Real Time

Time is my master. I’m a slave to the clock and my calendar. Whether I go to work or get the day off, my schedule is full from the time I get up until I go to bed. The time change twice a year totally rocks my world.

Smartphones, computer displays, and cable boxes are arbiters of the correct time nowadays. They spring forward and fall back automatically, and synchronize with millions of devices all over the world. I wonder about the impact of this massive time sync on society.

For hundreds of years, clocks were set by the location of the sun in the sky. Before the advent of instant mass communication and transportation options faster than a horse, differences from one town to the next weren’t noticeable and didn’t much matter. Train schedules provided the impetus for standardized time within specific zones.

For most of my life, nobody ever really knew what time it was. The EXACT time was something of a mystery. Clocks on the kitchen stove, bedside table, and fireplace mantel all said something different. VCRs and other electronic devices flashed 12:00, and were at least right twice a day. Calling  Time of Day (or later, Time and Temperature) was the only way to know for sure.

Back in the day, people set clocks or watches forward five minutes or more to make sure they got where they needed to be on time. Better to arrive a bit early than late. A little leeway allowed for varying opinions of the correct time. “I’m sorry, my watch is slow” was a common excuse for tardiness that, thanks to the ubiquitous smartphone, no longer holds water.

I suspect this synchronization of time has increased the likelihood of being late for those who used to set their watches forward. Thou shalt not mess with the time on most devices. It is what it is. In the age of technology, people who need a timepiece to lie by twenty or thirty minutes are screwed.

The problem, really, is the damn time change. Nobody likes all that springing forward and falling back, but changing it would take an act of Congress, and well — you know how likely that is. Writing grumpy blog posts twice a year will just have to do.