Spring has sprung which brings to mind that age-old annual question: How many people actually think daylight saving time means we gained an hour?
Or did we lose an hour? I can never remember although I imagine it’s all a matter of perspective. In the morning hours that once had the tinge of sunlight but now remain dark, the sense is that we certainly lost some precious morning hours. The internal clock has yet to reset itself which means the external digital numbers glaring at my fluttering eyelids each workday morning are at least an hour past where they should be.
On the other hand, leaving work — on a good day — when there is still a bit of daylight out feels like the world has gained some time. The daylight time jump forward coupled with that Earth year rotation moving us into spring officially starting Thursday makes the days seems longer, as though there’s opportunity for a little fun and mischief beyond the rote wake-up, go to work, go home, go to bed routine. Walking the dog after work. Stopping at the store for those last-minute groceries. Lingering longer past happy hour. All are more palatable when the day doesn’t feel quite so late.
That hour might be more lost than a Malaysian airliner and cause more morning chaos and tardiness than usual but all seems worth it when compared to the benefits: forgoing the extra sweater or coat in the evening, not needing to immediately flip on the car lights before driving, having the dashboard clock actually display the real numbers instead of the hour-off figures from the past autumn when standard time took over.
Those states that refuse to play the daylight saving time game can go stuff it. Maybe they’re fans of consistency but I favor the twice-yearly present that makes silly folks like myself feel like we gained something even if we know it to be completely untrue. Ignorance is bliss; lies we tell ourselves, even better.
The other question raised by daylight saving time will undoubtedly never be answered: who in the world taught my dogs to tell time? The furry guys have no watch, no smartphone and not even an opposable thumb to tick off the hours but somehow — dare I say, like clockwork — know what time to whimper for their morning trip outside and, more importantly, when to eat.
God forbid 8 a.m. or 5 p.m. hits while I’m home and I haven’t yet filled up the food dishes with their daily allotment of brown and orange kibble. Riley is the worst. Or maybe best is a better description since he knows the time. In any case, if I’m nose deep in a project or have my attention diverted elsewhere, the Jack Russell terrier mix will either jump in my lap as if to say “Hey, look at me” or sit quietly and give me a stare that could freeze a person at 50 paces.
What do you want? I used to ask in his early days.
Now, I just look down at my phone or up at the wall. Clockwork, I said.
So if these animals have nothing to go on but some internal gauge, how in the world did they know less than two weeks ago to adjust it? And why are they faring better at this daylight saving time shift than their human companion?
Eventually, my internal timepiece and that on my nightstand will match up. But in the meantime, I will rely on the dogs, the alarm clock, heavy doses of coffee and a knowingly misguided belief that I’m recouping that extra hour. No pain, no gain.
Michelle Durand’s column “Off the Beat” runs every Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. What do you think of this column? Send a letter to the editor: email@example.com.