Saturday, September 29, 2012

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

At 3:00 a.m. this morning, Samoa, an island nation celebrating 50 years of independence this year, turned the clocks forward an hour to observe Daylight Savings Time.  Just like in the United States, we “spring forward” and “fall back”.  If you’re wearing a sweater and watching the leaves change in the Midwest, remember that Samoa is in the southern hemisphere, so we’re heading into winter.  Which is better known as the wet season.

Before going to bed last night, I set my two cell phones forward.  Then I set my watch forward an hour.  I left my wall clock and computer alone.

I didn’t sleep well because I was worried about waking up at the right time.  I normally wake up when the sun comes up, as do most Samoans.  That’s how we know it’s time to get up and get to work.  But with the change to DST, it would still be darkish.

I heard the roosters and saw dawn light creeping over the lagoon and got up.  I looked at my telephone.  5:45 a.m.  That can’t be right.  It’s too light out for that.  I looked at my other telephone.  5:46 a.m.    I checked my watch.  6:46 a.m.  What the hell?

Next I checked my wall clock.  5:47 a.m.  And my computer?  6:55 a.m.  I have to believe the wall clock is an hour late, since I didn’t change it.  I have to believe my watch is correct, since I did change it.  I also believe my computer, which switches automatically to the correct DST.

I believe the two cell phone companies actually changed the time BACK instead of forward an hour.  I changed them manually last night because although they should switch automatically, last year they didn’t switch until 3 days after the official switch.

Ok, so It’s 7:25 DST in Savaii.  Now the question is, what time will the special bus come to pick me up for the teachers’ church event?  I was told it will start in Pu’apu’a at 7:30 a.m., which would mean it would get to me around 8:00, which means I should head out to the road no later than 7:45.

But last year, even though people changed their clocks an hour ahead, they postponed everything by one hour.  Essentially, we were operating on the old time.  I found that out when I got to church last year and no one else was there.  The church was locked and I was too lazy to walk home, so sat in a beach fale in my fancy hat and puletasi, enjoying the dawn sea air.

Eventually, people started strolling toward church and that’s when I discovered it was starting an hour later than normal.  I made the same mistake the next day at school.  Instead of having the first bell at 7:30 a.m, it was at 8:30 a.m.  Ending time, though was on Daylight Savings Time.  School was just an hour shorter than usual.

As I was lying in bed, sweating in the humid air, pondering what time I actually had to be dressed and out the door, my phone rang.  It was now either 5:59 a.m. or 6:59 a.m., depending on which of my clocks you consulted.

It was my SRO, telling me she was coming to pick me up (which is several miles out of her way) so that I didn’t have to get all sweaty on the crowded bus.  She also planned to bring a hat so I wouldn’t be the only one in the crowd without one.  She was very surprised when I told her I’d bought a hat 1 ½ years ago and wear it every week.  Since we live in different villages, she’s never seen me on a Sunday.

I asked what time she’d be picking me up.  8:30 a.m.  As I was pondering whether that was the “new” 8:30 or the old 8:30, she clarified that the service was being held at the old time.

I plan to be ready by the new 8:30 just to cover my bases.  I don’t want to be late because I’ve been told I get to sit up front so the TV cameras can get a good shot of the palagi teacher.   I wonder what time school will start tomorrow? 

No comments:

Post a Comment