Thursday, November 09, 2006

An excuse for everything

I love living in Indiana. I say this because living in Indiana means that I have an excuse for everything: daylight savings time. Let me explain.

Until this past spring, Indiana was one of I believe just two states in the US that did not adhere to daylight savings time. Technically we lived all year on Eastern Standard Time, though the fact that most of the rest of the country set its clocks ahead by one hour in the spring meant that we effectively lived in two time zones. From early April to the end of October our clocks were the same as those who adhered to Central Daylight Time (most of our proximate westerly neighbors), and from early November to the end of March our clocks were the same as those who adhered to Eastern Standard Time (most of our easterly neighbors). What resulted was utter chaos and confusion, less for those of us living in Indiana than for friends and loved ones who lived elsewhere. I wish I had a dollar for the number of times someone left a message on my answering machine to the effect of, "Hi, it's me. It's 2:00 here in New York, which means it's, uh, what time is it in Indiana...?"

Well, as it turns out, our current Governor, Mitch Daniels, wanted to settle the Indiana time zone issue once and for all. After much wrangling, this past spring Indiana finally decided to abide by daylight savings time. I gather that a few border counties opted out, but for the most part Indiana is now eastern time zone. What's resulted is still more chaos and confusion, but this time those of us living in Indiana are the ones most directly affected.

The crux of the matter is, some folks here resent, make an excuse of, or simply don't understand the concept of daylight savings time. Not long after our first "spring ahead" time change, Indiana was inundated with destructive thunderstorms and tornadoes. A student of mine told me that a radio DJ blamed the storms on the fact that we now had an extra hour of daylight, which must be heating the earth more than usual. No kidding. Later, as summer approached, my town, Bloomington, experienced something of a minor crime wave. The culprit? Daylight savings time, giving criminals more sun by which to perpetrate their dastardly deeds. (What self respecting criminal works by daylight?) And finally, as I was watching ABC's election returns coverage on Tuesday night, the anchor blamed the loss of three Republican congressional seats here to--you guessed it--Republican Mitch Daniels' drive to get Indiana to adhere to daylight savings time.

So, if you ever find yourself in Indiana and in trouble, you know the drill. Blame it on daylight savings time. Don't laugh. It probably will work.

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