Daylight Raving Time


Obviously the biggest crisis facing us as Americans these days is the evil government conspiracy known as daylight-saving time. This is evidenced by the following letter, which I read in the Salt Lake Tribune on May 2, and which is representative of several letters I have read recently in other papers:

“Well, here we go again with DST (Daylight Stupid Time). Just when we were able to enjoy getting up when there was light in the sky, we have to change our clocks to go along with this antiquated and asinine ritual. Why can’t we be sensible and get out of this ridiculous procedure? … It messes up our natural rhythm, just like jet lag does when we go to another time zone….”

The letter was written by Sharon Simonson of Salt Lake City, and I think she raises some very valid points. For example, prior to reading her letter, I might have thought that she had actual PROBLEMS in her life, like everyone else does. Now I see her deepest concern is that it is sometimes dark when she gets up in the morning. One wonders how she is able to find the courage to get up at all, what with such trials facing her.

(I also think it was very clever of her to refer to it as “Daylight Stupid Time.” This is almost as clever as the letter-writers who refer to President Clinton as “Slick Willie,” as though they were the first ones ever to think of it.)

Every April, when we turn the clocks forward and lose an hour of sleep one night, there are letters like this, and usually an article or two about how someone’s trying to pass legislature to get rid of daylight-saving time. This mainly occurs in backwards states like Mississippi and Utah. The reasoning is that the loss of sleep causes an increase in traffic accidents, that kids can’t pay attention in school, and that work productivity goes down — all because we lose that one hour.

My main problem with this line of thinking is that it’s stupid. Losing an hour of sleep does NOT cause more traffic accidents, nor do kids become narcoleptic. It just doesn’t make sense. It really doesn’t matter whether I get four hours of sleep, or eight hours. I would prefer eight, but I can still function either way. Who are these people who get EXACTLY the same amount of sleep EVERY SINGLE NIGHT, so that when they lose an hour one night in April all of a sudden they fall asleep at the wheel and drive their cars into ditches? The only people who would be THAT screwed up by missing one hour of sleep one night are old people, and they shouldn’t be driving anyway.

And speaking of driving, last week I talked about my car, Pedro, getting fouled up at Idiot Brothers’ Auto Repair, but I never mentioned what I wound up doing to get him all fixed. As a result, many of you have expressed concern over Pedro’s current condition. (By “many of you,” I of course mean “none of you.” I wrote this column weeks ago, before you even knew he was having problems.)

What I eventually did was take him somewhere else. This second place was much better than the first, insofar as it was conveniently located across the street from my apartment. The guy there told me that I (well, my car) had an oil leak, and I could actually believe him, because I had a long list of people who had requested I not park in their driveways anymore because of the huge puddle of oil that I (well, my car) always leave there. I told him to fix the oil leak.

Thus began The Process. When I have a car problem, I go in early in the morning and leave the car, which the mechanic sets out to work on. I also leave a large pile of money, which the mechanic uses to buy cigarettes. A few hours later, the mechanic calls and tells me he has discovered a new, different problem, more expensive than the first one, and that I really ought to have this new problem fixed, too, or else the car will never get out of first gear again so long as it shall live. I agree, and I bring in some more money. Time passes, and I get another phone call, this one nearly frantic, as the mechanic explains a wildly dangerous new problem, a problem that, if gone unfixed, will result in the decline of Western civilization. I pretend to understand what he’s talking about and gasp in astonishment that such a thing could be wrong with my car, and I bring down some more money. Then, a while later, I get yet another call, this time with the mechanic practically in tears as he weeps for the condition of my car. Usually this third call involves a car part that is evidently manufactured in Madagascar, because 1) the name of it is a word I do not understand; 2) it will take days for it to arrive; and 3) it will cost several million dollars.

And so the mechanics work all day long, hurrying to make sure Pedro is nowhere near being ready when the shop closes at 5. But eventually, he’s fixed, and he runs like new. Except in April, when he loses that hour of sleep.

Most people say "daylight savings time," and most people would probably write it "Daylight Savings Time." I learned this is wrong, and perhaps even evil, according to the AP style guide, which is what nearly all newspapers go by. It's "daylight-saving time." Not capitalized, and it's "saving," not "savings." It's amazing what you learn when you have to.

I'd been wanting to do the bit on daylight-saving time for quite a while, and I finally got my chance when I saw that letter in the paper. And fortunately, it sort of tied in with the whole car/driving thing, which I had left over from the previous week's column, which is where it probably should have gone, except that then that column would have been huge, and this one would have been tiny, with only the daylight-saving time issue to discuss.