An Hour Here, an Hour There

It’s dark outside. It was dark almost as soon as I got home and that is not the worst thing. On my way to work this morning, the sun was in my eyes the whole way. On my way home, the sun was again in my eyes the whole way. The change was, of course, expected and scheduled. We all knew months ahead of time that it was coming. It has been happening for years, although at different days than it does now; but that doesn’t make it any less jarring or, to be frank, inconvenient.

Though many people credit Benjamin Franklin with instigating daylight saving time, it was actually an idea that dates for earlier in the development of civilization. Franklin did suggest the French implement a clock shift to save on candles, but the move to change clocks in modern times was designed to make used of extended daylight after work, when people are home. This would ostensibly save on electricity.

With technology and the modern 24-hour society, many people think that shifting clocks is superfluous. I tend to agree. Why send us into knots to change clocks when it gains nothing? Or does it? Maybe changing the clock gives us a sense of empowerment. We can change time. We can decide to make it an hour later or earlier at our whim. Nah. That ain’t it. We have no real power there. Time marches on no matter what time we say it is.

How about the extra light? It must be great to have that extra hour of light after work to do stuff. We could use that extra hour of light to do our favorite activities like watching TV or playing video games. Why just think how bad it would be if it got dark out while we watched TV? Wait. It does that anyway.

Ok, how about saving the electricity by not having to turn on the lights for an extra hour? We could save enough electricity to make a huge dent in our electric bill. Everyone knows that the dreaded light bulb is a huge energy hog and every minute we can avoid turning it one is a victory in and of itself. Wait, I live in Texas. Compared to the A/C, powering the light bulb is free. Besides, it is a rite of passage to manhood to storm around the house turning off lights screaming “electricity doesn’t grow on trees!”

Nope. I’m stumped. Why do we change the clocks? What does it really gain us? We don’t save any real money. We don’t gain any productivity. But we do get an hour’s sleep in the fall. Of course, after the second morning, we don’t really appreciate it, and it means that in the spring when DST begins we have to wake up an hour earlier to pay for it which makes most people late that Monday.

It makes me wonder why people still use that excuse, since the time change always happens really late Saturday night or really early Sunday morning. That gives a whole day to set clocks (and the most common time pieces used today set themselves automatically) and get accustomed to the new time. By Monday morning, you should pretty much know what time it is. Of course, this doesn’t account for the people who cannot take having their routine upset. Monday morning after DST ended, traffic on I-10 was pretty horrible. Maybe it was for just this reason.

We actually had an opportunity to do away with DST a few years ago, but rather than get rid of it, President Bush decided to change the effective dates. Now it starts three weeks earlier and ends a week later. I didn’t understand then and I don’t understand now. What benefit did that get us? Really? We get up an hour earlier in the spring and summer and go to bed an hour later in the winter. We—except for Hawaii and Arizona—have been doing it for our entire lives and it seems we will continue to do it for the foreseeable future.

I guess I’ll just have to get used to driving into the sun—at least until DST starts up again in the spring.

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Filed under Humor, Personal, Society

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