It seemed a good idea at the time. The workman starting and ending his day during the daylight while still adhering to the hours specified in his contract or posted on the shingle outside of his door. Then, when the children were set to a contract of schooling, it was justified by the benefit of pupils being able to see their way each day to the classroom and then home again. As our world became more mechanized, the regularity imposed by its factory jobs would be made slightly less harsh by saving an hour from the longer spring and summer days and spending it during the shorter fall and winter days. At least, that is the way daylight savings time has been marketed to us through its name.
Of course, the absurdities of that sales pitch have been obvious to all. A day still consists of twenty-four hours, or close enough for practical purposes. We are just shifting the clocks forward an hour on some day in hailing distance of spring and shifting the clocks backward an hour on some day in the fall. Many places find it so absurd that they forgo the practice altogether. Yet in this land of fixed work and school schedules, we cling to the absurdities of daylight savings time and make those who keep to regular time the exception.
However, the real shibboleth in the support for daylight savings time foolery only becomes apparent when we consider that cultural icon to workplace schedules, celebrated in prose and verse: 9 to 5. Even when our own workday is 8:30 am to 5:00 pm with a half hour for lunch, or something earlier or later or hideously longer or variable, we still refer to it as our 9 to 5. Similar to that standard schedule for work, there is a less iconic schedule for schools of 8 to 3. Yet it is that schedule which brings the greatest support for daylight savings time. The thought of our babies waiting for a school bus in the predawn hours is too much for us to bear, and so we support the cart-before-horse arrangement which is in place.
The merchant is more practical. They post summer hours, holiday hours, special hours to suit their customers. They do not wait for a changing of everybody’s clocks to set the hours appropriate to the season. Daylight savings time is irrelevant to them.
It is high time that the workplaces and the schools did the same and stop relying on daylight savings time to set their schedules and work days. The schools, in particular, need to have separate, shorter hours for the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Factory and office workers need to have a corresponding schedule to accommodate the parents.