The International Date Line

For many years now, people have been led to believe that the International Date Line is a geographical construct designed to differentiate between two calendar days. It sits, by international agreement, at 180° longitude but deviates around various nations to accommodate their desired time zone.

Therefore, depending on your direction of travel, it is possible to leave on one day, travel thousands of miles and arrive before you left, thus effectively having two of the same day. Or, in reverse, you can skip an entire day altogether. This can be very useful if you’re prone to forget your wife’s birthday or want to avoid a family celebration.

“Sorry, darling, I didn’t forget. I crossed the International Date Line on my way home and missed your birthday!”

“The family reunion was yesterday? How did that happen?”

Useful, confusing or annoying, depending on your point of view, the International Date Line is a fallacy, an international conspiracy of epic proportions. The reality is that the International Date Line is exactly that – a date line. The following is a transcript of a recent call. (Not mine, of course.)

“Good morning. You’ve reached the International Date Line. You’re speaking with Sven. How may I help?

“Good morning Sven. I’m travelling to Uzbekistan on holiday soon and I wanted to arrange a date.”

“Of course. That’s no problem. I’ll just take a few details and run through the various plans on offer. Then we’ll check availability. Will this be a one-off trip or part of a global excursion?”

“Hmm. I don’t know. I haven’t really thought that far ahead.”

“The Global package is our best value. We can arrange dates for you in 74 countries. Though not on the same day of course. Ha ha ha.”

I thought my jokes were bad.

“Can you describe yourself briefly?”

“Male. Average height. Average weight. Average intelligence. Financially and emotionally insecure. Is that brief enough?”

“Perfect. Now, what sort of date are you looking for?”

“I was thinking of something like the 20th of April. I’ve always liked that date.”

Move over Tinder, eHarmony, Match.com etc.

Stephen Tomkins
12 June 2017
Bangkok

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