This Sunday is one of my two least favorite days of the year*. At 0200 (2:00 AM) my part of the world shifts to “Daylight Saving Time” and the clocks leap a full hour ahead (a perverse form of time travel with no perceivable benefit). This means I lose an hour of sleep and a great deal of value in my various “Emotional Savings Accounts” with others as it usually takes a couple of weeks before my anger and aggravation drops to near-normal levels.
I don’t remember exactly when the shift first began in my experience (the Wiki entry on Daylight Saving Time gives sometime in the 1970’s) but I do remember it being a real pain. Had to get up earlier for school, it stayed light longer in the evening, so it didn’t seem like time to go in (sunset moved later in time so dark came later at night… and who wants to go to bed if it’s not ‘night’ yet?). Eventually, we got acclimated to the change, usually just about the time for the shift back in the fall (back then the changes took place closer together, about 6 months long) when the cycle of adjustment started over again. I think there was a couple of years of debate and votes to approve the change before it was accepted by accident (the wording was to vote NO if you wanted to use DST… most people didn’t like it at first).
Now it doesn’t really matter anymore. Everyone has been subjected to the condition for so long it has become customary. You just “do it” and use the time change as a reminder to check the batteries in your smoke detectors (the method we used to do was wait for the crickets chirp to become so annoying that SOMEONE HAD to drag the ladder in and change the stupid things). Even though your biannual event does not halve the year evenly. In fact, we spend nearly double the time with the clocks wrong (ahead of solar time) than matching the real world. I suppose this is “better” because when the change took place in April or May, commuting into the rising sun became a hazardous adventure twice each spring. By changing so early in the year, most drivers are going into work while it is still dark before the change, thus endangering each other only one month rather than two, but that’s a small gain.
If we were living in a primarily agrarian society, I might buy the benefit of the change, but living by the electric time master (who doesn’t care if the sun even exists, for that matter… take serving on a nuclear sub for 90 days without surfacing for example) makes the change pointless for many and painful for some. A close friend of mine suffers from SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder) and his depression in the dark months is terrifying. DST makes the day start earlier, so he awakens with more darkness ahead than behind, and suffers more severely. My depression is not so sensitive to light/dark cycles, but it is affected by my relationships with others, so the enemy of my friend is my enemy, too. (Maybe ‘enemy’ is too strong a term. Perhaps ‘tormenter’ is more appropriate.)
In any case, I desperately need to spend the next two days being extra nice to as many people as I possibly can.
Because, for most of the month of March, I will be a real jerk…
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(* For the record, the other worst day is the change back in the late fall. In theory we get an extra hour sleep, but it seldom works out that way…normally we can “stay up an extra hour” and sleep still suffers. HATE HATE HATE DST.)