Standard Time is Substandard in My Book

Monday November 3, 2014: It’s 7:30 am and a beautiful sunny morning in New England. The sun is glinting off the hillside burnishing autumn’s fading glories with rusty red and yellowy brown hues. And I’m grumpy as I drive to work.

Take a good look New Englanders. 
No, I’m not in a foul mood because it’s Monday or because I’m going to work. I love my job, which means Monday is another opportunity to spend amidst smart, energetic young people. I’m seeing bright red (instead of fading red) because yesterday was my least favorite day in the calendar, the day we move the clocks ahead and lose an hour of late afternoon sunlight. In my view, Standard Time is a fraud perpetuated by energy companies to boost household consumption.

I hear people tell me they love the fall back clock adjustment because “I get an extra hour of sleep.” Really? Show of hands and be honest. How many of you actually slept an extra hour because the clock turned back an hour? Look, if you have little ones at home, clock time is irrelevant. If you don’t and if you work in anywhere other than a 24-hour convenience store, your body is operating on automatic rhythms and you probably got up yesterday after sleeping  as many hours as you usually do. Don’t believe me? Ask my cat, Minou. She was hungry at clock time 5 am and 4 pm, which her body told her was normal feeding time. I suppose an extra hour of sleep means nothing to a beastie that normally sleeps two-thirds of the day, but you’ve been sold a load of hooey if you think your one hour once a year means much to you. The clock changes at 2 am Sunday morning. How many of you actually changed your clocks before you went to bed? Plus, the next morning is Sunday and most of us can sleep in any damn Sunday we want.  

I do not need an extra hour of sunlight in the morning. I’m on my way to work and if I have turn on my headlights for the first part of my half hour commute, so be it. As I said, I love my job, but once I trudge from the parking lot to my office, I’ll be inside except when walking to and from my classes, and the sun is always up by then anyhow.  Later today I’ll be attending a lecture before going home. The event starts at 4:30 pm and I’d normally dawdle a bit to arrive after all the thanking of sponsors and longwinded introduction of a speaker whose bio I know or I wouldn’t be there in the first place. Not today, though. I’ll hustle a bit because the sun sets at 4:39 pm. By the time I get out, it will be pitch dark. Spare me all the public safety crap about morning light. Want to feel creeped out? Wander into a dark, remote UMass parking lot when the sun is down and get back to me.

Places such as Arizona and Hawaii never go on Daylight Savings Time. I don’t begrudge them that—they have more sunlight than they know what to do with. But I live in New England and before we start getting back a few precious seconds of light beginning December 22, our sun will set at 4:11 pm. For most of us, we’ll get up, get a peek at the sun on our work commute, and the Old Sol will bugger off to desert  and tropical climes before we get another look the next morning. Light-deprived depression is a very real thing up this way. It even has a name: Seasonal Affect Disorder.

So I say, no more Standard Time.  If Arizona can thumb its nose at the clock, so can New Englanders. Need an extra hour of sleep? Easily fixed—go to be an hour earlier! As for the rest of us, raise those hands, wave them about, and join in the chorus, “Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in, the suunnn  shine in.”

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