Why we do the things we do…
By Ruth Hasselbrook
October 31, 1999

I am 84 years old. I have worn a smile through wars, depressions, childbirths, disco, and the '80s. I have mended my children's scaped elbows, stroked their bruised egos, and sucked snake venom out of their ankles when their lives were in danger. I have faked more releases than I can count just to keep my husband happy. But last night as my alarm clock rang to life, signaling that it was 2:00am on October 31st, time to get out of bed and set all the clocks in the house back one hour, I have to say I became a little fed up with it all. It wasn't just that I stubbed my toe five or six times while stumbling around the house in the dark, searching for VCR and microwave instruction manuals with a flashlight and fighting with every appliance in my house. I was upset at the senselessness of the things we just do because we feel we're supposed to. Why must we go on and off Daylight Savings Time at 2:00am, for example? Why such an inconvenient time when most decent people are already in bed? I know it only comes twice a year, but still, it ruins my entire night. I can't get back to sleep again for hours, so the extra hour supposedly gained by "falling back" is for naught. The entire next day I'm cross, my toes are swollen, my house is torn apart by my nighttime tantrums, and I end up taking it all out on my rhubarb. For what? One less or one more hour of daylight? Did any woman ever stop to ask herself why we don't just mate and kill like the spiders?

I remember back in 1983, just after my husband died, I came to the decision that the entire concept of Daylight Savings Time was foolish and I wasn't going to bother with "springing ahead" that summer. Well, my protest lasted only a few weeks, mostly because I couldn't for the life of me figure out when my favorite show Simon & Simon was going to be on. I wrote to the network and asked that they broadcast it at both 7:00pm DST and at 8:00pm MT (My Time), but I never heard back. I also got tired of having to get out a slide rule whenever I wanted to know what time the rest of the world thought it was. Worse, I became downright disgusted with the smell husband gave off as he decomposed on the couch. The same night that I finally figured out how to work the phone and call the doctors was the same night that I gave in and turned all my clocks ahead.

On a different topic, why do we have to change our clocks twice a year at 2:00am? I'm tired at 2:00am, it's dark, I can't see all the little buttons on my appliances, and some of my watches haven't worked since the '60s. I really should throw them away, but I just can't get them off my wrist. I've had them on so long that my skin has started to grow over the bands. My granddaughter Amy wants me to see a doctor about it, but I don't trust doctors because they'll put me to sleep and steal my fillings. I saw a negro walk past my driveway the other day. I'm not being prejudiced, but you could tell from his negro skin that he was up to no good.

Sometimes late at night I sit in my rocker with my photo books and look at old pictures of my husband and I together, and I weep softly to myself as I think about how much I miss that show Simon & Simon. Then I catch myself and I try to look on the positive side. At least my husband is dead, I remember.

Life is all about looking on the positive side of things. I can't see very well through my cataracts, but I can see my cataracts very well. My son Rene used to get sad when bullies picked on him because of his name, but I used his tears to flavor my tea. My neighbors get angry when I throw my garbage in their swimming pool, but I'm grateful for the attention.

You haven't lived until you've had a catheter. I used to have to get out of bed three or four times a night to use the water closet, but with a catheter it just goes into a holding tank that my nurse empties in the morning. I would ask her to empty it into my neighbor's swimming pool, but if I open my mouth I'm afraid she'll steal my fillings.

These thoughts I've shared with you today are my own thoughts, not yours, but they might be close to thoughts you've had. I've always felt that the most rewarding part of writing was forgetting what you wrote and then reading it again later and thinking someone else wrote it. That is why, I think, we have Daylight Savings Time.


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