Time Crunch

Have you noticed lately how everyone but me shows up an hour early? It’s not like I was competing for any Mr. Punctual awards—one of the perks of being a writer is that folks expect such eccentricities as me arriving late, or on a unicycle, or not at all. But this latest trend really had me wondering whether I was the sole punctual person in an Early World.

So I did some research. And, yes, I am the only conscientious person in America today, outside of Hawaii and Arizona. We three entities stand united against the federally instituted rudeness that not only increases traffic accidents and heart attacks, and not only costs the economy $434 million dollars a year, and not only forces me to lose an hour of sleep on Saturday night—but that also forces us all to lose forty MORE minutes of sleep on Sunday night!

droste clockNo, not the Academy Awards. I’m talking about something much more sinister, if less controversial: Daylight Saving Time, the annual period where I forget whether it’s “spring forward” or “spring back,” because both make sense.

Daylight Saving Time has insinuated itself under the guise of “conserving energy.” For instance, we conserve a TON of energy otherwise spent contemplating leaving our jobs. Just as it gets light outside in the mornings and we can see the beautiful world we’re missing out on… BAM! we’re slammed back into predawn darkness. “Might as well go to work!” we sing.

Also, we supposedly save electricity by not using lights during summer evenings. But studies show that these energy savings are more than offset by our air conditioners and my upstairs neighbors’ archaic vacuum cleaner.

old vacuumsSeriously, this piece of equipment sounds like a dentist’s oversized drill cleaning the barnacle plaque off a ship’s hull. It sounds like a propeller cheese-grating a granite block. It sounds like haggis smells. It is enough to drive me from my home, which is why I go other places, where everyone else is an hour early. I am snagged in what the Germans call a Teufelskreis.

Yet despite snaring me in an ominous-sounding foreign word, “they” keep trying to sell Daylight Saving Time. “They” suggest that depriving us of just one measly little sleepy-time hour a year will allow us to barbecue with our families in that small window after work and before Game of Thrones.

However, when I peeled back the layers, I discovered that Daylight Saving Time is not the real villain here. It’s just the easy culprit to finger, like blaming laziness for obesity, or President Obama for World War I.

The real problem, clearly, is work. Going to work in the dark, coming home from work in the dark. It’s work that keeps us from finishing our taxes, organizing the silverware drawer, and getting to know our children. I move we abolish work!

Of course, we can’t abolish EVERYONE’s work. We have to preserve some essential jobs, like farmers, truck drivers, grocers, cooks, cleaners, street sweepers, street pavers, street painters, street walkers, the folks who make socks, pilots, garbage collectors, plumbers, publishers, tech support, doctors, and lingerie models. But the REST of us will never have to worry about Daylight Saving Time—or clocks in general—ever again!

lingerie modelI realize that I am a dreamer, and my vision of utopia is unlikely to reach fruition so long as the lingerie models’ union maintains a death grip on democracy. So I propose a grand compromise: why don’t we trade Daylight Saving Time for a shorter work week?

Hear me out. I, as a representative cross-section of middle-class white male America, have held a number of jobs wherein I spent the vast majority of my time pretending to look busy in order to remain on the payroll. My bosses believed that my tasks required eight hours a day, and my primary duty was to prove them right. In reality, they paid me to read web comics.

But humans are like gasses; we will fill whatever space is given to us. If my jobs had paid me just as much money, but given me only two hours to complete my tasks, I would have accomplished the SAME amount of work, while reading web comics much more hastily.

So if we all worked even four hours a day really, really hard, we could go home and barbecue to our hearts’ content. We could all learn another language, and start riding unicycles, and show up late everywhere we go! We might even discover we like our families! Then my utopic vision would have to stick, because we’d all be completely unemployable.


This piece originally appeared in the New Mexico Mercury and The KC Post.

You might have noticed that instead of posting a teaser on Tuesday, I posted the whole column on Friday. I know, I know; that’s, like, THREE WHOLE DAYS LATER. Chillax; if you want Fool’s Gold earlier in the week, just go to the sources. Right now, the Mercury and the Post both publish on Tuesdays. And I always post the links on Twitter and Facebook then, too.

This way, you see Fool’s Gold in original factory quality right here at ZHI.*

*Zach Hively International! Everybody else thinks in airport codes too, right?


(Featured image, “Droste Clock,” copyright Jlhopgood/CC. Old vacuum cleaners copyright Paul Lewin/CC. Lingerie model copyright Julian King/CC.)


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