them.

School worked the same way, you were expected to be in class, in your desk, with your book, paper, and pencil ready. The bell rang, the teacher shut the door, and class started.

It is only fairly recently (the last 10-15 years, maybe 20) that "fashionably late" has become normal and tolerated. It is a broader symptom of the problems with current American culture, where everyone feels they are more important than everyone else and where my time is more valuable than your time. I find it very disrespectful when people waste my time by not being ready at the agreed upon time.

And, my last sentence, probably has the answer in it, right there. The Japanese culture is built around respect. Being a little early is respectful of the other person's time, it tells that person that their time is more important than my time.

Posted by spp on January 14, 2008 at 03:15 PM JST #

spp ... make sense. Anything more than a few minutes late is a pain, but being too early can cut into a previously scheduled event as well. :) The Japanese have a thing with time. They are \*always\* rushing around and they cut things very, very closely. It's shocking to me to see the sequence of plains, trains, and automobiles that all seem to come together to get you to your place at just exactly on time (or early). Sleep just a few seconds too long on the platform and you miss your train! In fact, the first thing I tell people coming to Japan for the first time is to sync their watches in the airport or they may miss their train if they are even a minute off. Wild. Really wild.

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on January 15, 2008 at 05:53 AM JST #

[Trackback] Greetings from Japan ...Blogged about at Why Early&6; - sun bloggers, Here are Charlotte residents Robert and Priscilla Forney on a November trip to Japan. This photo, taken by Darryl Forney, shows them in front of the Great Buddha of Kamakura, the sec...

Posted by Connecting News, Commentaries and Blogs at NineReports.com on February 10, 2008 at 09:33 AM JST #

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