July 13, 2024
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July 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I just came across a news article titled, “Massachusetts Is Considering Leaving the Eastern Time Zone.” And good for them. It’s about time.

Apparently, in the last couple of years, the government of Massachusetts formed a commission to talk about changing their state to an earlier time zone—the Atlantic Time Zone—because there’s really nothing else to do in Massachusetts after 4 p.m. unless you want to talk about the weather. Weather is a huge topic of conversation over there. My in-laws live in a small town in Massachusetts, and my mother-in-law still talks about the time they had a layer of snow on their sukkah 40 years ago. She tells us this every year when she sits down in our sukkah in New Jersey in the 90-degree weather, wearing her coat.

Shalom bayis note: I’m not specifically making fun of Massachusetts because my in-laws live there. I’m specifically making fun of Massachusetts because, besides New York and New Jersey, it’s the state that I’ve spent the most time in… because my in-laws live there. That’s very different.

But no doubt this whole idea of Massachusetts switching to an earlier time zone leaves you with many questions, your first one being, “There’s something east of the Eastern Time zone? Why do we even call it the Eastern Time Zone?”

This whole idea is the work of Massachusetts citizen Tom Emswiler, who moved there from Virginia in 2011 and wasn’t prepared for the early sunsets. He eventually got enough people on his side, and now the government is seriously considering the change.

They also want to abandon Daylight Savings Time. Which is just as well, because no one likes switching their clocks.

Sure, we all know how to do it. It’s “Spring ahead; fall back.” That’s great. What if you call it “autumn”?

Also, everyone remembers “fall back,” but no one remembers what that means practically.

“Let’s see. We moved the clock back, which means that if I go to bed at 12, it’s really 1. Or 11.”

Eventually, we all stop doing the math in our heads out of sleep deprivation, and then everyone acclimates.

But not without cost. In fact, studies link the start of DST to people driving erratically and getting into car accidents (probably from trying to figure out how to change the time in their cars), and they link the early darkness after DST to depression. (You go to work in the dark; you come home in the dark. Did the sun even come up today?)

On the other hand, you’ll say, why not adopt Daylight Savings Time all the time? Think about it: If Daylight Savings Time helps people have daylight after work and use natural light in the evenings to stare at their phones, and whatever it is it helps the farmers do, why not keep the clocks at Daylight Savings Time all year, especially when the days are shorter? Let’s give those farmers a break. What are the benefits of Standard Time? Tradition? And don’t give me this “There are no crops in the winter” business, because someone still has to milk the cows.

But in effect, that’s what Massachusetts is doing—having permanent Daylight Savings Time. Leave it to Massachusetts to overcomplicate things. Instead of saying, “Let’s just keep DST,” they’re saying, “We want to adopt AST and dump DST.”

The reason they have to do it this way, though, is that by federal law, a state can opt out of Daylight Time but not Standard Time. It’s illegal, and the entire state could go to prison. So to beat the system, they have to adopt Atlantic Standard Time, and then cancel the Daylight Savings Time.

For me, all this would do is make life more confusing. Like if I’m going to go to my in-laws for Shabbos, I’d say, “Shabbos here starts at 4:17. What time does Shabbos start there?” And they’d say, “4:54.” And I’d say, “Great! That’s… Wait. You mean 3:54.” And they’d say, “I don’t know. We call it 4:54 over here.” Now before they changed time zones, Shabbos would’ve started at 3:54, but once they change zones, I have to go back and forth just to figure out that it’s still 3:54. So all I’m gaining is a headache. Fortunately, I don’t go to my in-laws enough for this to be a problem.

I also don’t think my in-laws will like this, because it means everything in their lives would be starting later. My in-laws like to wake up early. I’m pretty sure they wake up at 5 a.m. every day. So if they’re moved to an earlier time zone, they’re going to be waking up at 4 and milling about for hours, loudly asking each other why we’re not awake yet. And then going to go to bed during supper.

I know this doesn’t affect everyone in the same way. I’m pretty sure that most people do not have in-laws in Massachusetts.

So after a year of talking this over, the commission decided that first of all, if they made the switch, they’d have to have the schools start later so kids aren’t going to school in the dark. In other words, everyone will be on Atlantic Time except the kids. Who’s bringing them to school?

But other than that, the commission said, the change is actually a good idea, but only if everyone else does it. Their recommendation is for all of New England to go along with them, plus New York. That sounds great. I’m not in New York, but I live right next to it. So let’s move the border of this problem to my doorstep! We’ll have people coming into New York and driving erratically, and then coming into New Jersey and feeling depressed… Wait. We already have that.

In case you think I only make fun of Massachusetts.

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He also has six books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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