- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 1, 2006

Several hours ago, we all sprang back. No, wait a minute. We sprang forward and maybe a little to the right, in the great ritual known as Daylight-Saving Clock-Changing Time.

That ritual often is accompanied by a phenomenon known as Daylight-Saving Clock-Changing-Time Amnesia. At some point this morning, approximately 20 percent of the population was standing outside church, Target or the International House of Pancakes checking their watches.

“Uh-oh. The door’s locked. Why is the door locked? What time is it?”

It’s that “Uh-oh, I forgot to set the clock ahead” moment, which comes under the same category as the “Uh-oh, I forgot the keys” moment and the “Uh-oh, I left the stove on” moment. There is also a version of it known as the “Uh-oh, I forgot to set the clock back” moment.

Even the dog has such interludes, like the “Uh-oh, I forgot to ask to go out” moment, or the “Uh-oh, they’re leaving without me” moment.

Cats have no such moments.

Meanwhile, all of us here at the Tick-Tock Cafe & Old Cheese Emporium would like to wish the entire state of Indiana luck in the next few hours. The Hoosiers will observe daylight-saving time today for the first time in their history, after resisting the idea for decades on the grounds that they are Hoosiers, and so there.

But of course, the entire nation will need some sympathy 343 days from now, when we will be springing and falling all over the place. Just as all of us were getting cozy with our clock-winding schedule, the Energy Policy Act has decreed that next year, daylight-saving time will begin March 11 and last until Nov. 4 — a four-week extension. Upon passage of the act in 2005, the two lawmakers who proposed it soared to philosophical heights:

“Kids across the nation will soon rejoice with the extended daylight on Halloween night,” observed Rep. Fred Upton, Michigan Republican, at the time.

“It just makes everyone feel sunnier,” said Rep. Ed Markey, Massachusetts Democrat.

Aw, Fred. And Ed — why, we feel so much sunnier here at the Tick-Tock Cafe & Old Cheese Emporium, though the act did not sit as well with the Air Transport Association of America and the National PTA, which warned that the change would disrupt overseas travel and force children to go to school in the dark.

Daylight-saving time — and it’s “saving,” not “savings,” according to a stern directive from one research group — also has attracted the attention of the National Sleep Foundation. The Virginia-based group advises folks to “sleep a bit more than usual a few nights prior and immediately following the time change to help reduce any sleep debt.”

Yes, well, that can be arranged. We’ll be setting up cots to reduce our sleep debt momentarily.

And what about everybody who is running really late today, having lost an hour? For starters, there may be a riot at our salad bar during the Early Bird Special, particularly near the shrimp platter, so be advised.

In addition, it is time to discover that dawdling, tarrying, lagging and loitering could be a sign of neuroses.

What? Heavens. Who knew? Some psychologists say it’s a form of “resistance” behavior.

“Being late can also be an unconscious way of expressing anger at being controlled,” points out therapist Margaret Paul. “Sometimes people are late because they don’t care about keeping others waiting. They have a sense of entitlement about time — they seem to get some sort of secret pleasure at keeping people waiting.”

Some like to appear rushed and anxious-looking on purpose, she adds, advising folks to “become aware of the issues with compassion toward yourself” and stop being a rebellious child.

Yes, well. Someone needs to notify a bunch of bosses; 60 percent of them are habitually late to staff meetings, according to TEC, a California-based management consultant group. Someone also needs to tell former President Bill Clinton, actors Robert Redford and Richard Gere, plus model Naomi Campbell, who are among the famously tardy.

But then, 20 percent of the population also runs late, according to a San Francisco State University study and researcher Diana DeLonzor, author of the new book “Never Be Late Again: 7 Cures for the Punctually Challenged.”

Some of these late-niks are just plain egotistical, some are thrill seekers, after the adrenaline rush a last-minute sprint to one thing or another provides. Miss DeLonzor proposes that victims of tardy people issue lateness citations from “The National Department of Punctuality and Attendance,” and offers two versions — one polite and one not-so-polite — at her Web site (www.neverbelateagain.com).

This makes perfect sense to all of us here at the Tick-Tock Cafe & Old Cheese Emporium, where we are considering opening a branch of the National Department of Punctuality and Attendance near our hostess desk.

Please be advised that in honor of daylight-saving time, our salad bar will open one hour early today.

Jennifer Harper covers media, politics and accurate timepieces for The Washington Times’ national desk. Reach her at 202/636-3085 or jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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