Central Standard Time Sucks

Here’s something from my old blog about the switch back to standard time, written five years ago to mark this occasion, modified a bit. I’ll leave some but not all of the lefty political jabs in; it’s where I was at the time. And the math is different now that they jiggered the dates, but the point stands.

If I were King for a day (as opposed to the guy who’s declared himself King for eight years, not counting a last minute martial law declaration to nullify the 22nd Amendment and extend his reign), the very first thing I’d do is move Chicago into the Atlantic time zone. That’s the next one east of the Eastern time zone, GMT-4. And then the second thing I’d do is ban daylight savings time altogether. You may wonder about the geographic incongruity of moving Chicago’s time to be that of Puerto Rico’s, but this is where I live, and as King, I wouldn’t have to explain myself to you.

But the reason is this: daylight after work matters, and changing times twice a year sucks. The latter is obvious. I get such a kick out of the twentysomething news bimbos, pink and perfect, fresh from their day spa after a night at the clubs, cheerfully warbling on Saturday evening’s broadcast that “we’ll all get an extra hour of sleep tonight!” Boy are they going to get an education in the steely immutability of pediatric circadian rhythms after they squeeze out a few of their own, although it will likely be a problem for their nannies, not them.

I digress. To the former point, that daylight matters: today the sun is going to set here at 4:40pm. That’s about when I leave every day to go get the aforementioned early rising two-year-old from daycare. So I will be leaving the office in darkness, a state which will get steadily worse for the next seven weeks as we approach the winter solstice, and then improve slowly for about fifteen (!) more weeks before we change the clocks again (and then incur another round of sleep disorders as we have to rouse the groggy little bugger, dooming his day and probably ours, too). So for twenty-two straight weeks, I will arrive home in the dark. Is there any sterner reminder of the futility and depressing monotony of the rat race than having all your usable sunlight stolen by an act of Congress? I don’t want to hear about the additional sunlight in the morning; it’s wasted. What, am I going to have time or energy to do yard work in the morning before I go to work?

No. But if Chicago were declared to be in the Atlantic time zone right now, the sun would be setting at 6:40pm. Ah, now we’re getting somewhere! How much more optimistic and happier we’d all be without the daily reminder that we’ve burned another day of our lives at the office, never to get it back. Shorter of breath, one day closer to death. Driving to the office in the dark is no problem, since to my mind the weekday divides into The Man’s part and my part. He’s already got me from the time I wake up and start stressing out about the work in front of me. But the second half (really, the fourth quarter) of the day is mine. Scoff if you will, but to me and to many other photophiles, having even an hour of sunlight after work is a concrete reminder that the day isn’t metaphorically dead, and that while you may have paid your dues for the last 10 hours, there is still some part of your life that The Man doesn’t own.

I suppose that’s setting my sights too low if I’m made King. There are probably more urgent matters to solve. But not today, the first day of the worst twenty-two weeks of the year.