Every year the people dutifully clamber up onto kitchen stools to change their clocks. ‘Spring forward, fall back’ they remind themselves in a sing songey voice that harkens back to Mother Goose. For the next few days people everywhere are late, or early depending on the season. They are perpetually tired, or unusually wakeful, again, dependent on the season. Some people like good soldiers change every clock they own, others just the ones they know how to change spending the next six months either adding or subtracting an hour in their mind every time they get behind the wheel of their Subaru and glance at the dash. Not a lot of people ever ask why they perform this semi-voluntary task bi-annually that alters their daily life with the capriciousness of a teenage girl. The few that have ever thought about it have some inkling, at best, that it has to do with school buses and farm kids, neither of which is true and both of which are polar opposites of what is. In the US some states don’t participate at all (Hawai’i) or in part (Indiana) or due to religious exemptions (the Amish) ignore it completely. Every year additional countries jump on the bandwagon for equally nebulous reasons while the planet spins, same as it ever was, oblivious to the man made state of affairs on it’s surface.
If you dig around you’ll find a quip by Benjamin Franklin that jokingly encourages the French to save candles by getting up earlier and actually doing some work in the daylight, this from the same man who told us that ‘early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise’. He was refering, of course, to the time he spent abroad as ambassador to the snail poachers of the continent and their penchant for ‘meh’ about virtually everything, including a puritan work ethic. It was never meant to be implemented as a plan, but rather as a joke. Time, however, has never been kind to quotes of the founding fathers, finding ways to bastardize their every utterance until it wouldn’t be recognized by it’s originator in it’ present day configuration.
It should come as no surprise to anyone with two eyeballs and a heartbeat that the concept of daylight saving coincides with the emergence of the industrial era. In fact it was a Kiwi shift worker with a penchant for collecting bugs that first pitched this egregious sham in the hopes of securing for himself a couple of extra hours of sunlight after his souless day job ended to round up six legged creatures to impale on pins. Thank you, George Vernon Hudson, you insufferable git. of course it should come as no surprise that an English golfer would rail on about this bad idea until he finally got his way, able to smack around little white balls in the dwindling light at the expense of every other human being on earth who simply wanted to live as God and nature’s law intended. But no. Better to intentionally screw with one of the few concepts (time) that everyone on Earth actually agreed on without commiting genocide to implement. One of the prototypes of the social justice warrior with his nose perpetually buried in the business end of his neighbor, William Willett was deeply concerned that some people somewhere were sleeping away their summer mornings when they could be forcing their children to work in the mills while he passed his time on the links. Thanks, Bill, excellent job. He managed to get the attention of Parliment and as everyone knows, when government gets involved things only improve and so they kicked his ridiculous idea around until he died without coming to any definitive decision and then the Germans got involved. Oh God, not the Germans. You know how those people are, give them an inch and they’ll take a mile and make it unfunnier than it already wasn’t. When the Hun decides to industrialize human behavior they do it with a fervor seen only at gay rights parades and Mexican birthday parties. This was of course part of the war effort and so they focused on it with laser-like intensity until every one of their enemies followed suit with the good old USA jumping in at the very end. Notice any patterns? Didn’t think so.
In the US if you bring it up at a cocktail party right around the time we all join in on the collective delusion that we are really resetting time itself, you will find that most people are absolutely wedded to the idea that it was created to save farmer’s children from being run over in the dark while waiting for the school bus. This is a rural, urban legend. However most people at that cocktail party will defend the idea vociferously until the only farmer there points out that a) there were no school busses in 1918 and b) the children who would have been waiting for that imaginary bus in full light on the morning of March 7th would by neccessity be waiting for it in pitch black on on the following monday and c) cars have headlights, duh. The farmer then trots out everything written above and points out that those still practicing agrarian lifestyles live their lives not around a clock, but the rising and the setting of the sun and need no help from D.C. to do so, thank you very much. This usually ends in bitter frowns and pursed lips and people scurrying home after the party to climb up on their kitchen stools to change their clocks because…because…because everybody else is doing it dammit! And hey, while you’re at it, change the batteries in your smoke alarm, consumer drone.
The fact is that daylight saving time benefits no one. it serves no purpose since the German war industry doesn’t have the same coal limits it once did, there is no industry left in the USA any longer for shift workers to be on time for and since no one is employed everyone can play golf and collect bugs all day long. And if you pick up one of those strap on halogen headlamps a WalMart, all night if that floats your boat. The fact is that with the advent of air conditioning daylight saving costs more than it ever saved. Hard to believe because its true. Daylight saving is a boondogle, a McGuffin, an annoyance and a semi-annual test of docility and compliance. If you can get people to unite as a collective whole on something as pointless and wasteful as that, you could probably get them to believe that everyone is equal or that we can elect our way out of the mess we’ve made.
The irony in this is that my kids, children of a farmer, will wait for their school bus in the dark and later, after working from dawn ‘til dusk I will go to vote in the local elections, that is if I can make it there before the polls close because for the life of me, I cannot figure out how to change the dash clock to whatever time it’s supposed to be.