Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Day Early, and A Dollar Extra

    Not too long ago, the tiny Pacific Island nation of Samoa made the big switch - from driving on the right like we do to driving on the left like they do in Australia and New Zealand.  Or vice versa, I don't remember.  But it doesn't matter, because Samoa is about to make another major switch - an even bigger and more epic switch - that will render the Samoa of yesterday vastly differnet from the Samoa of tomorrow.  Unless they don't have a tomorrow.  Or a yesterday.  I'm not sure, because they are switching sides of the International Date Line and literally dawning a new day.

This messed up section of the International
Date Line will be changing again soon.  It last
changes with Kiribati (inexplicably pronounced
Kir-e-bas) brought their entire territory onto the
west side of the line.
      Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele was the driving force behind switching sides of the road (please excuse the pun) and he is the force behind this switch as well, and just like the last time it is confusing a lot of ordinary, every day Samoans.  30-year-old multimedia company official Laufa Lesa told the Associated Press "It will be really confusing for us.  I just don't see the point, and we don't know the benefits yet."
     Well that is a great question, Mr. Sailele, what are the benefits?  Why are you doing this?  Well, turns out he is doing it for those same ordinary, every day Samoans who don't know why he is doing it.  And he is doing it for the greater good of the country of Samoa.  As it turns out, when Samoa decided to be on the east side of the line back in 1892, they were pretty hot and heavy with a lot of American missionaries and trader back in California, so they thought it would be smart to be on the same day as they are.  Fast forward to 2011 and they find that they are more in line with places like Australia and New Zealand, so now they want to move the line to the other side of the island to help improve their economic ties with those nations.  So to put it in perspective, right now they are 21 hours behind Sydney, Australia.  Once the change happens they will be 3 hours ahead.
     You might be wondering how switching the day of the week is going to change the economic fortunes of this little island nation.  Well, keep in mind that currently Samoa is one day ahead of Australia and New Zealand, and then we'll let the Prime Minister explain it because, well, he does a really good job of it. "  In doing business with New Zealand and Australia we're losing out on two working days a week.  While it's Friday here, it's Saturday in New Zealand and when we're at church on Sunday, they're already conduction business in Sydney and Brisbane.  Today, we do a lot more business with New Zealand and Australia, China, and Pacific Rim countries such as Singapore."  So there you have it.  He wants to have more chances to chat with Canberra and buy Chinese chocolates I guess.
     So how is this going to all work out, you might ask?  Well, since they are going to be advancing one day but staying in the same time zone (figure that one out), they are going to have to skip 24 hours in there somewhere.  The main proposal is to do it at the end of December, and it will happen in the blink of the proverbial eye, but probably not a real one because they will do it at night.  So for instance, the clock will go from 11:59 pm on December 29, 2011 to 12:00 am December 31, 2011 or whatever day they decide to do it.
    Sucks to be you if you have your birthday on the 30th.  But maybe not.  See, to add to the confusion, neighboring American Samoa will stay on the east side of the line and now be a day behind non-American Samoa, which is like 50-ish miles away.  Talk about nuts.  So you will have to go there to celebrate your birthday this year.  Or, in the future, if you are really self-absoarbed, you can celebrate your birthday on both, on two consecutive "days" and have a real blast of it.  Same for anniversaries, etc.  That is the new tourism line that the Prime Minister is taking to replace Samoa's old distinction as being the flast place on Earth to see each day's sunset. 
    So anyway, it's a landmark time to be a Samoan, and if you were there right now someday you could be sitting in a rocking chair, confused as hell about what day it was, telling your grandkids that you remember when people drove on the right side of the road and when the day was actually a day behind.  And they would be able to roll their eyes at you, which is universal no matter what day it is.  What an exciting time to by a Samoan, no?

No comments: