Long Day’s Journey into Light


I’m convinced the only real reason we still have daylight saving time is so that twice a year, newspapers and broadcast news can have an easy story for a couple of days about changing clocks and people being late or early.  Every spring and fall, reporters look forward to having a slam dunk story they don’t have to do any new work for, because it’s the same story year after year after year.  So I hope they all enjoy it.  Because that’s about the only tangible thing I see coming out of it.

Now, before you all start saying, “But Richard, we get an extra hour of daylight,” let’s put that to bed:  YOU DO NOT GET AN EXTRA HOUR OF DAYLIGHT.  A day is exactly as long as it’s ever going to be, regardless of whatever man-made contrivance we use to make distinct periods within it.  The sun will be out for the same number of hours every day whether we say sunrise is at 6:45 AM or 7:45 AM or the Fourth of Quadingus or Strawberry.  We’re not magically extending anything by turning our clocks ahead one hour.

And let’s be honest here:  what exactly are you doing with this supposed “extra” hour of daylight?  If most of you answered anything but, “Squinting harder into the sun during my drive home,” you’re probably lying.  Because I don’t see hordes of people out until 7 or 8 enjoying this benefit.  Everybody keeps doing exactly what they always do, just with the sun sticking around for it a little longer.  Okay, I’ll give you the weekends, but I’m sorry, the three or four days of me feeling totally out of sync isn’t worth you being able to grill an hour later come this July.

Some will argue it saves energy, because we don’t have to turn our lights on until later in the day.  Please show me the Little House on the Prairie wannabes who don’t turn their lights on the second they get home.  For the most part, we abhor natural light the way nature abhors a vacuum.  We could live on Mercury and we’d still want the lights on all day.  Fact is, it’s usually so damn hot, we’ve got the blinds all shut tight, so that free light isn’t getting in anyway.  And besides, the power we’re supposedly saving at night is just getting sucked back in in the morning when it’s still pitch black when most of us are getting up.  And when your kids are standing out waiting for the school bus.

Finally, don’t tell me it’s for the farmers.  They’re not out in the field with a plow hooked up to an ox.  They don’t need to wring every last bit of planting time out of the daylight.  And anyway, the schedule of the entire country shouldn’t be based on Old McDonald being able to drive his tractor before dusk.

It’s the 21st century.  We can communicate instantly with the other side of the globe.  Why do we need this comforting illusion of having more of something we just arbitrarily assigned a system to anyway?  Why do we have to go through this ballet of dashing around the house trying to find all the clocks that don’t adjust automatically?  Why, if this extra daylight is so great, don’t we just stick to daylight time all year long and forego the biannual grumbling and complaining and biorhythmic adjusting?  It would all be so much simpler.  And I’d be so much less tired.

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