The plane from Budapest landed at Sheremeytevo with a thud. Heedless of pleas in three languages to wait until the plane reached the gate, everyone, including the flight attendants, pulled out phones and switched them on.
“What time is it?” I asked HRH, my “Handsome Russian Husband.”
“It’s 6,” said HRH, who never changes his watch from Moscow time, no matter where he is in the world.
In my iPhone’s “Date and Time Settings,” I slid the knob on “Set Automatically” to the right. The screen flickered, then showed 5.00 pm. Defeated, I scrolled down to “Set Date & Time” and adjusted the time manually to 6.00 pm.
“There’s a potent symbol of the Medvedev legacy,” I said to HRH as we queued in adjacent passport control lines, “He’s such an Apple junkie and yet every one of their devices – even the iPad – refuses to acknowledge current Moscow time.”
HRH shrugged and motioned me into his line. His line always moves faster.
“Poor old Medevev,” I said to HRH, in the car on the way home, “he’s going to end up one of those incredibly short chapters in Russian history like Feodor II or…who was that guy who came after Stalin?”
“Malenkov,” said HRH automatically, as he cut off a Honda in mid lurch thereby gaining four more inches of wiggle room.
“All anyone is going to remember about Medvedev is that under his administration and urging, the number of Russia’s time zones was reduced from 11 to 9.”
“Little too close to Canada for my liking,” said HRH.
What Rasputin-type advisor, I wondered, convinced Medvedev to reduce the number of time zones, once a proud Soviet 16 down a pathetic 9? Who told him that he’d get a surge in his approval ratings amidst a population whose guiding principle has always been, “And what makes us inferior to other nations (huh)?”
“Listen,” said HRH, who doesn’t waste any time feeling sorry for Russia’s elected officials, “reducing the number of time zones might make good business sense, but cancelling daylight’s savings time has to have been part of the next guy’s election strategy – there is no upside for millions of children getting up and going to school in the pitch black dark.”
“To say nothing of 40-something businessmen,” I smiled.
In 2011, as part of the time shuffle, Russia “sprang forward” in March but did not “fall back” in October. Medvedev tweeted that the change would reduce Russians’ “stress and illness,” as well as bring them closer to Asia during the business day. But what price the convenience of a conference call to Shanghai compared with the extra hour is now seems to take on the return from a weekend’s shopping in Europe?
On the news that night, The Frontrunner in the upcoming presidential election – a self-confessed night owl – fielded a question about the time change from a group of entrepreneurs
“I’m not opposed to a review,” said the Frontrunner with his characteristic smirk.
“Timely,” said HRH nodding in approval.
This article first appeared in print in The Washington Post and Russia Beyond The Headlines on February 29, 2012 under the title, “The Power Of Time Zones.” A link to the original online version may be found here.
Hey there readers! What was your take on the Presidential time change mess? Did you have trouble waking up in the morning, or did it cure all your “stresses and illnesses?” Do you think the next guy will change things back again? Let us know what you think by hitting the comment button below!