Daylight Savings Lament (give me one more hour) By John Watts


running late.jpg

Truth be told–I have struggled mightily to function for the better part of my adulthood.  And I think I know why.

I can trace most of this failing back to the loss of a precious hour from a daylight savings switch back in my mid-20s.  I can even put my finger on the exact year this happened and I know the problem has only compounded and gotten worse since, because of it.

It was the spring of my youth.  I was just about to blossom into full flower. I was expecting a call to see if I qualified for a paid internship at my local community college.  The plan was that I would work at the campus book store and get all of my textbooks for free from the campus as an added bonus.

I was stoked!

But as fate would have it, on the morning that the Business Manager at the book store was calling me at 9 AM at home; I was deep in slumber land as a college kid often is at that hour, and unaware of opportunity ringing its bell.

It happened to also be on the exact day of MOVING AHEAD an hour with daylights savings.  Needless to say I missed that detail too.  In fact I WOULD have woken up in time to answer that call if not for the HOUR switch ahead.

To make a long story short, I lost the internship and the position at the book store and it was given instead to one of my most hated rivals, Rupert Chapple, a smug do-gooder who always seemed to lead a charmed life ever since being born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

Rupert ended up opening up a chain of bookstores and becoming the Head of the Literacy Council for our county.  I struggled for years at the community college until finally getting kicked out on academic probation 4 years later.  I now work on the loading docks at the college, operating a fork lift and other heavy machinery as I scoop up crates of electronic devices for the school.

Ever since, it doesn’t matter what the yearly cycle is.  I could be told to add an hour or lose one.  I could feel cheated about my lack of sleep for the weekend or luxuriate over an added one.  Either way, I automatically find myself wanting (no needing) one extra hour to make my life more complete and successful.

I can’t help but feel that I would be a much better man and a far more complete one if I could just have that EXTRA hour back as a buffer to protect me when I need it the most—whether it be having more time before going to work, having more time to Christmas shop or extra time before the Redskins game kicks off on Sunday.

Dear reader I must tell you–I constantly try to trim time—like a butcher that never gets a prime cut.  And consequently I have been seduced into playing “justification” games with time ever since.  Longitudinal stuff like “well if I was only 28 and was doing what I am doing now at 48 THEN I would be considered very successful” or short term ponderings like “If only I wrote the date on the check as being yesterday and not today’s date before mailing in my bill.  That wouldn’t look so bad then.”

It all stems from that same daylight savings shortcoming from so long ago.

Even just this past Saturday, the one day of the week where I should feel at peace, I was still feeling the stress.  At 11AM I was caught in the dilemma of wondering if I should get the dog on a walk, go to the bank before noon or visit my Mom—all before my wife got back from doing what she was doing.

And I thought back to the TV shows I had been watching at 10AM and wished I could turn the clock back to that simpler time so I could munch on cereal and drink coffee again.  Oh that was a good time!  If only I could be THAT relaxed again.

And then, thinking of my current late predicament, I wished I could have skipped one of the television shows so that I would be a half hour ahead of the time I was dealing with now.


Which leads me to today.  I woke up this morning deciding to live a little differently.

I would  seize the day and rage against the hand of fate dealt me.

I decided that if I couldn’t be more efficient than I would speed past the slump I was in and get back to where I was supposed to be (had I not squandered that first Daylight Savings opportunity in my youth).

So I sped thru breakfast.

I skipped my morning dose of PRE work television.

I had my coffee pre made the night before so it was ready to go.

I slept in my work suit, which was bought wrinkle free so as to skip dressing.

I even told my dog to wait until later in the day for my wife to walk him.

And I climbed into my green Honda element and floored it as fast as I could—pedal flush to the metal.  In fact I drove so fast that the watchful hawk that always stares mournfully at the highway traffic from atop his telephone wire perch when I go by, wasn’t even aware of my presence this time.

I drove SO fast that I threw off the police and all the other commuters who were used to seeing me at my normal, hopelessly late clip.

I was hurdling through time and space so fast that the cheeks on my face began to flutter and jiggle like a bowl of Jell-O.

Apparently by going at this outrageous speed and actually testing the furthest limits of my accelerator, I had now advanced beyond the scenery and plot that had been allotted to me in my particular “Truman Show.”

This was the precise moment that I saw him.  It was the same green Honda element as I had with the same roof rack ahead of me.  Then it dawned on me.  It was the one hour ahead me I was seeing and NOT the late one hour behind one I had turned into.

I must admit it was spooky to see the alternative “on time” me in the car lane ahead of me.

