A modest proposal that vampires could appreciate
By BARBARA FREDRICKSEN
Published August 12, 2006
Wednesday night, as I was out in the moonlight planting flowers and chatting with neighbors who do their daily power walk after dark because, as Cole Porter wrote in Kiss Me, Kate, it's Too Darn Hot to do anything in the daytime, it suddenly hit me.
We don't need Daylight Saving Time. We need Daylight Switching Time.
Instead of operating on an 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. business schedule, come June through September, we'd operate on an 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. timetable.
In other words, what we do in the daytime now, we'd do at night, and vice versa.
Like Michael Jackson, or Count Dracula, we could build cool, darkened sleep chambers, where we would snooze away those horrible hours between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., when it's so hot your shoes stick to the sidewalk and your car's steering wheel burns your hands after being parked in the sun for more than 12 minutes. Anything that takes any effort would be done during the cool (or at least cooler) night.
We could rise at 6 p.m., eat a leisurely meal (breakfast? dinner? brunch?) and work any eight or nine hours between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. that we choose or are assigned.
Think of what this would do for anyone who works outdoors: lawn care crews, roofers, concrete pourers, building crews, backhoe operators, even thong-wearing hot dog vendors. Instead of sweating it out under a 94-degree sun, they could work under cold white light in 75 degrees.
I ran this by a lawn man. He said he'd do it right now using a coal miner's headlamp, except everyone would complain about the noise. Same for a roofer and a construction worker.
But if we were all awake all night, who would care if they roared or buzzed or hammered?
What about energy consumption? Wouldn't it take a lot more electricity to work all night and sleep all day?
I think it would be a tradeoff. We could keep our office buildings and businesses warmer during the day, when most would be empty, and cool them more easily at night. Gasoline use would go down, too, as we could ride around during work hours with our windows down instead of with the air conditioner cranking at full speed.
What about those who can't drive at night? When could they shop and go to the doctor?
Mass transit - which would help reduce energy consumption even more. And since everybody would be up and about, waiting for a bus or train would be as safe as daylight is now.
Actually, all crime would plummet. Burglary and vandalism usually take place under the cover of night. Bright lights and streets full of people, however, would make it tough on the delinquent kid who wants to pull the light fixture off the front of your house or dump your patio furniture into your pool at 2 a.m., and the guy who likes to crawl through windows and steal the silverware at 4 a.m.
As for recreation, everyone knows that the bright midday sun at the beach wrecks your skin and sears your eyeballs. Instead of sunbathing ourselves to a leathery skin and sun blindness, we could moonbathe and contemplate the starry skies.
As for tourism, no one would ever again burn the backs of their legs when they sat down on a hot seat on a Disney World ride.
Perhaps best of all, my life schedule would finally be in synch with that of my cat.
* * *
Well, I suppose my flying days are over.
As I have mentioned here before, the only way I can make myself board an airplane is to take a mild tranquilizer, then chug-a-lug pure gin from takeoff to landing from little bottles I bring on board.
Now that you can't take liquids onto an airplane, and the hostess won't sell liquor until the flight is well under way, I won't have what my mom calls "liquid courage" to get me on to my seat.
According to the Transportation Security Administration's rules, there is one exception: baby formula that the mother is willing to drink from in front of security officials.
If they'll do that for babies, why can't they do it for people who act like babies when it comes to flying?
I will be more than happy to take a big swig of delicious Bombay Sapphire in front of anyone, if they'll let me take it on to my cubby by the window.