No more falling back in the fall?
Last week, the Alabama House of Representatives passed SB 388 with a vote of 93-1 to make daylight saving time (DST) permanent. (And yes, there is no “s” on saving. I know, it sounds weird to me too.) It passed the Senate unanimously (29-0) on April 20.
The one dissenting vote in the House, Rep. Mary Moore, D-Birmingham, told media she thought it could be harmful to “the working men and women of Alabama.”
Not really sure how more daylight can be harmful to working folks, but OK. Maybe she has something specific in mind.
It will go to Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk to sign, but then what happens? We immediately say sayonara to standard time? We throw away our flashlights and burn our glow-in-the-dark attire (assuming one owns such attire)? No more falling back in the fall?
Well, not exactly.
Around 15 other states have passed similar pieces of legislation, but until the U.S. Congress acts on this, we will all have to continue our biannual journeys back and forward in time. The Sunshine Protection Act of 2021 (S 623) would amend the Uniform Time Act of 1966 and make DST the permanent standard time. The bipartisan bill was first introduced in 2018 but died in committee. It was reintroduced by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, in March and has been assigned to the Commerce Committee for review, where it could once again meet its untimely death.
It seems like a no-brainer to do this around these parts. Who doesn’t want to have a little daylight left to enjoy after a long day at the office? DST gives us that beautiful, wondrous gift each spring.
That first week after we spring forward definitely puts a little spring in my step, makes me want to skip the light fantastic, whatever that means, take the dog and kids for an extra-long walk, chat with the neighbors, fire up the grill, you get the idea.
DST actually coincided with many of the first COVID shutdowns last year. Can you imagine how much scarier and literally darker that time would have felt if it had started during standard time? Being able to cry outside on your back patio on a nice spring evening about the uncertainty of your family’s health and business’s survival was definitely preferable to a winter nervous breakdown.
But like everything else, it’s not that simple.
People living on the western edges of some U.S. time zones wouldn’t see sunrises until nearly 9 a.m. during certain parts of the year if this bill should pass. They argue it would be dangerous for children who were trying to catch buses or walking/riding their bikes to school. I get that.
And, yeah, I am not sure I would be down for a 9 a.m. sunrise either. You would feel like your workday started at midnight. And forget your early morning jog! It’s hard to do that even here during DST. Total darkness + MiMo sidewalks at 5:30 a.m. = broken ankles.
But for the residents of many states who don’t live on the “edges,” it’s hard to find a reason to be against this. I have a friend who has seasonal affective disorder (SAD). She literally ordered some sort of light to help her deal with this during the winter months. It’s not just the “winter blues”; the struggle is real.
But still, since this could become a reality, I did try to think of something, anything that would make me sad should permanent DST become the new law of the land. It was hard, but I did scrape up a few downsides.
First, much like the change in seasons, the springtime change does give us something to look forward to and an opportunity to really appreciate the season of light. While levels of darkness and light are always going to change throughout the year no matter what the clock says, I do wonder if it never changed, would we appreciate it as much?
For some reason, this reminds me of a sign that was hanging at the Pink Pony Pub in Gulf Shores when I worked there the summer after I graduated from college. “Just another sh*tty day in paradise,” it read. It would not surprise me if it was still hanging there. But when you are looking at something breathtaking every day, it does become steadily less amazing and you start taking it for granted. Would a permanent time change do the same thing? Just another bright, sunshiny, crappy day in DST?
Maybe I am reaching. My friend with SAD would say, “Yes, yes you are. Shut your stupid mouth.”
But another consideration is Christmas, more specifically, Christmas lights. We don’t fall back until early November, so it’s only a few weeks before those dark nights of standard time start getting illuminated by bright, twinkly lights. Driving by the Mardi Gras Park tree or through your neighborhood and seeing everyone’s trees glowing through the windows just wouldn’t be the same if it were still a little light outside. I kind of like that it’s dark and cozy during the holiday season.
And also Mardi Gras. One of my favorite things about Mobile is when everyone else in the country (except copycat New Orleans, of course) is sitting at home in darkness at 6:30 p.m., we are standing out on our streets reveling, waiting to be showered in beads, MoonPies and Crichton Leprechaun plush toys. I am sure it would still be pretty dark, but would the flames from the Mystics of Time dragons burn as brightly if this change happened? I don’t know. Maybe it wouldn’t be that big of a difference, but I wouldn’t want to lose an ounce of Mardi Gras magic.
Of course, these are all things to be very minimally concerned by, and if it came down to it and I had to choose between the two, I’d go permanent daylight saving time too, just as everyone else who isn’t a serial killer would.
But since we have to wait on the U.S. Congress to make this happen — which I wouldn’t hold my breath on — perhaps we can focus on these few bright sides of keeping the darkness.
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