Words of advice from someone whom I believe to be a savvy business traveler. Me. Don’t travel one time zone away from your home station on the weekend that you’re to switch the clocks an hour for Daylight Saving Time. On my last trip to Houston, I experienced a humbling feeling of helplessness on Sunday morning when I couldn’t answer one of the most simple questions we routinely ask ourselves – what time is it? And here’s why.
First, note that when I landed in Houston, well aware that we were to push our clocks ahead at some point during my visit, I made the conscious decision not to change my watch when I landed. Thus I would leave my watch in Eastern Time despite being in Central Time. In essence, my watch was one hour ahead already. This way, I wouldn’t have to change my watch Sunday morning when I woke but instead, once I landed again back in Eastern Time. In essence, I saved myself one watch turn. Tuck this piece of information away for safe keeping.
On Saturday afternoon when I returned to my guest room and before the scheduled time change, I had noticed that my housekeeper had already very proactively adjusted my clock for the next day. This was great, I thought to myself, now I don’t have to worry about doing it myself. I could simply set the alarm for the precise time I wished to rise. And that’s exactly what I did. Seeing as I needed to be in session at 8:00a, I set the clock for 6:45a, since I also needed to pack up my belongings and check out.
What I didn’t realize and what I surely couldn’t know, was that my clock would also automatically spring forward an hour in the middle of the night to account for the time change. Not only couldn’t I know that unless I stayed up all night watching the clock, but I surely couldn’t intuitively deduce that when my alarm rang in the morning, since it very reliably rang the time for which I’d set it, 6:45a. And so I shaved and I showered and then returned to the bedroom. It was still friggin’ dark for what should have been just after 7:00a. Now I expected it to be darker than usual when I awoke – this wasn’t my first Daylight Saving experience – but it seemed peculiarly dark on this morning. And so it aroused my suspicion that perhaps it wasn’t the time I thought it was.
First stop, my cell phone and not my watch since I had left that in Eastern time, or at least yesterday’s version of Eastern time. My cell phone now said 6:07a. Hmmm. Could I trust that? Did it perhaps not adjust? I flipped up my laptop believing that the time on that would remain in Eastern time. It said 7:10a. Okay, but am I sure it adjusted? If it hadn’t, well then it was 7:10a Central time, wasn’t it? Oh man, now what. I know, I can call the hotel operator. Surely she knows the answer to this simple question.
She told me it was just about 6:15a. Surely I could trust her, right? So I probed further with an “Are you sure?” Since she had been there all night and didn’t remember when the computers changed times. Are you kidding me? And so I did what anyone would do next, trust Google. I entered in a question that apparently was a very common question, “What time is it?” and Google returned with a very unfancy, no frills, screen that flashed in a large font, 6:17a, Houston, CDT.
No question I’d be on time this morning. I’d gotten up an hour earlier than I wanted.