After all–an occurrence like this might just rip the entire space time continuum as I knew it!

As I pulled closer and flanked this other ME, I couldn’t help but notice how much more refined and polished he was compared to the hopeless me I was.  This on time ME obviously was more organized and had taken the time to dress himself better.  His (I mean the other ME’s) green Honda Element was much better displayed too.  The tires were new and the exterior had obviously been recently polished.

One thing for sure, the envy I was feeling for this ON TIME me was making me GREENER than either of my Honda Elements.

I had to do something.  So as I flanked the other me I rolled down my window and prepared to see if I could somehow compromise and exchange lives with him (me).

And just as I was about to shout my intentions, I caught a closer glimpse of this super successful me.  Something was wrong.

This other me seemed just as unhappy and empty as the unfortunate, REAL me that I had become.  He was tied on his cell phone and looked downright harassed.  Such was the intensity with which he waved his arms in the air and argued with someone on the phone.  And despite the fact that this IDEAL ME had a hands free, state of the art IPhone and must be racking in the money, he seemed just as desperate as I did.

In fact he never seemed to notice my presence at all so lost in his own world was he.

So I finally decided to pass the “GO GETTER” me and see what lay ahead on this unchartered, ahead of time highway.

There was nothing to report for the next few miles.  Except unfinished shopping centers and ‘Coming Soon” restaurants were now OPEN and finished.

But then I saw another occupant in a vehicle that proved revelatory.

You would never guess who it was.  So I will tell you.

It was none other than my college rival who beat me to the community college job on that fateful, sleeping in day that I forgot to set my clock ahead to daylight savings.

It was Rupert Chapple.  Although he was decades older, I would recognize his pretentious pout anywhere.  And he was clearly rolling in the excesses of success.

His car was a brand new Acura.  He had a designer hair do and wore a specially tailored suit.  His cuff links reflected the sun’s rays and shone brilliantly back at me like diamonds.

“So.  It had come to this.” I thought to myself.  I was finally catching up to the guy who beat me out of my future.

And as I was preparing to roll down my window for a closer look and possible confrontation, I noticed that Chapple’s Acura had signaled a right turn.

He was going to the next exit.

And I was going with him.

What I would say or do I had no clue.

So I followed inconspicuously behind him at the Starbucks so as not to blow my anonymity.

As Rupert Chapple rose out of his deluxe car, my chest was once again filled with the same insecurity and hatred that I had felt all those decades before.

Rupert appeared to be carrying a laptop in his brief case.  “That was so like Rupert” I fumed.

And then I noticed his passenger.  A beautiful FOX NEWS looking blond woman from the back, who, upon seeing the frontal view, was far less attractive due to face lifts and major skin erosion on her face.

“Wait a minute.  I know this lady.”  I took a few seconds to concentrate.

“It was the book store manager’s daughter Elvira!”

Now the picture was fully formed.

Rupert had obviously married Elvira years after becoming a college book store

Tycoon after college.

They were filthy rich.

And I should have been HIM right now!  His lifestyle should be mine!

So I began to stagger incoherently towards this status symbol of a man who had supplanted me in the peak of my youth.  Perhaps I would steal his brief case?  Perhaps I would try to run off with his wife?”  Or maybe I would just throw a wild punch at him and get taken away in a white van?”

But as I got within earshot, another strange revelation shook me out of my private obsession.  Rupert was having a major argument with his wife.

“You never do anything right Rupert!”  “If you had listened to me we could have been internationally famous like your cousin Bart!”

‘Shut up” Rupert hissed back.  “If I hadn’t met you at the community college book store I could have been something!”

What?  My life flashed before me.  Rupert Chapple felt just as riddled with regret as I did.

What kind of script was this?

Was nobody really happy anymore?

It seems that time and efficiency made little difference after all in the overall happiness of these people.

Perhaps I was just fine following the late blooming plan I had been on all along.

So I turned and decided against reuniting with Rupert.

I wished him well in my head.

And I reversed my green, unwashed Honda Element back to where I had come from and went back to resuming my normal, unremarkable speed.

Since then the nightmares have ceased about my supposed ill-fated brush with destiny due to daylights savings.

And now when people greet me in the hallway or on the sidewalk of a shopping center and say that it’s nice to see me, I turn to them very contently—secure in the moment, without a hint of insincerity; and say—“Yes it’s nice to BE seen! Very nice indeed!”




About John Watts

I like to write transcendental community based essays and stories along with photo journalism pieces.
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