Daylight Savings Time comes to an end each year at 2:00 A.M. on the second Sunday in March. This means that this Sunday morning most US citizens will need to set their clocks forward one hour. For no discernible reason this is not the case in Arizona and Hawaii as they have decided not to observe Daylight Saving Time. To be fair, Arizona and Hawaii have noted that the other forty-eight states adopted Daylight Saving Time for no discernible reason.
There have been a number of studies on the impact of DST on our biological clocks. It has only been recently that researchers have begun to study some of the adaptations that are caused as people spring forward only to fall back later each year. The most significant study to date has been covered in a paper entitled, “Am I Late Again?” by Dr. R. Langdon. Professor Langdon is best known for his work on the practices of naming and conversing with inanimate objects. As a result of his investigations, he single-handedly created the field of Cultural Anthropomorphology.
At a recent seminar, Professor Langdon discussed the origins of his latest study. He said, “It is inevitable. Despite numerous reminders on calendars, TV and radio, many people will forget to set their clocks forward this Saturday night. The result can be a problem for those who attend Sunday morning services. After rushing to get the kids out of bed and into clothes, these families drive frantically to church. Once there they find that as they are walking into church they are met by people leaving the service that started an hour ago. We know from earlier studies that few parents are willing to admit that they made a mistake. Rather than driving home they pretend that the plan all along was for the family to go out for breakfast.
He then continued, “If you multiply this action across millions of families you can see why restaurants like Denny’s, IHOP and Waffle House are swamped on the second Sunday of March each year. You would be surprised to learn that the phenomenon has received little study. I was introduced to the effect when I happened to be visiting my parent’s house last year at the start of March. Even though I am middle-aged myself, my mother woke me to a rousing verse of ‘This is the Day’. When that failed to get me out of bed, my father followed up with his ‘as for me and my house … we go to church’ speech. After everyone had their shoes on, we piled into the sedan. When he saw the church parking lot beginning to empty my father did just what I now recalled from my childhood. He drove straight to IHOP for what he called a ‘special family breakfast’. As I enjoyed my Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes, I began to record the observations which became the core of this paper.”
Like many cultural practices there is an economic impact as well. Retailers look forward to the opportunity of Black Friday so they can clear out old inventory and bring in new money. In the case of restaurants that serve breakfast, the second Sunday in March is a day for increased profits. Most need to add extra staff to handle the rush of hungry, and by now, wide-awake families.
A Denny’s manager we interviewed felt guilty about making all of her staff work on this day. She commented that she “knew they all wanted to be with their families and getting to church late like everyone else.” However, she felt she had no choice since even with a full staff the line would be out the door.
One of the waiters preparing for Sunday morning did note that there was an upside. He happily shared that, “Tips are bigger on that morning. I guess guilt is a great motivator.”
Similar comments were shared by several pastors we interviewed. One said “First of all, it takes the pressure off to deliver your best sermon when the church is half full. Some years I even dust off an old sermon since there is no reason to use my best material when the sanctuary is almost empty.”
Another said, “We know offerings will be low this week but we will more than make up for it next week when everyone returns. They won’t look me in the eye that Sunday but they will be generous when the plate goes around. I guess guilt is a great motivator.”
Although he declined an interview, a representative of the Seventh Day Adventist church denied that his denomination’s decision to worship on Saturday was influenced by the timing of Daylight Saving Time.