Monday, November 7, 2011

In Defense of Standard Time

Yeah, It's Out There - Just Earlier

So, let's see a show of hands. How many of you were thrilled when the alarm seemed to go off an hour later this morning even though the clock had it's normal time on it? Were you excited that you weren't getting up in the dark? Did it feel like you got more sleep? What did you do yesterday with that extra hour? I got a lot more laundry and grocery shopping done, I can tell you.

How did you feel yesterday when the sun was going way down around, oh, 4:00 in the afternoon? Did it feel like dinnertime around 5:00? Were the kids and pets begging to be fed an hour before the clock said it was time? Feeling any Seasonal Affective Disorder yet? Because I can honestly say that when it gets dark around 4:00 in the afternoon, I'm a little depressed.

We're still heading toward the shortest day of the year, which actually will happen next month. After that, it's back to gaining daylight throughout January and February, the months that feel to me like they are the longest of the entire year. It's cold. It gets dark early. The schools keep closing because they saw a snowflake somewhere in the county. It feels like spring will never get here.

But, what everyone close to me knows (and I mean, husband, kids, parents, friends, checkers at the grocery store, people I happen to bump my cart into at the pet store, the telemarketers who call and usually get the phone slammed down in their ear) is that what I hate worse than being handed an hour in the fall is the government deciding for me that I have an hour more in the fall and an hour less in the spring.

How the hell does this work?

Isn't time an immutable concept? And isn't it a concept that we, as human beings, have basically constructed? Does time stop if the human race is eradicated one day by aliens from a much smarter planet that knows you Can't. Change. Time?

It doesn't seem to matter whether we are gaining an hour or losing it; my body has major trouble adjusting. This morning, I was still lying awake at 2:00 a.m. (really 3:00, right? How long do you do the whole is it 1:00 or 2:00 thing?) after an hour of listening to relaxation and meditation sounds on my iPod and two hours of petting the cat who had deigned to grace us with her presence for some reason. I woke up at 7:20 this morning to the call of nature (myself, not the great outdoors) and now I'm dragging because even though they generously gave me an extra hour Saturday night (who is this they and aren't we giving them an awful lot of power when we tell them they can change time and we, the sheeple, will blindly say "oh, okay" and change all the clocks in the house?), it will still take my body days to adjust to this change.

In the spring, fuhgeddabboudit. I am a total waste of space for a week after they steal back that hour I just magically received over the past weekend.

At one point a few years ago, I got so incensed about the loss of the hour in the spring that I went online and did a little research. Did you know that car accidents increase on the Monday after the time change in April (or is it now March)? People aren't catching up with that one hour loss by Monday morning. There's a shocker. It takes our bodies more than one day to adjust to losing an hour. Please alert the government, someone, won't you?

I was so incensed that year that I actually decided to write our local Congressman and ask him to please, please do something to stop this madness. Do they have any idea of how much this change wreaks havoc on the children? Or the pets? The little people and mammals don't understand that we spring forward and fall back. Their little bodies still think that 6:00 is 5:00 or 5:00 is 6:00 and woe unto the parent who tries to tell them differently. Kids are waking up cranky and falling asleep at school. Cats are still meowing to be fed and dogs are still requesting (loudly) to be walked, regardless of what Congress tells us the time is.

My family thinks I'm crazy (for many reasons, but especially because I hate this time change business so freaking much). But since I already knew my family has written me off, I wrote to our Congressman anyways. And got no response, because he probably thought I was crazy too. And he's a nice guy who has been personally involved with us because of Joey's autism. No response on the time change thing, though.

Today, people will feel all smug about their extra hour of rest (unless they are like me and it screws them up entirely) and be heading into work all awake and everything. And then when 4:00 comes and they would have been heading home to cook dinner, they will start to be all cranky and grumbly and "why can't I go home now? It's getting dark!"

See? It's a stupid idea.

I can take the days getting longer and shorter on their own. That's just nature. What I don't get is my government telling me that I have to add an hour in the fall and take away an hour in the spring. Was that why they taught addition and subtraction? Because God knows I didn't learn it so I can correctly balance our checkbook.

I hear that Arizona and Hawaii (one a pretty warm and sunny place and the other, well, you know, paradise) "opt out" of the time change. Which means that twice a year, people are saying what time is it over there? Can I call now or is it too late? Or too early?

It seems to me that if two states (Or is it 3? I think Indiana also doesn't "do" the time change?) have decided that this whole daylight savings thing is a crock, maybe we should listen. Do we really need it to stay light until 9:00 in the evening during the summer? And if we do, why don't we just leave it set to daylight savings time? But personally, I think standard time ought to just stay, well, standard.

Isn't moving our clocks back and forth is a little bit like messing with the whole space-time-continuum thing? Which could result in our having a whole different life than what we now know. I fully expect that after one of these clock turning events, I will wake up the next morning as a single librarian with a lot of cats and no children.

Have I made my point or have I just come up with a great reason to let them change the time twice a year? I think I outargued myself. Some days single librarian with cats and no kids doesn't sound awful...but maybe I could imagine it as married with lots more money and vacations because of the whole no kids thing...

There's a lot of power in messing with time. I'm just sayin'...

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