Thursday, June 10, 2010

Eastern Standard Time and Being American

Deep in my heart
Safe from the guards
Of intellect and reason
Leaving me at a loss
For words to express my feelings - Tracey Chapman, "Deep in my Heart"

Now I've lived in America for over 15 years and I thought I'd seen and heard it all.

Diversity is the name of the game here in the U.S. And because the place is so diverse, we (the uninitiated) tend to think that Americans will understand and recognize diversity elsewhere.

Not so.

"Diversity" in America apparently means "Diversity in America". "Diversity" is an American thing and nowhere else can have it. I suspect they have patented it.

Case in point: I was talking to am American friend tonight on a number of matters. An intelligent woman. I suspect that like all intelligent women everywhere, that she's an Obama supporter (all be it now reluctantly), and that she doesn't like BP flooding our seaboard with oil. And so for a moment there I thought we were talking the same language.

BUT then we got on to "time zones". She (let's call her "T") was asking me about times in Australia and Australian "states" and "cities".

Now as all my followers would agree, I'm a very patient person.

"Melbourne is a city," I explained. "And Victoria is a state. Melbourne is to Victoria as Tallahassee is to Florida; as Sacramento is to California; as Albany is to New York."

"Oh," said "T", so Melbourne is in New South Wales?"

"No-oooo," I said, taking a full sip of my shiraz. ""Tallahassee is not in Texas."

By this stage I think that "T" was taking sips or sniffs or inhales of something, as she was becoming quite confused.

"Listen," I said (taking deep breaths). "America has states and in states are cities."

"Yeah," she said, "Like Brooklyn."

Not really, " I sighed. "Brooklyn is a district, a county. We are talking about cities and state capitals. Like Springfield, Illinois."

"OK," said "T". "I get it."

So far so good. So it was back to the original topic, "time zones".

"So what time zone is Melbourne in and what is the time there?" she asked.

"Eastern Standard Time, 8;00 a.m." I answered.

[Laughter]

"What's the matter?" I inquired.

"Eastern Standard Time is East Coast America daylight savings time," she retorted. "How can that be an Australian time?"

"Listen 'T'," I attempted. "It isn't only America that has an east coast. Or a time!!"

But deep in my heart I understood. I'm beginning to get it.

America, You're standing in it.

I'm Kathleenwng and I approve this message.

3 comments:

Boggy said...

You are much more patient than I, Kate. Conversations like that drive me right up the 'Y'axis.
An intelligent woman. Please define 'intelligent'. I'd expect that from a person who couldn't read.
Did she ever finish the Eighth Grade? Does she read for understanding or just the sound of their own voice.
Yes, you are very patient.
What WAS she sniffing?
Only in NY - two ten year olds hailing a cab. That was an opportunistic shot and a very good one.

T - short for Timelord's companion said...

o Mr. Boggy,

You don't understand. I have no education. I was kicked out of Kindergarten and was raised by intergalatic space beings called Timelords aboard Doctor Who's Time ship the T.A.R.D.I.S.
Time And Relative Dimension In Space and therefore am unfamiliar with the ways you Earth beings tell time. With me and the Doctor all of time is relevent and relative at the same time.
To be concise we refer to Earth time as Greenwich Mean Time which is in effect all over your planet. The complexities with with you Earth people divide time takes too much time to figure out. As long as the sun rises and sets Earth people are happy, but when you cross into other dimensions the same rules do not apply. There is no Eastern Standard Time in Space.

Boggy said...

Outtasight, "T"
GMT or Zulu Time 'cause the Zulus don't givvashit 'bout time either. Either the sun comes up or it doesn'y.
S'all a bloody illusion anyhow.

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