“I don’t mind going back to daylight saving time. With inflation, the hour will be the only thing I’ve saved all year.” — Victor Borge
There are many perks to retiring. A huge one being, I am not held captive by the clock…except when I have a doctor’s appointment. Doctor’s appointments are one of the non-rewards of retirement because to retire, one must get old. I don’t wear a watch anymore. If I could figure out how to get rid of a calendar, I would. But then when would I know we were getting ready to change to Daylight Saving Time and back again? Note: I have trouble knowing which day of the week it is since I retired…don’t care, either.
When I was a child, I didn’t remember much about Daylight Saving Time except when Mr. Gordon walked into our church service with a bewildered look on his face as we stood and began to sing the benediction. Mr. Gordon, like my family, tended to get up with the crowing of a rooster and went to bed when the chickens came home to roost. Unlike us he had missed the news flash about the then April change in time.
I remember asking my parents why we were changing the time. They stared off into space and no explanation was forthcoming. There still is no explanation but the difference is, I just don’t care.
My lack of care today was not the case when I toiled in the then hallowed halls of education. Working people and students will wake up on Monday morning and spend the day yawning because in springing forward, they will lose an hour of sleep. Nowhere is this more evident than in a high school teaching environment. Teens are notorious for finding ways to stay awake well past their bedtimes and Sunday night, March 12th will be no different, except it will be worse. On March 13, Little Johnny and Juanita will sleepwalk through the halls of learning even more stupefied than normal. So will their teachers.
No one has been able to give me a good reason as to why we need Daylight Saving Time and Dave Berry agrees, “You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe daylight saving time.” Another quote attributed to “a wise old Indian” states, “Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket.” I see nothing faulty about his logic.
So, why do we have it?
According to a CBS Boston article, “Daylight Saving Time has its roots in train schedules, but it was put into practice in Europe and the United States to save fuel and power during World War I, according to the US Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics.” Train schedules? Must be of German origin. Don’t their trains always run on time?
While in Paris, Ben Franklin proposed the time shift change in 1784. In a satirical letter to a Parisian newspaper, Franklin suggested that waking up earlier in the summer would economize on candle usage; and calculated considerable savings. This makes no more sense than train schedules. I’m trying to decide if this is contrary to his Poor Richard’s quote, “Early to bed, early to rise….”
To continue, “The US kept Daylight Saving Time permanent during most of World War II. The idea was put in place to conserve fuel and keep things standard. As the war came to a close in 1945, Gallup asked respondents how we should tell time. Only 17% wanted to keep what was then called “war time” all year.”
“During the energy crisis of the 1970s, we tried permanent Daylight Saving Time again in the winter of 1973-1974. The idea was to conserve fuel. It was a popular move at the time when President Richard Nixon signed the law in January 1974. But by the end of the month, Florida’s governor had called for the law’s repeal after eight schoolchildren were hit by cars in the dark. Schools across the country delayed start times until the sun came up.”
I remember 73-74 well. Waiting in gas lines only to have them run out as you finally got to the pumps. It was my first-year teaching and I remember gym duty before school. We corralled our little charges in one place, so they didn’t get lost in the darkness outside. Seven hundred of the devil’s minions in a gym.
“By summer, public approval had plummeted, and in early October Congress voted to switch back to standard time.”
So why do we need Daylight Saving Time? In two words, we don’t…unless you are going to utilize that extra hour of daylight after work or school. It is geared toward industry or those with typical “9 to 5” jobs. An extra hour of sunlight to drink another martini on the veranda in the glow of the sun.
My biggest argument against it? Daylight Saving will kill you. It seems to do damage to the human psyche and our health. Studies over the last 25 years have shown the one-hour change disrupts body rhythms tuned to Earth’s rotation. We have more car accidents when people lose an extra hour of sleep. We also know that people suffer more heart attacks at the start of Daylight Saving Time.
But for every argument there may be a counter argument. People seem happier with the extra hour of afternoon daylight, heart attacks be damned, and robberies decrease. Robberies decrease? Candles aside, the biggest argument for it is for saving energy but studies have shown there is little energy saved. And yet we continue to spring forward and fall back.
Arguments to keep it come from the recreational sport world, think driving ranges that want golfers to stop by after work, an extra hour for fisherman to go out and hook a monster, or the Little League world. Arguments against come from farmers who have a harder time getting their dairy products and vegetables to market, usually done in the early morning. Farmers and ranchers are governed by the sun and not a time piece.
So, your feelings about Daylight Saving depends on who you are and what you do. I’m retired. I go to sleep when I’m sleepy and get up when I’m not…well, my puppies have replaced my childhood roosters. I’m sure my puppy dogs wild dictate when I get up. They may not be able to tell the time, but they know when it is mealtime.
Note: 2022 poll by Monmouth University found 61 percent of respondents want to stop switching, while only 35 percent want to keep things the way they are. But those who want to end the madness are divided: 44 percent said they want permanent Daylight Saving Time and 13 percent want permanent Standard Time. With the political madness on display every day why would I guess otherwise?
Don Miller’s last nonfiction was “Pig Trails and Rabbit Holes” and may be purchased or downloaded at https://www.amazon.com/Pig-Trails-Rabbit-Holes-Southerner/dp/B09GQSNYL2/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3K12GNSMDT7T0&keywords=Pig+Trails+and+Rabbit+Holes+Don+Miller&qid=1678534404&sprefix=pig+trails+and+rabbit+holes+don+miller%2Caps%2C186&sr=8-1