Dark Monday. That’s what Tom Emswiler calls the first workday after we transition out of Daylight Saving Time.
Emswiler is the lead instigator of the movement to get Massachusetts to move to Atlantic Standard Time year-round (the equivalent of staying on daylight saving time all the time).
Last week, a bill to do just that, cosponsored by Emswiler and Senator John F. Keenan of Quincy, was heard before a Massachusetts House committee, the latest step in the long legislative process.
What is happening in the state is being closely watched nationally, as Massachusetts has become the center for a national grass-roots effort to stay on summer time all the time.
Emswiler, an ordinary citizen, lit the spark with a popular editorial published in the Globe in 2014, and a special state commission convened to study the move. Two years ago, that committee voted 9-1 in favor of making the jump.
Since then, the New England states to our north have all passed provisional endorsements which basically say, “We’ll do it if Massachusetts does it.” More than 30 states are now considering the shift in one form of another, and President Trump has tweeted his support for making the move nationally.
In his remarks to the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight, Emswiler again made the case that this is an intellectual decision that would save energy, encourage more evening activities, and eliminate the well-documented spike in heart attacks, car accidents, and workplace accidents that occurs when we “spring forward” and lose an hour of sleep.
Not everyone loves the idea, of course. Countries around the world have been tinkering with their clocks since the beginning of the 20th century, shifting sunlight in one direction or the other, pleasing some while angering others. Gaining an hour of daylight in the afternoon means losing one in the mornings, and many have expressed concerns about children having to go to school in the dark.
Five years into his mission, Emswiler said it follows a similar cycle. In the summer, when sunlight is aplenty, it loses momentum. But then Dark Monday comes around, the sun sets at 4:34 p.m. in Boston, and all the feelings return.
“On the Sunday after we switch, your sense of time is a little messed up,” he said. “But it really doesn’t hit you until you leave work on Monday and it’s like, ‘Yep, I’m driving home and it’s pitch black.’ ”