Losing that precious hour each year

Probably most of us can recall horror stories of episodes when we actually, or nearly, missed that dreaded time-change. This month daylight saving time seemed to sneak up on us earlier than usual. It’s still winter. Wasn’t DST first established so farmers could get their crops to market earlier on summer mornings?

One spring day in 2012, I received an unexpected email from a man in Great Britain. It said he had read something I wrote, and wanted to interview me on an hour-long radio program he hosted.

It originates from in the U.K., he added, but we can do the show Monday by telephone connection. I’m providing a New York City number you can dial. Please ring me at this number about five or ten minutes before the broadcast starts, which is 8 p.m. GMT, (Greenwich Mean Time,) Email me if you have any questions.

The program airs in the U.K., I wrote back, but I’ll be calling a NYC number using a start time of 8 GMT. New York is on Eastern Daylight Savings Time right now; does GMT factor in that extra hour’s difference?

I’m not  sure about that, he replied. Best to check with your Producer. (Oh, yeah, like I have a Producer; doesn’t everybody?)

I phoned someone at a Library Reference Desk who switched me to Portland. I explained my situation, and asked if GMT also uses Daylight Savings Time. The Librarian researched it. “8 p.m. GMT would equate to eight hours earlier here,” she said. “They also use Daylight Saving seasonal changes there, so you can make your call just before 12 noon.”

The day of the broadcast, I had doubts about the well-meaning librarian’s advice. A tiny piece to this puzzle didn’t fit. Why wouldn’t this radio host in England have known for certain whether GMT became an hour earlier every spring? Maybe I’d risk making a fool of myself, but I’d call him a few minutes before 11 a.m. instead of noon.

The confident host had posted my Facebook photo on his Network’s internet pages and on his program’s website. He’d included  glowing information about my impending hour-long appearance, and urged his listeners to phone-in live, and ask me questions on the air.

“Florence, is that you? Oh, thank God,” he said when he answered his phone. I was getting worried. We’re just a few minutes before air time. I don’t know how I would have filled the program’s entire hour if your call hadn’t reached me by now.”

Sometimes we have to trust our seemingly illogical hunches. This was one situation in which everyone would’ve gotten it wrong, yet  no one had gotten it quite right, either. The Researcher had correctly determined that GMT did involve turning clocks ahead during summertime for extending daylight. The operative word here  was “summertime.” Their annual hour loss takes place later in the calendar year than U.S. or Canada’s do.

Frankly, I think letting everyone sleep for that extra hour on permanent standard time would be far less confusing.

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