Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chaos is Fun!

Arab culture - If you have not yet figured out from my previous blog posts, is disorganized and chaotic at times. Examples: The driving...I describe as organized chaos, as you need to force your car in where you can fit it. There are not many rules of the road that are actually followed or enforced for that matter in Jordan. Making an appointment....not many places take appointments. You simply show up at 800am, with half of Amman, sit and wait for your turn. Standing in line....not many lines to be found, except at the super market, otherwise it is the one who is most assertive who gets in first. Taking turns talking is not a common courtesy in Amman - just speak up if you want yourself heard! Time....ever hear of 'Arab time', every Arab follows a different clock or not one at all. Everyone runs late, and I'm not talking about the 'fashionable late' 15 minutes we have in the US, but it is normal to be over an hour late and be welcomed as though you are early! Time doesn't matter for much in Jordan.

I am slowly getting use to all of this disorganization, but I don't necessarily like it. I use to fight it every where I go. I try to make some sort of structure of an unstructured society, not an easy and mostly impossible task.

In particularly, this disorganization is bothersome for me at work. Everything is happening quickly, with no plans or plans that change without reason or warning, no preparation, just fly by the seat of your pants and hold on! Oh - and make sure you look confident in doing whatever flies your way as it a sign of weakness to look confused or to ask many questions. I am learning how to dodge the balls as they fly past my shoulders; however, it is not my forte and not the way I like to do things. But whatever, it is what it is and I am where I am, things will not change, so I try to adopt and learn new strengths from these adaptations.

Interestingly, yesterday at work, I was talking with a Jordanian Physician who worked in the United States for quite some time. He was talking with me about our Electronic Health Record we are about to implement in his hospital. He asks me, "So how long have you lived in Jordan?" I told him, "14 months" and he goes on to say, "Well, then you know the challenges you will face with our people here. This EHR is very organized and we don't like organization." I laughed a bit at this statement because 1- it is so obviously stating the obvious and 2- it is completely understated. He says, "We Arabs, we like chaos. Chaos is fun!" Obviously taken back by this new idea of chaos is fun, he continues to explain how structure is boring and can be quite stressful. Whereas chaos is fun and exciting. He compared it to being a teenager and how teenagers enjoy jumping from one thing to the next, without structure. How teenagers, in general, love the unstructured lifestyle and that Arabs are too like and would like to stay teenagers. Arabs like this chaotic environment as apposed to structure. I told him that I disagree with him, but that I would adopt his new idea that chaos is fun, just to help me get through the day - whether it is for a coping mechanism or for a good laugh -I'm not sure, but I am quite sure that I don't agree with the idea that it is fun....!

To each there own. We are all different. Whatever works for you! It is what it is. These are some of my most overused statements. I would say each can be used to describe my conversation with the physician :-)


  1. Well, at least things never get boring :)
    That's how I get through my work day with the teenagers!

  2. As I read Lindsay's entry, I would like to say that: your dad and I were never bored when you and Lindsay were teenagers!

    Love, Mom

  3. i know what you mean! it's driving me nuts! am for a tiny bit of chaos, but not this much :)