Tuesday, March 15, 2005

mañana, mañana

Mexicans are famous for their laid-back attitude, and rightfully so. There’s not often a lot of urgency here in getting things done or getting places on time (like English class!), and the “mañana, mañana” approach is both widely practiced and widely tolerated.

Something seems to happen to that laid-back attitude, however, when Mexicans get behind the wheel of a car. Suddenly, they’re transformed into impatient New Yorkers or Bostonians, speeding and passing recklessly on the highways, honking aggressively in town the second a light turns green or making angry gestures at other drivers or pedestrians who slow them down. It’s really a remarkable change, especially when you compare Mexican drivers to Mexican pedestrians, who generally amble along quite slowly, casually taking in the sights around them, waiting patiently to cross a street.

I guess there just must be something about the automobile that makes people, regardless of culture, aggressive and impatient. Of course, that doesn’t go for old folks, who in any culture seem to approach driving with the careful patience of Mexican pedestrians. It’s a strange machine, the car, and it does strange things to us. Someone should do a study or something.

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