Is time on our side? Clocks will tell

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 19, 2000

I knew it was trouble when my 73-year-old father volunteered to set the clock on the boys’ VCR. It had only been blinking &uot;12:00&uot; for a couple of months … and I’d kind of gotten used to it.

&uot;There’s no excuse,&uot; he said. &uot;It only takes a couple of minutes.&uot;

And so he did it … after months of ignoring the blinking blue-green numbers, he set the time –&160;for all to see.

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&uot;It’s seven-oh-eight,&uot; Thomas quickly announced. &uot;Nope. Now it’s seven-oh-nine.&uot;

Of course, my father then had to set the clock on the other VCR, the microwave … and, well, you get the picture.

Within 15 minutes you couldn’t walk through a room in our home without being reminded just what time it is.

I offered thanks, even as I secretly wished for a timely power outage to zap those pesky clocks once again.

&uot;You really need to keep these things set,&uot; my dad said sternly, ignoring the voice from above (actually upstairs) continuing its regular updates: &uot;It’s seven-two-eight … I mean seven-twenty-eight.&uot;

Knowing the exact time — and being able to watch it tick away — is not necessarily reassuring when you’ve overslept and everyone is running 20 minutes late for school in the morning; or when it’s nearly midnight and you’re still doing laundry; or when you look up after turning on the television only to realize you’ve spent more than an hour mindlessly surfing channels; or when your eldest son feels compelled to announce the time change every 60 seconds.

Those concerns, of course, were lost on the man who’s convinced that time is a commodity … and we should always be cognizant of it. If we don’t, &uot;you’ll end up wasting time,&uot; he says.

But I suspect those issues are not lost on the &uot;average American&uot; who, according to a poll that recently crossed my desk, will have to set seven clocks come Oct. 29, when Daylight Savings Time ends.

According to Maritz Marketing Research, which bills itself as one of the world’s largest marketing research firms, &uot;the number of clocks one has to change seems to vary with age. Younger and older (people) change fewer clocks.&uot;

But folks in the 45-54 age group change the most — an average of eight clocks.

The breakdown by age and number of clocks is as follows:

— 18 to 24 years, six clocks

— 25 to 34 years, seven clocks

— 35 to 44 years, seven clocks

— 45 to 54 years, eight clocks

— 55 to 64 years, seven clocks:

— and 65+, six clocks.

A little math reveals that our house is above average — even if you don’t count the computers which are supposed to reset themselves — an unenviable honor, I suppose.

And, those intrepid researchers also discovered also discovered that the number of pesky clocks to reset is tied to income levels, as well. People who earn less than $15,000 per year have only an average of five clocks to reset; those earning above $55,000 have eight clocks to reset. Folks in between average five and six clocks, on either side of a $25,000-a-year income divide.

Moreover, the folks at Maritz revealed a not-so-surprising secret: some 51 percent of the folks surveyed admit they really like Daylight Savings Time (that &uot;spring forward&uot; thing that gives us more daylight in evenings) and only 29 percent of the respondents said they don’t like it.

None of this is terribly surprising (a bit humorous, perhaps, when you actually stop to count all the clocks around you).

So what does it really mean?

Simply that the folks at Maritz Marketing Research just might have a little too much time on their hands …

And, for the rest of us, evidence of our compulsion with &uot;time&uot; is all around us.

Stacy Graning is editor of The Democrat. She can be reached at 445-3539 or via e-mail at