“I threw away the watch when I came here”, says Jason of Land & Sea, a sports rental shop on Norfolk Island. “You just have to give into it”.
Jason sure has given into it. The bikes I booked months ago are sitting in Jason’s garage waiting repairs and, by the look of things, will stay there until after we’ve gone. I note that the “Back in Five” sign is permanently on display even when he is there. He tells us he is not making any money so he may as well enjoy himself and he takes Wednesday afternoons off to go to the beach. I’m happy for him, really I am. The world needs more relaxed people. I just wish I was one of them. I also just wish I had the bikes I ordered and am prepared to pay bright shiny Sydney money for would materialise.
But that’s island time for you. From Norfolk Island to Fiji to Tonga to Tahiti, island time is trotted out pretty quickly. The moment a question, idea, call to arms, coffee order or bike hire request is made, good old island time is mentioned and if things get a bit heated, then it’s accompanied by a shrug of the shoulders.
There really is no good retort to Island Time. No point threatening them (if they are a Tongan their pinky finger is fatter than your forearm), sarcasm just drips off their back and straight out complaining about how this would never work where you come is met with yet another shrug and a smile.
But really what is island time? Is it genuinely a way of life or is it an excuse for being lazy? And why can’t they just put aside island time for five minutes to get something ready for a tourist, who ultimately is paying the bills, so that someone else gets to keep living on an island.
Because I haven’t thrown away my watch yet even if I am on holidays.