This week put an official end to Daylight Saving Time for the year. Most of us dutifully set our clocks back an hour, and didn't give much thought to the matter. In November we "fall back," in March, we "spring ahead." So what?
I got to wondering: Why does Daylight Saving Time (DST for short) exist? What is the purpose for changing the clocks? Are we supposed to be saving daylight or saving time? Is either possible?
Think how great it would be to bank time and save it for a later date. You could save minutes from a boring, rainy morning and add them to an afternoon at the beach. We could stretch out the good things in life, like amusement-park rides and cotton candy, while minimizing others - dentist appointments, long car rides and a class lecture on the origin of Daylight Saving Time. Birthdays before age 30 would be doubled in hours; those after 30 could be cut in half. The possibilities are endless, albeit unfeasible. Unfortunately.
There are 24 hours in a day - no more, no less - and any amount of creative semantics or numerical manipulations isn't going to change that.
DST gives us the perception of more daylight at the end of the day because 7 p.m. is really 6 p.m. Sunset comes at a later hour, making it feel like the day is longer. It's psychological maneuvering for sure, but who can argue with the logic? I love summer, when it's sunny outside until way past supper and the day seems to stretch on forever.
So, even though it's a numbers game and we aren't creating any more day or light, I've decided I'm a proponent for DST. I believe it should be a permanent solution to our time-setting woes.
The alternative to DST is Standard Time, better known as darkness before dusk. I am not a fan of darkness. It makes me tired and cranky. Winter days are short enough as is, without compounding the problem by returning to Standard Time.
While DST seems to be filled with sunshine and light, Standard Time is bleak and blah. Oh sure, we get an extra hour of daylight in the wee hours of the morning, but who cares about that? During Standard Time, sunset comes shortly after school lets out in the afternoon. That is too early. I crave light during the evening.
No one wants to eat supper in the dark. It goes against the natural order of things. It's like living in New York where people think nothing of having supper long after sunset - at hours like 9 p.m. If I haven't eaten by 9 p.m., I'll probably just skip supper. Nine at night is a time for pajamas, not pork chops.
Besides, there are some real, authentic statistics that illustrate the negative potential of darkness. During Standard Time, when it gets dark earlier, things like traffic accidents and crime increase. This has to do with one factor: eyesight. When it is light, it is easier to drive and harder to mug people without being seen.
Economists, accountants and other number crunchers tell us that DST saves bucks because we don't have to turn our lights on as early in the evening. Ben Franklin knew this fact back in the olden days when he coined the phrase, "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise." Good old Ben pointed out that more daylight meant using fewer candles.
We save light bulbs; Benny saved wax and wicks. It's all the same in the end: DST is a good idea - so good that we should make it permanent. Why go back to Standard Time at all?
If DST were the standard, our lives would be simpler. We wouldn't have to spend minutes or even hours twice each year resetting all our clocks. We could come home from work and eat supper while the sun was shining. We wouldn't have to worry about showing up at church an hour late because we forgot to spring ahead. Best of all, silly phrases like "fall back" and "spring ahead" would be obsolete and meaningless.
Ben Franklin is often credited for inventing Daylight Saving Time. He was a smart man. I don't know who invented Standard Time, but if I could, I'd like to ask them a question: Why didn't you make it one hour later?