This was part of the “Why Life is Great” series which began as obvious insights for my kids and transformed into something just a tiny bit bigger. This is a repost of a previous newsletter.
Life is Great because your afternoons just got brighter plus modern technology made it easier to adjust to the time change
Sure, you were suppose to lose an hour of sleep today, but who are we kidding? You just woke an hour later. So don’t procrastinate, just read this newsletter fast and get a move on – there are clocks to be changed!!! This post started off as about 5 sentences and then I went into old man mode and it just got out of control – sorry.
You younger adults probably think I’m making too big a deal about a minor inconvenience like adjusting clocks, but you really don’t understand the horrors perpetrated by daylight saving time on previous generations!
To start, it is daylight “saving” not “savings.” This is according to Wikipedia, which is never wrong because it’s on the internet. You are darn lucky because I suspect when you woke this morning all your clocks and other gadgets were all magically reset and you were “cool” with that! For us old people, we woke up anxious due to our tragic childhood memories and suspicious because we don’t really trust self-adjusting clocks or anything else really.
Us older folks don’t purchase self-adjusting clocks, if we got one it’s because some young relative gave it us thinking it would make our lives easier; totally unaware of our paranoia. Anyway, us older folks keep mechanical clocks around the house to verify the time on those modern self-adjusting contraptions. Later in the day, we will also stare directly into the sun to confirm it is noon because we trust the sun, but still remain a bit skeptical about mechanical clocks or our sun dials.
Let me share with you younger readers the nightmare that was daylight saving! In the old days, we had to run around the house and manually adjust all the clocks because nothing adjusted itself. People adjusted clocks without telling each other, resulting in clocks being turned forward by several hours. As a child, you knew something was wrong when you got out of bed and the clock on the wall said 3 p.m.; there was no way you slept in that much—again!
At some point, no one knew which clock was correct, and your whole family lost all concept of time. When this happened, your father would drag himself over to the phone bolted to the kitchen wall while mumbling something like, “it happened again.” No, he did not just pull a phone out of his pocket. This phone’s only function was to make calls, as was the case for all phones at the time! He would let out a heavy sigh, squint at the letters on the rotary dial and slowly begin turning numbers corresponding to the letters “POPCORN .” The technological marvel that was POPCORN would tell him the correct time, so he could try to adjust the clocks again.
Before the readjustment, we would have our usual intense family meeting where father would announce that he, and only he, would adjust the clocks. He would declare himself the “Timekeeper” and would quiz us. “Who was the Timekeeper?” We would listen solemnly and agree that he was the Timekeeper, there was no other Timekeeper, and then proceed to help him adjust the clocks without telling him anything. Later, as the Timekeeper yelled at us, we would deny it all! It was good that Dad was bald otherwise he would have pulled out his hair.
This process would repeat itself several times and consumed most of the day. In the end, Dad would banish everyone outside and lock himself inside the house alone. This was particularly hard on cold rainy days since you couldn’t simply go to a neighbor’s house; most other families were also locked out. The streets were filled with mostly moms and children while men could be heard screaming from inside the homes that they were the Timemasters or some variation of it. This is how neighborhood sidewalk chalk art parties were invented. The smarter dads would finish quickly and join their families outside to enjoy the artwork, we were not so fortunate.
A great breakthrough came along in the 80s when 3M sticky notes were invented. Now the Timekeeper could run around the house and post a note on the adjusted clocks so no one else touched them and the Timekeeper himself did not accidentally adjust the same clock twice. Unfortunately, at the start, the 3M innovation was such a curiosity we would pull them off the clocks and stick them to other objects. We would deny it all of course, but the result was nonetheless outdoor banishment. It took a few years for the sticky note novelty to wear off before the family could be trusted to remain inside during the daylight saving event.
As an adult, I learned the time adjustment horror was never really over and finally began to have some sympathy for my father. After the obvious adjustments had been made, you’d get in the car and realize that the car radio or dashboard clock also needed to be adjusted. You’d get that done and exhale a sigh of relief thinking the whole ordeal was thankfully over. But no, the adjustment period could go on for weeks.
Often the next time you wanted to wear a different wristwatch, you’d get it out and realize it too needed to be adjusted. This problem has only been exacerbated by technology. Some nerd thought that it would be cool to create digital watches. However, the digital watches have all kinds of odd little buttons you need to push in different combinations to adjust the date and time; most still don’t self-adjust for daylight saving time. Worst of all when these hideous little digital gadgets became available, there was no internet. This meant if you lost the watch instructions telling you how to adjust the time on your wristwatch, you basically just left it in the drawer for the next six months while you waited for time to change back. Sometimes you had to store your watch in the garage because before losing the instructions you also programmed the alarm on it. This meant that the thing now beeps an hour earlier than you need it to and you have no idea how to change it.
Hopefully realizing how fortunate you are will help with any sadness you feel about losing an hour today?