Daylight Savings Time is a curious burden on the ease of our lives that many of us have come to despise. I never know what time it really is anymore. Is it actually this time now, or was it actually that time then? I don’t believe anyone truly knows.
This past round trip, I declared war on Daylight Savings Time. Here's how it happened.
Back in March or April or May, or whatever month it is that The Time Tyrants first toy with our time - when our clock settings were supposed to be changed - I simply refused. Not all around the house. Just on the digital clock on my bedside table.
I'd like to say it began as a matter of principle, a noble declaration of Chrono-War on “Them. ” When they say “frog, " we're expected to spring forward, and I'd like to say I was resisting like a good Freedom Fighter.
But no. The ugly truth is, the clock is old, and the buttons are stuck and very hard to push, and I am plain lazy. I just put it off. I knew that I would have to reset the clock anyway, the next time the electrical power went off, so I just waited for that to happen, as I figured it was bound to.
But a week passed, then two, and the electricity never did fail. A month went by. Two months. Three.
That's when it actually became My War. I realized that I could beat Them. Outwait Them. An all-out Time Siege that would go down in history. I smirked. This was War, and I was 3 months into it before I even realized that it was War.
Nothing good comes without sacrifice, of course. For the entire duration of my siege, I had to do arithmetic in my head. When I awoke in the early morning hours to see what time it was, I had to perform a sleepy mental calculation. “No, it's not 4:30 a. m. , it's 5:30 a. m. " When I went to bed, I had to realize it was 11 pm, not 10. For all those long months, I was forced to do the math every time I looked at the lighted red digits on that old clock by my bed.
But it was a worthy exercise, for it had become my own personal protest against this madness known as Daylight Savings Time. If the world wouldn't join me, then I would do it alone. History has taught us, in fact, that most heroes do act alone. I knew that if I endured, finally one day my clock would be correct again. Not having “sprung forward, ” there would be no need to “fall back. " I was going to beat Them. With each passing day, I came closer to glory.
This entire battle strategy presumed, of course, that the electrical power would never go off during the months of summer and early fall. If that happened, then a draw would be declared between me and the Timemasters. No harm, no foul, and I would just reset my clock to the correct time.
But the power never failed, and I realized this was a sure sign that God was on my side. For six months now, I had been reading the incorrect time, and doing the mental math, and waiting, waiting, waiting. Waiting for that victorious day when my clock would be correct again. When My War would be won, and the world would be set right.
It happened. Saturday night, sometime in the middle of the night when no one was watching, my clock corrected itself. Or rather, time conceded. The next morning, Sunday, when my clock said 6 o'clock, it was actually 6 o'clock. I had WON!
I woke up early that morning, and with a huge grin, told Roxanne how I had beat the system. I bragged that my clock, with the unwavering red digits and the pulsing red dots and the buttons that are hard to push, that my good old bedside clock, was once again displaying the correct time. I may not have won The War, I declared, but I certainly won this battle.
Roxanne just sniffed as if she thought the entire exercise had been dumb. Well, still. I won. My clock was right, and I hadn't had to push a single button. I won. “OK, fine, ” I told her, “if you don't care. Still, I did win. I did. ”
"Good for you, " she said, and rolled over, sleeping until 10:30 on Sunday morning, according to my now - so - correct clock.
As the day went by I gloried in triumph sublime. Roxanne could think whatever she wanted; no one was going to diminish my victory. I'd fought and beaten Daylight Savings Time. How many people can say that? I looked proudly at that clock several times during the day. I was in tune with its correctness. I was content with the rightness of the world.
Now jump ahead to the next day.
It's Monday, only a single day after the time change and my historic victory. The morning household rituals are going on, my family getting ready for school and work. I walk past the bedroom door, where I see Roxanne sitting at her makeup table. A four-light bar over the mirror glares as brightly as the sun. A curling iron rests on the vanity in front of her. A hair dryer is in her hand, humming its frizzy Monday morning blues.
I go into the kitchen, where the lights are on, and the microwave, cooking morning oatmeal. The microwave? NOOO! That will be too much wattage for the circuit breaker to handle!
I step quickly toward the buzzing oven to turn it off, but before I can reach it, I hear a series of sharp, furious clicks, coming from the closet in the hall that conceals the main circuit panel. Click, click, clikclickclickbzzzzzzzzz. . . then a final, resounding CLAAAAKKK! as the breaker switch is thrown.
As power goes out, I am engulfed in silence and darkness and despair. The kitchen has become a cold, dark, lonely place. There is no joy in the world. Tears form on my cheeks.
From the bedroom, Roxanne asks, “What happened?"
Choking back the sobs, swallowing the lump in my throat, I reply in as few words as possible, “Threw a breaker. " In the darkness, I turn the microwave off. But it’s too late. I have been sucker-punched, blasted by friendly fire, my short-lived victory nuked by a microwave oven.
Shell-shocked, I make my way to the door of the closet, open it in the dark, reach around and find the circuit panel, feel for the vagrant flipper, the one breaker switch that is pointing wrong, all wrong, so wrong. I throw it back to the left. Light and sound return to the household.
I walk into our bedroom; hopelessly hoping that maybe, just maybe, a spark of life remains in the 9-volt battery that is supposed to back up the clock when the power goes off. But the battery is seven or eight years old. I look, and I see the truth, and I feel the savage agony of loss and defeat, as my bedside clock blinks its blood red message of surrender:
12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00
Ted Thompson is a freelance writer living in Harrison, Arkansas. More of his works can be seen at his website http://www.phfft.com