Last Monday, I left my apartment in Pedregal de Santo Domingo in Mexico City to get some food and visit a pharmacy.
As I walked outside, I see the lady selling gorditas by the corner isn’t available yet.
Which is what I wanted to eat – gorditas.
Anyway, I carry on towards the pharmacy.
And there’s literally a long line of easily 10 people stretching out from the pharmacy hall into the street.
While there’s things I like about this neighborhood, that’s one thing I don’t like.
Though there are numerous pharmacies on this street, there’s one specific one that I prefer to visit.
And that one specific one is literally always full with a line stretching out into the sidewalk.
Every single time.
You can’t go to that pharmacy without easily an hour wait.
At that point, I think to myself that it’d probably be better to just go north instead.
One metro station north of me is Metro Copilco.
I used to live by that area and it’s only like 5 minutes to get there using the metro.
And one of the best places I have been to for gorditas in Mexico City is literally just right outside Copilco metro station.
“Fuck it, I’ll go north.”
“The Young People Lack Education”
Once I arrive to Copilco metro, I walk outside and head straight for the pharmacy that is right behind it.
As I walk up to it, I see that there are about 4 people waiting and one person inside the room already.
“Ah god damn it” I thought.
Anyway, I sit down and decide that I’m going to be waiting apparently.
To be fair though, I actually only had to wait in front of 3 people and not 5.
There was a mother sitting in front of me with her kid.
And a random older woman sitting down on a chair with a middle aged man kneeling down beside her talking up her ear.
After about 10 minutes, the lady inside walks out.
But she’s not done!
The mother stands up to take her kid inside but the doctor informs her that the last patient is coming back soon.
Give it about another 10 minutes and the patient returns with a bunch of medicines in her hand.
Another 5 minutes pass.
Then the mother gets her chance and takes the kid inside.
At that point, a fat young man walks in and sits down seemingly tired as he closes his eyes and head down.
And I could feel his pain.
It was probably around 2 PM and, funny enough, I had been going to bed at around 2 to 3 PM over the last few days.
Primarily because I have such odd hours for sleeping as I work from home and do my work whenever I feel like it.
Tonight, I’ll probably have a slightly more normal sleep schedule and go to bed at around 7 to 8 PM as I push my sleep schedule back up.
Anyway, I’m tired as fuck also and really just want to get this over with so I can have a gordita, spend a few hours relaxing and go to bed at around 5 PM that Monday.
As the mother walks in to see the doctor though, the older lady moves seats and sits in front of me.
The man talking up her ear moves with her and keeps the conversation going.
Well, to be fair, it wasn’t much of a conversation.
She kept looking at him and nodding away while getting a few words in every so often.
But it was mostly him giving her a very long and never ending monologue.
The monologue focusing almost entirely on “how he doesn’t drink, I have fun in other ways unlike young people today” and “young people don’t have education.”
He then proceeds to demonstrate how young people don’t have education.
He takes her hand and gives it a shake and says “good day.”
Right after saying “good day,” he kisses her hand.
“No young person does that these days. They all just put their hand up and wave. Young people today don’t have education.”
She seemed interested in what he had to say though.
And, later on, it seemed like they were actually together and he wasn’t just some homeless religious person harassing someone (which was my initial suspicion).
At any rate, the wait continues.
The mother was very much taking her time.
Easily 45 minutes if not more.
Anyway, some blonde woman walks up to the area and asks “whose next?”
The older couple talking in front of me raised their hands.
“Can I skip ahead of you guys? I’m in an emergency.” She says.
“Sure, no problem” the rambling man says.
“God damn it, another person to wait behind” I thought.
At any rate, the mother walks out when she does.
The blonde woman walks in and is out in 5 minutes.
Then the older woman walks in and leaves behind the rambling man.
He then turns his attention to me.
“How Does One Shake Hands?”
I’m getting close to just napping in this pharmacy now.
It’s easily been almost 2 hours of waiting.
The longest I ever had to wait in one of these pharmacies.
It normally takes 20 minutes at most.
And I haven’t slept in basically a full day.
Anyway, the guy turns his attention to me.
And, I shit you not, he literally gives me the exact same monologue as he gave her.
Literally word for word.
The same speech where he asks me “what do you like to do for fun?”
