The Square Peg - Zero Dark Thirty
© S. Bradley Stoner
I know y’all are anticipating it. It’s only a week away and I already can hear the grumbling. Oh, it’s at low volume now, but, trust me, it will grow as the week progresses. Yessiree Bob, I’m talkin’ about good old daylight savings time. Thank you, Ben Franklin! That’s right, folks, old Ben came up with the idea in 1784 in an essay he wrote for some French newspaper. Uh huh, he proposed the French get up an hour earlier to make use of the morning hours to save on the cost of candles. Yep, a genuine pioneer of solar power was our friend Franklin. Of course, he was joking, but so enamored of old Ben were the French that they took it as a serious suggestion. Apparently they also lack a sense of humor and don’t understand satire. They probably think “The Onion” reports legitimate news.
Now one might think the French would have been the first to employ this trickery to get up and get to work earlier, but the fact is, they just aren’t that motivated. Remember, they’re the ones that came up with “C’est la vie... c’est la guerre” accompanied by a shrug of the shoulders. It’s sort of like the Mexican “mañana,” which means “whenever” of course. On the other hand, Germany rather liked the idea of engineering time... almost as much as they like engineering everything else. So in order to save fuel for more important pursuits (like invading France), the Kaiser’s official clock setters turned ‘em back an hour before anyone else did.
This took the French completely by surprise. I mean, who would interrupt a person’s morning coffee and croissant by such an impertinent action as lobbing one ton explosive shells across the border? This of course shook Chef des Armées Joffre out of bed and sent his mistress running for cover. It was a rude awakening. The U.S. followed suit in 1918, but cooler heads prevailed after the war and repealed it, only to have it reinstituted in 1942. It was a war thing. But I digress. Back to the future.
My question is this, what do you gain with daylight savings time? Do you get more hours in a day? No. It still takes the earth 24 hours, give or take, to make a full rotation. Do you save money on your power bill? Nope. You just burn your lights on the beginning of the day rather than the end. Do you get more recreational time? Not if you work. And if you’re retired, it doesn’t make a bit of difference.
So what does it do? I’ll tell you what it does. It makes you get up at zero dark thirty for an extra two months. That’s what it does. It gets you out in the commuter lanes while it’s still dark, and it does it during the rainy season. And since folks are driving half asleep, that increases your odds of getting smacked or smacking into someone else. Oh, and it makes all the kiddies go to bed while it’s still light, which is just plain stupid. They’re not going to go to sleep. They’re going to sneak out of bed to play with their toys or fire up that PS2 and turn the volume down. Then they’re going to fall asleep eating breakfast and during class. Then you’ll get nasty notes from their tired, grumpy teacher telling you to enforce bed times. Like that will work.
I’ll tell you what else it does. It makes fuzzy thinkers out of normally bright employees. Why? Because it throws off their natural body clock that triggers the brain to wonder, “Why am I up so early? I need my rest. You want me to work properly? Let me get some sleep you freaking moron.” Of course the previous night it was saying, “Barbeque? Beer? Music? Dancing? Oh yeah! Party on, dude!” Which, of course, you did, rendering your morning brain worthless and hurting to boot. This makes your boss, who’s at least a generation older than you, wonder, ‘What’s wrong with kids these days?’ And he should, given the volume of really stupid ideas hatched by brains that aren’t fully functional. I’m pretty sure this condition is epidemic in the advertising business. It would explain all the really stupid ads coming out.
Don’t worry, though. I don’t blame you. I blame Ben Franklin and his stupid joke... and the French journal that published it as a serious essay. If old Ben were still around, he’d probably revise that clever saying about “early to bed...” Now it would probably go something like, “Late to bed, early to rise will leave your brain anesthetized.”
Y’all don’t forget to set your clocks ahead on the 5th of March. Maybe by the ides you’ll adjust to getting up at a ridiculous hour.