A young, resentful girl sits alongside her father as he drives her to Hebrew School on a Sunday morning in mid-autumn. She is tired. It is still dark outside. Nine a.m. has never felt this early before, and the dreaded Sunday School commitment has never seemed like this much of a drag. She exhales loudly, folds her arms across her chest, and stares out of the window — all in one, swift, defiant move designed to show dad just how not-thrilled she is.
They pull into the parking lot, and, strangely, it is empty.
A cancellation? A day-off unnoticed in the calendar?
No way, Jose.
Silly dad, you have overlooked one minor detail this morning:
Daylight Savings is over.
And now you both sit, father and daughter, in an empty parking lot before a locked synagogue, feeling, well, dumb.
We’ve all been there, in some empty parking lot or (flash-forward) some not-yet-open dining hall, hoping no one will find us and ask why we’re up so early.
Forgetting to “fall back” is like falling on your face — you can only scramble back to bed and hope that no one will know your shame.
But this weekend marks a potential blunder from which we cannot hide:
It is time to “spring forward.”
And if you forget to set your clocks ahead before you fall asleep on Saturday, you won’t feel alone and stupid come Sunday. You’ll be late and stupid in front of your entire Hebrew School class. You’ll have missed brunch and the whole dining hall staff will know it. You’ll end up like Tom Wise ’02 (names have been changed), who told me, “Once I got trashed, forgot Daylight Savings, vommed in my bed, and missed a rehearsal. That’s funny.” Only you might not think it’s very funny.
You’ll be worse than stupid and alone. You’ll be stupid and humiliated.
This, dear readers, is Father Time’s April Fools Day trick on us all.
Or is it more like a government scam? Daylight Savings was, after all, established by federal law and is asserted by state law. And doesn’t it seem rather fascist for a government to dictate a nearly national defiance of time so we can have the luxury of an extra well-lit hour?
According to Webexhibits’ site on the matter, Daylight Savings — or Daylight Saving as it is officially though not popularly called — originated during World War I in order to save fuel needed to produce electric power. In 1919, President Wilson repealed the law, and only a few states and regions continued to pursue the time-bending system.
In World War II, President Roosevelt reinstituted Daylight Savings, but it was again eliminated as a federal law in 1945. Still, folks were observing Daylight Savings according to their own local laws and customs.
Radio and television stations got peeved. Transportation companies had to publish new schedules. Americans were missing “Leave it to Beaver.” And they didn’t like it.
The Uniform Time Act, enacted in 1966, standardized Daylight Savings across the United States, giving state legislatures the option to adopt or refuse the uniform system. It wasn’t until 1986 that the currently observed details were set into place.
Now if you’re from Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa or Indiana, you might not know what the heck I’m talking about. Your sunny paradises couldn’t stomach the idea of another hour of daylight, so they chose not to participate in Daylight Savings.
But wait. Indiana, you’re not a sunny paradise!
Indiana, drama queen that it is, willingly assumed the angsty role of that state who is in between time zones. The “middle child,” if you will. On Standard Time, Indiana rolls with the east coast crowd. But come April, our fair weather friend gets to be that grossly nice, down-home Midwestern state that just about everybody likes.
“Oh look at me I’m so tormented,” wails Indiana. “What is my identity? Who am I? My parents don’t love me, and I have no friends!”
And all the other states take out their tiny violins and play a sad song for poor, poor Indiana.
Poppycock. If we’re all going to succumb to fascist governmental manipulations of time, what makes you so cool, Indiana, that you can just sleep in this Sunday.
Let’s all go to Indiana on Saturday night and pick someone to wake up early. Show them how it feels.
Or if you choose not to join my crusade and stay here, instead, just remember to set your own clocks ahead.
I don’t want any of you face-first in vomit and late for rehearsal.
Liz Kinsley is a sunny paradise. Unlike Indiana.