In the Beginning, God created Tico Time and then…

By Deacon John De Gano

 When God created the heavens and the earth and set the planets in rotation around the sun he called the darkness “night” and the brightness “day.” And he said that it was “good.”

 Man, however, in his desire to conquer and subdue the earth, created the calendar with its seasons, daylight savings time, the sundial and clock with its hours, minutes and seconds. We designed this system to harness time that we North Americans adhere so promptly to in our busy schedules and planning that we are often ignorant of time as viewed by the people in the rest of the world.

 Many of us are aware of the concept of “siesta” (mid-day break) but that concept has not taken root here as it has elsewhere. If anything, our economy drives the work force to work more hours (not fewer) in order to be able to buy more stuff.

 Many years ago, Cheryl and I experienced this time dissonance while serving as volunteer museum docents. 

 The local civic leaders had invited a newly established sister city delegation from Costa Rica to visit our fair city and our museum was on the short list of places to see and things to do while in the country.

 Wanting to show our visitors the richness of our region, the local coordinators put together a fairly ambitious itinerary, beginning with breakfast with the city leaders, followed by a bus tour that would include a stop for lunch at Edward’s Mansion in Redlands, and a drive up to Lake Arrowhead, etc.

 Almost immediately there was a snafu. The people were not up and dressed when the bus arrived to pick them up. The delay led the committee to pack up the food so that our guests could eat it as they rode through the city and countryside.

 Without our knowledge, we had experienced our first taste of Costa Rican “tico time.”

 Allow me to define tico time, as it was explained to me:

 “Is the bus on time?” “Yes.” 

 An hour later. 

 “Didn’t you say the bus was on time?” “Yes.” 

 “But the schedule says it was due half an hour ago.” 

 “It’ll be here.” 

 “Then it’s late!” 

 “No. It’ll arrive when it needs to arrive. Could be today... Could be tomorrow... But it will be here.”

 That’s “tico time.” 

 Perhaps it’s similar to one of our church sayings … “It’s in God’s time, not ours.”

 And maybe we all should be more cognizant of this time gap. After all, we only have so much time to live so maybe we should adjust our busy schedules in order to enjoy more of the life God has provided to us.

 In the case of our Costa Rican visitors, they wanted time to go shopping – for appliances… at Kmart.

 While the committee considered what to do, the bus driver (who just happened to be one of our members) brought them over to our museum for a tour.

 It was there that I learned what tico time was and that they had heard of Kmart through our TV broadcasts (and commercials!) that they receive over their satellite antennas. They even brought their shopping lists with them.

 In the end, the committee scrapped their schedule and as the bus pulled away, we were reminded of another oft-quoted saying, “Man plans, God laughs.” 

 And so a good, relaxing time was had by all that Saturday… at Kmart.

John De Gano is a deacon at St. Catherine of Alexandria parish in Riverside.