March 15, 2015
Sunday, 8:00 p.m.
Letter #374: Daylight Saving Time
This past week marked the official start of Daylight Saving Time. (Note that there is no “s” after “Saving.” We are saving daylight, not promoting a sale at the mall: “With 50% Daylight Savings on Everything!”) Based on the false pretense that it is even possible to save time or daylight, Daylight Saving Time is meant to extend daylight hours further into our evenings. Allegedly this helps farmers, who would otherwise probably feel bad for having to get up early to miss the sun’s heat. Don’t farmers have to get up early anyway? I thought that’s part of the job description.
Supposedly, the lack of Daylight Saving Time helps school children, who don’t want to walk to school in the dark. Aww, cry me a river! I used to walk to school at 4:30 every morning, and trust me, the sun wasn’t anywhere to be found. Granted, it wasn’t that bad because I was home-schooled, but I sometimes bumped into the bookshelf in the hallway on my way to the schoolroom.
This epic battle between our nation’s farmers and our nation’s school children can be easily solved without forcing the rest of us non-farmer post-school individuals to mediate their quibble and pay for it on the backs of our innocent timepieces. Whoever made these Daylight Saving Time rules never had to set digital clocks on coffeemakers, microwaves, car dashboards, or home theater equipment. So tedious are these tasks that most Americans take weeks to accomplish them or leave them undone for six months. This is a travesty. The solution is closer than you might think, however, located in our northernmost state, Alaska.
All our farmers could move to Alaska during the long dark months of the year, easily accomplishing every day’s chores in the 16-20 hours of darkness every new day brings, without so much as breaking a sweat. Then, as the days grow longer in the summer months, we can ship our nation’s school children to Alaska for special school sessions. Their extra-long school days can end with a very non-scary walk home at 10:00 p.m. in broad daylight. The rest of us can thus live like the rest of the world who never have to tamper with their timepieces or live with the daily reminder of their failure to adjust the time for the farmers’ sake.
The other solution, of course, is to let the farmers and school kids, who do not have nearly as many clocks to reset as the rest of us, play with their little Daylight Saving Time idea all by themselves. Just leave the rest of us out of it. I would not mind if a farmer showed up late to my party. Or early. The first hour of a party is not that important, anyway, and if he arrives early, I could keep him busy milking my goats. Or milking my soybeans, if my wife is lactose intolerant.
As for the school kids, who have obviously never heard of the amazing new invention called a “flashlight,” a well-lit bounce house will keep them entertained for hours, no matter what time they show up. And that is if we even choose to invite these pretentious, allegedly-afraid-of-the-dark Daylight Walkers to our parties.
The real question is if all this drama over a bit of sunshine even matters in our modern age. Deep in the heart of upstate New York, I rode shotgun in the spacious, air-conditioned cab of a combine, with the radio blaring and the thing steering itself via GPS. We blew past an Amish guy on the farm next to ours, sweating it out with his horse in the sun, blissfully unaware of all the daylight that had been saved for people like him.
And who still walks to school in the dark? Even bankrupt Detroit, which lost 40% of its streetlights in the economic collapse, found the funding it needed to replace every one. For some reason, children still refuse to walk to school in Detroit, however, despite the new lights. For the love of the city, the ungrateful brats should proudly walk to school by streetlight, even if some things are so derelict they shouldn’t be illuminated.
For those who are still afraid of the dark, modern technology has brought the schoolhouse to their front door, if they keep the internet by the front door, that is. Online courses from nearly every school imaginable—Harvard, Yale, Kahn, and TED, for example—are free for the taking, with absolutely no walking in the dark necessary. A truly win-win scenario, assuming that Harvard wants to have whiny Daylight Saving Time-hating chumps as alumni.
We should also boldly ask ourselves if catering to these special-interest groups really does that much good. It clearly creates more work and frustration for the rest of us, so does it do any good for the minorities involved to have such a thing as Daylight Saving Time? How will a farmer ever get his famous below-the-sleeves “Farmer’s Tan” if we have catered to his wishes and allowed him to work in the dark of night? And how will millions of school children ever be able to face their own kids someday if they can’t claim that they “walked to school in the dark and snow, uphill both ways?” Good luck with that.
I say we blindfold every farmer and farmer’s kid and non-farmer’s kid. That way, we can pretend it is whatever time we want, no matter the actual location of the sun in the sky nor our actual proximity to Juneau.
Me? I’ve opted to live in Arizona, where they choose to not celebrate Daylight Saving Time, so they don’t have to spend forever re-setting clocks and watches. It’s called Time Saving Time, and you other states should try it.