“Er-a-beek time. ER-A-BEEK time! ER-A-BEEK ER-A-BEEK ER-A-BEEK Time!”
Dearborners of the 90’s will recall this funny little tune from the evening lineup of the Arabic television station “Sada El Arab”, which was, until the advent of Internet and satellite TV, Dearborn’s only link to the Arab world. But Arabic Time isn’t just a childhood memory; it’s a code of law! It’s a highly precise mode of communication that governs the biological clock of Dearborners everywhere.
So, what do the U.S. and Dearborn have in common? They both run on their own units of measurement that are detached from the rest of the world. For the U.S., it’s Fahrenheit, the Standard System, and football. Dearborn, on the other hand, runs on its own clock. And that piece of junk lost its tick a long time ago.
Outsiders, the temporal units of measurement below are important to consider whenever you’re visiting Dearborn. Read carefully, and refer to these figures often. Otherwise, you’ll be showing up a half hour early to an event that’s starting an hour and a half late.
Out Of Time As a rule of thumb, remember this: Arabic Time is NEVER on time, and NEVER early. “Seven” means seven thirty, “five” means six, and “later” means I forgot we were even supposed to meet! Whatever time was agreed upon, show up 20-30 minutes after that. The more momentous the event, the later you should be. For example, be fifteen minutes late to a coffee date, but two hours late to a banquet. Below are some exceptions.
Wedding Time The invitation says six. It also says don’t bring children. But we know better. The wedding starts at eight, and we’ll show up at seven hoisting the infant under one arm and dragging the toddler with the other. We also know that our hosts were kind enough to designate seats for each of our cute bundles of noise AND for each of our purses / articles of luggage. You know how we do!
Work Time Fellow outsider, I hope you never have to work shifts with a Dearborner. Because unless your clock is a half hour behind when he arrives and a half hour ahead when he leaves, you’re getting an ulcer in no longer than a week. We show up late, and we need to leave early to pick up our cousins from HFCC.
But our shift ends at midnight? What’s your point?
Meet-up Time If she’s picking you up, she’s gonna be late. We’re talking a 30-45 minute delay. If you’re meeting somewhere instead, it’s a 15-30 minute delay. These are pretty accurate estimates, so coordinate accordingly.
Funeral Time This measurement of time is not as defined. It’s not so much a matter of time as a matter of circumstance. You still must show up late (of COURSE!), but the object of your arrival is to be seen and noticed by as many people as humanly possible. Experts usually go for one of two options:
- Wait until everyone has been seated, the family has been comforted, and the funeral sermons have begun. Then briskly walk in through the central aisle and approach the front where the casket is laid out. Visually express your grief and pity, and then shake hands with everyone in the front row as animatedly as possible (hugs, kisses, sobs, wails, things like that). Walk all the way to the back again, and be seated.
- Sit nearest to the front row, but get up to use the bathroom, get water and coffee, cry, and comfort those around you. Do this every five minutes, Arabic Time (so every ten minutes).
Ramadead-If-You’re-Late Time There is ONE—and I mean only ONE—exception in Arabic Time. And that is iftar time in Ramadan. In this single case, Arabic Time is Very. Very. Precise. Don’t be early, of course. But you better walk in that door within five minutes of iftar time and not a SECOND LATER! Otherwise, you’ve affronted the heavens and they’re never calling you over again.
When you do arrive, don’t be alarmed that everyone’s huddled around the heaped dinner table cocking a handful of dates to their mouths like loaded pistols. Also, disregard that one weird guy who’s off to the side sitting on a tiny crooked rug with his face, hands, and feet damp. That’s called prayer. We’re all supposed to do that first, by the way.