Dan Rattiner's Stories

Time Zone Changes: An Hour Later in Montauk, an Hour Earlier in Westhampton Beach

As we approach the winter solstice, which is on December 21, I think it is time again to assess this situation. On that day, the sun will set right after lunch. But have no fear, the next day it will set one minute later. Who dreams up this stuff up? Finland has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. On the day of the solstice, I believe, here in America we leap up in suicide rate and don’t return to normal until April.

Why does this have to be? It’s some kind of hocus-pocus mathematics. The earth wobbles on its axis. It’s tipped over anyway. We swing around further out sometimes and further in at others. The sun, I don’t know what the sun does. Isn’t it a fact it’s light on every side?

It makes a person think about another odd thing. Life spans. When I was a little boy and people told me we only live on average to 70, I asked myself, wouldn’t it make life simpler if life spans were 100? The old people, the lucky ones, would get a chance to live a few years after a hundred. We could feel sorry for those that fell a few years short. I could wrap my mind around a hundred. One hundred. Boom. That’s it.

But recently it’s made me think about another odd thing. I was on a Pacific island where the time zones were out of whack. We were in one time zone. But all around us, everybody else nearby was in another time zone. What they were thinking, I don’t know.

But since I’ve been back here in the Hamptons, I’ve thought further about this—here was another wacky business. And I thought, why don’t we mess around with our time zones? There’s a lot to be said for this.

I think Westhampton Beach would benefit greatly from having a time zone one hour earlier, Central Standard Time. Westhampton Beach prides itself on being the shortest distance from the city of any Hampton. Do the good people of Westhampton Beach realize what it would be like to leave New York at 5 p.m. and then instead of arriving at 6:45 they arrived at 5:45? What a blessing! They’d have a whole longer evening to enjoy that town when they get here, and, if they set their watches back an hour when they get here they could proudly say that they were only 45 minutes away from Manhattan. Imagine that!

From the perspective of us out here in Southampton or East Hampton, there would be a further benefit. Most shows at the movies start at 7:30 p.m. If you want to see one you have to rush through dinner. So why not go over to Westhampton Beach and have a leisurely dinner before coming back for the movie near home? It would be so easy if they made everyone set their clocks back when they got to Westhampton Beach.

Another town that could benefit from a change in time zone would be Montauk. Montauk is another world. You almost expect a different time zone there. Make it an hour later there. You go out to a night spot in Montauk at 8 p.m. and you don’t have to wait around for hours and hours before things start shaking. Then, come 1 a.m., everybody would start getting tired. You’d look at the clock and, by golly, it would be two. Where did the time go? Time for last call, drink up and pack up. And when you get home, it’s not three in the morning, it’s actually two. You pretty much get a good night’s sleep.

I can think of lots and lots of other benefits of changing the time zones of Westhampton Beach and Montauk, not the least of which would be the solving of the trade parade. No doubt about it. Instead of one big long line of cars and trucks heading west at 5:30, the whole thing would all be spread out over three different 5:30s. End of problem.

Any other good things coming from changing those time zones? Write me at dan@danspapers.com. Anytime between 9 and 5.

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