Spring Forward, Fall Asleep
By J.T. Ryder
Daylight Saving Time is almost here, so go hand crank the ol’ Hudson and we’ll motor down to see a moving picture show down at the Gold Theater! Why, maybe Chaplin’s Modern Times will be playing! Wouldn’t that be swell!?
The cool thing about arguing against the continuance of Daylight Saving Time is being able to blame the French. It’s not that I have a particular axe to grind with the French, but one can travel much more comfortably and reach a destination far more quickly when one hops on a bandwagon. And anyway, the French worship Jerry Lewis, so that’s enough of a reason for me.
You see, a long time ago, Benjamin Franklin visited France and noted that the French wouldn’t roll out of bed until noon, probably due to being in some sort of wine and croissant induced stupor from the night before. The French said, “Sacré merde! We are using up too much candle wax!” and, instead of going to bed earlier and waking up earlier, they moved the clock forward one hour…and slept in until one o’clock.
Well, this prompted Big Ben Franklin to write a fanciful essay (entitled Turkey Versus Eagle, McCauley Is My Beagle) after which the idea was promptly forgotten. While Franklin’s treatise was somewhat satirical in nature, New Zealand entomologist George Vernon Hudson presented a serious paper to the Wellington Philosophical Society about a proposed hour shift to conserve daylight. Independently, in 1907, William Willit, a British builder, brought the idiotic concept back to the fore with his pamphlet simply titled Waste of Daylight, which is not nearly as fun a title as Turkey Versus Eagle, McCauley Is My Beagle. In America, the idea of Daylight Saving Time was not truly entertained until the outbreak of World War I as a means to conserve energy and scale back fuel consumption but, at the end of the war, the practice was discarded quicker than Richard Simmons’ clothes in a gym shower room and was not picked up again until the outbreak of World War II.
In school, between smoking cigarettes out behind the cafeteria and wondering if X-Ray specs would allow me to see Wendy Whiteman’s breasts through her sweater, I remember some mumbled explanation about Daylight Saving Time being a boon to farmers, giving them an extra hour a day to perform their farm-like duties. Come to find out, many farmers abhor DST and rally against it every chance they can. There are some who actually reason that they are losing upwards of two hours a day under DST. In fact, their explanations vary. Dairy farmers, even though they have the luxury of an extra hour by the sun, end up milking the cows at the same time because, by the clock, standard commerce won’t begin until 9 a.m. to deliver their goods. Other farmers claim they lose an hour in the morning because dew won’t allow them to tend to their crops until the sun burns it off and then it gets dark earlier, so they lose another hour in the evening. There is one farmer, however, that likes having Daylight Saving Time around, but that’s because it allows him an extra hour to make a baseball diamond in the middle of his cornfield so that dead baseball players will show up, so we aren’t going to listen to him.
In the modern world, with all of our fancy energy efficient light bulbs, high mileage cars and super high tech heating systems, you’d think the subject of DST would be laughed off as a quaint, archaic system that should go the way of the dinosaurs yet we find many proponents for it. Proponents say there are far fewer car crashes during the evening commute due to more daylight. That may be so, but there is at least an 8 percent increased chance you may back-end a school bus through your dark trek into work. And what of that school bus? Here we are allowing our children to walk to school in the dark or wait at bus stops in the cold, lonely darkness.
Even my kids have asked me, “Why are we getting up when it’s dark outside?”
To which I reply, “I don’t know… something about farmers. Ask me a question I can answer.”
“Would I be able to see my classmate’s breasts with X-Ray specs?”
“No. They will ruin your eyes, you won’t see anything and she will slap you if she catches you. Now, here’s a flashlight. Go to school.”
My Daylight Saving must have been placed with Goldman-Sachs, because there doesn’t seem to be a damned thing in that account. In fact, Daylight Saving time has managed to cost me money on more than one occasion. Imagine my surprise when, one particularly fine day in 1986, when I arrived at work 10 minutes early only to find my supervisor waiting for me at the time clock to tell me that I was actually 50 minutes late. Imagine my surprise when I am fired shortly thereafter when a lengthy discussion erupts between me and the aforementioned supervisor, the salient points being that his wife looked like Bea Arthur if Bea had eaten a large manatee whole and, lastly, when and where I could pick up my final paycheck.
Had I even made it to work on time, I would have had to jockey with everybody else on the roadways whose bodies were telling them that they should be asleep, some of which were listening to their bodies and careening up onto the sidewalk. Productivity is a huge loss during these DST times of transition for up to seven days while people’s internal clocks (which are naturally set by the sun) fight against man-made clocks (which are unnaturally manufactured in Shenzhen, China). Eventually you will make the adjustment…right in time to spring forward.
DCP freelance writer J.T. Ryder covers a wide range of topics including local news, music and comedy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org