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The Berlin Perspective: What in the Hell is the Time?

An earlier version of this piece was previously published under a different title.

We are humans living in the 21st century. We work like crazy. We have appointments and business meetings. What do we look at all the time? The clock, the watch, or the smart phone. We do so for one reason: It’s all about time. We depend on it, we build our miserable lives around it, and there is one question we always need answered: What in the hell is the time?

We just need to know, because it tells us when to eat, when to sleep, even when to go to the bathroom. It tells us when we need to enter data into clouds, write our next useless Powerpoint presentation, when we need to walk the dog, feed the baby, have the car checked, take the kids to the private math teacher and when to take a nap, in order to forget about time for a few hours.

There is one single thing on Earth which makes us nervous: It’s when we do not know the answer to the big question, thanks to the daylight saving time and the mess it creates. Nobody ever understands which way to turn the damned clock. Is it forward or backward? Will we sleep less or more when daylight saving time is being dumped, or when it comes back?

It gets worse: Our family members, friends or business partners in a country called the United States of America do not switch times back and forth on the same day we, the weird Europeans, do. This means we might call them at 6:00 a.m. in the morning, before breakfast, while they are brushing their dentures. Or, even worse, they might call us late at night, while we are just about to switch off ‘Bridge of Spies’, after the Supreme Court scene, and finally fall asleep.

So, as we all know Europe is getting ready to throw those constant time changes overboard. But it will take some ‘time’, since there are complications, as always.

The individual countries decide whether they will constantly live in summer or winter time. This means if there is no consensus within the E.U., the mess might be even bigger once time changes are being scrapped in 2021. In theory, it might be 2 p.m. in The Netherlands, 3 p.m. in Germany, 2 p.m. in Czechia and 3 p.m. in Slovakia.

In case you missed it: The next time change to summer time or daylight saving time will take place a soon as tonight, at 2 a.m.. At that moment, the time will be set forward by an hour (yes, 2 plus 1 equals 3). This applies to the European Union, which by the way has three time zones. Bulgaria and Romania are always one hour ahead. The Brits are an hour behind.

So, let’s look at more facts around the daylight saving mess:

What do Americans have to do on the morning of March 31st, 2019?

Nothing. They can just eat their hot cakes for breakfast and go back to bed. That is because they will already have switched to daylight saving time on March 10th, 2019, three weeks earlier.

What should residents in Hawaii and Arizona do on March 31st?

Go surfing and look after their cattle. They don’t have to turn clocks like the rest of us, because they chose not to take part in this whole mess. The only exception is Navajo Nation, located in Arizona.

What do Europeans do on March 31st?

We should just sleep. The fact of the matter is that our cell phones and computers will change to daylight saving time automatically (unless you have a 20-year-old PC with Windows 3.1). It’s only that ugly and dusty Ikea kitchen clock which has to be set accordingly. But that can wait until later on Sunday morning. Take our word for it.

What do Latin Americans, Asians, Africans and Australians do?

The Australians have a complicated scheme in some provinces. We won’t even get into it. Asian countries don’t take part, since they are smart. The same applies to African countries. In Latin America, many countries do not have daylight saving time either. In countries like Brazil or Mexico, some states or provinces do, while others do not, meaning they have their own mess.

When does the damned daylight saving time start in Europe, and when does it finally end?

It starts tonight, on March 31st, 2019 at 2:00 a.m. and ends on Sunday, October 27th, 2019.

Were you planning to say what way the time on our kitchen clocks should be changed, or is this question not important enough?

On March 31st, in the morning, set all clocks and watches one hour forward. This means we will sleep less, in theory. On October 27th, set those clocks and watches one hour backward.

Why in the hell do we have daylight saving time in the first place?

In order to save daylight time. We tried saving daylight time in bags. It did not work.

Why is there never enough time?

We do not know.

What was the question again?

We forgot. To hell with all of this.