Then he proceeds to say how “he doesn’t drink. Everyone thinks you need to drink to have fun. I go to parks. I take walks. I play card games with my friends.”
During this whole time, I’m not really engaging in the conversation either and just nodding away.
God damn I’m tired.
He then gives me the talk about how “young people just aren’t educated these days.”
Takes my hand to shake it.
Leans his head down to kiss it.
All with a “buenos dias” included.
At any rate, I think he got the message that I wasn’t that interested in talking.
I wasn’t rude but I didn’t really contribute anything bad. At least the lady was saying words back.
Finally, she walks out.
He gives her 50 pesos to pay for the appointment as she forgot her purse.
They walk away.
I go inside.
Get my TRT injected in a minute or two.
After waiting basically 2 hours.
During the whole time I was waiting, I was thinking “god damn, this is taking forever.”
And I saw a sign by the front door that said “knock and sit down to wait.”
It’s a word well-known in Mexico.
I often say to myself “en Mexico, hay que esperar.”
“En Mexico, Hay Que Esperar”
To be fair, the example above isn’t the worst example I’ve seen of this.
A wait at the doctor’s office?
More notable in my mind though given how recent it was and the whole kissing on my hand thing that was weird.
But the point of the story is something else not involving kissing random stranger’s hands.
The point being that, as you live in Latin America, you notice just how long you have to wait for shit to happen.
This could mean waiting for certain things to become popular down here like they are popular in the US.
It could mean waiting on someone who is late to meeting you with no reason other than they don’t know how to handle time.
It could also mean, as I want to emphasize here, just how slow people act on stuff.
Where you seemingly can’t go a full day without someone just taking their sweet ass time getting something done.
For example, before I moved to Pedregal de Santo Domingo, I was living in the north of the city.
Left to get some street food.
I think I ordered tostadas.
While the lady had like two customers, she wasn’t extremely busy.
And you know how long it took her to get to my food?
Literally 40 minutes.
This is street food – not a restaurant.
And she only had 2 customers in front of me.
What was she doing?
Checking her phone.
Lots of checking her phone.
And I had to wait 40 minutes for some basic tostadas that takes a minute to make.
Or take the metro as another example.
Just the other day, I was in the train headed north to the center of the city.
It stopped randomly.
We waited maybe 15 minutes for it to restart and keep going.
While I’m not sure why the wait, I can only guess that it was maybe because of some issue stemming from the garbage people throw into the tracks?
I’ve heard it causes problems.
But who knows what the issue was.
Either way, there’s really two broader points here that I’ve likely said before but just want to reemphasize when it comes to life in Latin America.
First, there’s a difference between going on vacation down here versus living down here.
The guy who worked 10 years with so much horrible commute can finally have his vacation in a Cancun resort for 3 days.
To him, the slow pace is nice compared to the fast pace he had back home.
The difference is though that he’s at a resort where things probably work on time anyhow.
And he’s not trying to do normal people things like do groceries, take the train, go to the pharmacy, etc.
The slow pace at life, in those moments, can sometimes be annoying if the wait time is excessive.
Second, you have to get used to it though.
Adjust to the flow of life however you can.
If you don’t, you’ll go crazy.
You’ll wonder why are people here so seemingly incompetent that they can’t do anything faster than snail’s pace.
But that’s the gringo in me thinking that.
In contrast, I’ve heard Mexicans complain about how their time in the US was stressful with Americans really pressuring them too much to be on time with things like I wrote here.
It’s a cultural difference.
In the end though, you have to have the attitude that the older man had in the story above.
Some woman asks to cut in line and he had no issue with that.
“Sure, go ahead. We got all day. The only thing on my to do list today is have a Spanish siesta and play card games with my friends.”
At the end of the day, you have to learn to walk slower than walk faster.
To ignore the clock once in a while.
And not too get annoyed at the seemingly excessive wait times for things like street food.
Of course, you don’t have to reward it either.
Just don’t think about it too much and learn to enjoy life at the slower pace while, whenever making plans to do something, just remember to not have high expectations that it’ll be done quickly.
Add some extra time into your schedule for anything you want to do. Assume it’ll take longer.
And enjoy life at that slower pace to the best of your ability.
At any rate, that’s all I got to say.
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