Or Why I Hate Daylight Saving Time.
This guy here, William Willett, he’s the one you can blame for the loss of one hour of sleep Saturday night. And you can also blame him for taking away that lovely, motivational SUNLIGHT that was just starting to help you wake yourself and your family up at 7:00 am. And, you can also toss some rotten tomatoes at him when you realize it’s nearly 7:00 pm and you haven’t made supper yet, because IT’S STILL LIGHT OUTSIDE and so you thought it was only 4:30!
And do you know why? Why did this dude think it would be a good idea to turn our clocks forward (forward!) just when it’s starting to get light in the mornings again? I’ll tell you why. Now get ready, and try to resist the urge to throw something large and heavy at Mr. Willett when you hear.
William Willett invented the concept of Daylight Saving Time because…get ready for it…he was an avid golfer and he hated having to wind up his round of golf at dusk. So he figured what the hell? If we just said, “no, it’s not 6:30, it’s actually 7:30!” that would fix the problem. Apparently he was struck with the idea for Daylight Saving Time while taking an early morning ride in his carriage – so dismayed was he that so many Londoners were sleeping away the bright morning hours, that he thought he’d just get them all to change the time so they could use the daylight hours “for leisure”. Moralistic little bugger, too, wasn’t he?
Really, was it just the era (you know, the Industrial Revolution) giving these men all strange notions that they could tinker with absolutely everything, including time itself? I mean, honestly, could you imagine just whipping off a proposal to have everyone change their clocks forward and backward twice a year? Wha??? And not for any really convincingly good reason, either.
See, I always thought the whole idea of Daylight Saving Time had something to do with farmers, somehow. I’d say to someone, “why do we have Daylight Saving Time anyway? It’s such a pain…” and they’d always respond with “it’s for the farmers.” And for years and years, that was enough for me. But then one day it hit me: which province is, like, 99% farmers? Saskatchewan. And which province doesn’t go with the DST flow like the rest of us? Saskatchewan. So there goes the “it’s for the farmers” theory.
Then I woke up this morning (in the DARK, thank you very much Mr. Willett) and decided I had to do something about it. I’d find out what was behind this diabolical clock-shifting madness that takes us over every spring and fall, and I’d show them all how foolish it all is, and then some big UN person (or something) would say, “yeah, Kath, you’re right! This doesn’t make any sense. And anyway, the farmers don’t actually like it and we all thought we were doing it for them. So let’s cancel Daylight Saving Time!” And then the world would adore me and anoint my feet and…oh, whatever.
But seriously. I did decide to do a little reasearch, à la wikipedia (is there any other kind, anymore, I wonder?) and that’s when I discovered Mr. William Willett and his penchant for golf and moralizing. AND! I also discovered that some other equally unsavoury characters were behind the whole DST phenomenon (conspiracy, anyone? anyone??). So: if the farmers don’t actually like DST (even though we all thought we were doing it for their honest, hardworking, food-providing souls) who does like it? I’ll tell you who:
- RETAILERS. Guess why? Apparently whe buy more when there are more hours of daylight after work. Really. We do.
- SPORTING GOODS MANUFACTURERS/SPORTING EVENTS/SPORTING FACILITIES. Again, the more daylight hours after work, the more we watch, do and buy stuff for sports. According to wikipedia, “the National Golf Foundation estimated [a seven week] extension [of DST] would increase golf industry revenues from $200 million to $300 million”. There’s that damn golf again!
- FAST FOOD RESTOS/CONVENIENCE STORES. Evidently we not only shop more and golf more during DST, we also buy more french fries. Yes, it’s true. So true, in fact, that in 1987 (the last time the US extended DST – uh, before last year, that is) both Idaho senators voted in favour of the extension on the grounds that people eat more french fries during DST…fries are made from potatoes…potatoes are grown in Idaho…see where this is going? And the top lobby group behind the 2007 extension of DST? The National Association of Convenience Stores.
So, basically, the whole thing started because some snooty English goody-goody wanted to get everyone “early to bed, early to rise” so that, basically, he could play more golf. And now we’re stuck with it because, well, big business wants us to – ah – play more golf. And buy stuff. Especially french fries.
And you just know that in a few more years these same big corporate lobby groups are going to convince some US president that it’s time to extend DST yet again, and the rest of us gormless followers (aka the Canadian government) will go along with it. And eventually we’ll be setting our clocks back in December and forward in January, and eating french fries in unheard-of numbers…probably right on the golf course! Which, by the way, negates any (marginal) health benefits there may be in golf. So there, William Willett! Your attempts to get us out (golfing) in the fresh daylight have only turned us into consumeristic french-fry-eating fatties. Who also golf. Is this really what you had in mind?
And one day, maybe, the madness will end and we’ll all wake up to the realization that changing the numbers on the clock does not actually save any daylight, nor does it cause you to gain or lose an hour of sleep. ‘Cause really: if you haven’t figured out that you should just go to bed an hour earlier on Saturday night then you probably don’t know how to change the time on your clock anyway. And maybe, someday, time again will just be, well, time. Which is precious and fleeting enough without having to waste it on foolishness. Like golf. And french fries. And changing every clock in the damn house.
In the meantime, though, I have to get used to waking up in the dark again, and I have to fight with my kids to get ready for bed when it’s still light outside. And I’ll be cursing Mr. William Willett all the way!