Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Time for a Change

I understand time zones. Since the earth is round and rotates, they are necessary to make sure half the world doesn’t have to eat lunch in the middle of the night. What I don’t understand is Daylight Savings Time. I mean, I understand the concept of wanting it to stay lighter in the evenings, and I’m all for that. What I don’t get is why we swap back and forth. It presents all sorts of problems, and I am convinced that whoever came up with the brilliant plan to mess with the clocks twice a year never had kids.

We “fell back” this weekend, and when that happens, the news people always mention “the extra hour of sleep” we’re all supposed to get. Not at my house! On Sunday night the kids were literally falling asleep in their dinner. (And, yes, I am using literally correctly, there. We actually had to fish Son Number Three out of his macaroni and cheese for fear of him suffocating at the table.) And guess what happened on Monday morning? I can tell you what wasn’t happening. Sleep. Any mythical “extra” hour of sleep I received on Sunday was promptly nullified when I woke up at 5:00 A.M. to find Son Number One and Two fully dressed and sitting in front of the television, watching cartoons.

“What in the world do you two think you’re doing? It’s five o’clock in the morning!”
“But, Dad, we woke up at four o’clock and it was taking forever to get to six.”

Thanks a lot, Daylight Savings Time!

And why do we always change the clocks on Saturday night? I think the theory is that if you take care of it in the middle of the weekend, the people who forget won’t be late for work. So, let me get this straight. They’re OK with me being late for church, but not for work? Something tells me God doesn’t see it that way, but that’s not even my main objection. If I’m going to have to go through this hassle, you should at least give me the opportunity to have a semi-legitimate excuse for being late for work twice a year. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. I’m already tired from my kids either waking up in the middle of the night in the fall, or having to drag them out of bed and give them CPR just to wake them up in the spring.

A Sunday night time change would be great. It would be called “time change Monday,” or “DST day,” and no one would expect you in the office before noon. It would end up being a holiday for the school kids, since, in my experience, school districts rarely miss an opportunity to take a day off.

And don’t even get me started on the actual clocks. My cell phone, my computer, and my Blu-ray player all automatically adjust themselves, and that’s fine. They are connected to the internet, so I trust that they’ll do it when they are supposed to, and even if they don’t, what do I care? I don’t use them to wake up on time for work. My alarm clock, on the other hand, has an optional setting for DST. This is possibly the worst “feature” on an alarm clock ever. I never know if the DST function is activated or not, and how the hell should my alarm clock even be able to know what day it is supposed to adjust the time, anyway? It’s not connected to the internet. I end up setting my clock ahead or back before I go to sleep, and then waking up three times in the middle of the night, comparing it to my wife’s clock to make sure it didn’t automatically change itself again at 2:00 A.M.

Then there are all the other clocks I have to deal with. At last count, that included the microwave, the stove, four bedside clocks, the house phone, two wristwatches, the VCR (yes, we still have one of those), two thermostats, the automatic sprinkler timer in the garage, a wall clock in my office, and two cars. Since the microwave and the stove clocks are right on top of each other, it takes me twice as long to set them, because I have to make sure they are exactly synchronized, or it will bug the bejeezus out of me when they say different times. One of our cars takes forever, too, because we have an aftermarket stereo in it, and we can never remember how to set it. My wife actually had to take it back to the electronics place where we bought the stereo once, just to get them to show her how to do it, because we gave up trying to figure it out.

And if the clocks themselves weren’t confusing enough, what about the states? Hawaii and Arizona do not use Daylight Savings Time, and half of Indiana doesn’t use it, while the other half does. What the hell is up with that? Trying to do the math on time zones is already enough of a headache, but when some states are allowed to further complicate the issue by going renegade on us, that is too much. I mean, come on, Indiana, half and half? Really?

I have first-hand experience in how confusing this can be. When I was in college in California, we went to Arizona for spring break. Arizona is on mountain time, so we knew we were in a different time zone, and needed to adjust the clocks ahead an hour, but someone knew that Arizona was either always on DST or never on it, but didn’t know which. Since we didn’t know whether they were permanently sprung forward, or permanently falled back, and no one was really even sure when we were supposed to change the clocks in California, we didn’t know if we should leave our watches alone, set them ahead an hour, or set them back two hours. Since this was before the internet and cell phones, the end result was a vacation where no one could agree on what time it was. Fortunately, the beer supplies held out, and no one really cared.

I personally think we should put all 50 states on permanent DST and be done with it. Sure, the winter mornings will be a little dark, but who cares? We’ll still have longer summers evening hours to play baseball, and no one will ever have to change the time on 17 clocks again, or deal with a seven-year-old who’s body doesn’t adjust, no matter what the clock says.

Like I said, the time zones are confusing enough. Let’s be done with unnecessary time changes and all the “spring forward, fall back” nonsense. Why overcomplicate things? As long as we’re on the subject, I also think it should be illegal for a state to have two different time zones. If you lived right on the line, how would you know when the store opened, or what time your favorite TV show comes on? How would you ever plan anything?
“Meet me at three o'clock.”
“Which three o'clock?”

 What if you lived in one time zone and worked in another?

That would be my idea of hell. I can’t even imagine what those poor folks in Indiana are going through right now.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2012 Marc Schmatjen

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  1. You stole my idea. I always said to leave the summer evenings longer and who cares if it is "real" time or DST? Hope the kids are sleeping in by now :)

  2. I'm totally with you, Laina! And, yes, the kids have finally adjusted. Thanks!