Dan Rattiner's Stories

Do Overs: The One Day a Year When You Can Re-Experience an Hour of Your Life

Musings about Daylight Savings.

Late in the middle of the night of Sunday, November 4, I woke up to use the bathroom. I had been dreaming. It was an important dream, but now I couldn’t remember it. What time was it? I tapped the iPhone on my night table awake. It said 1:45 a.m. What seemed important all of a sudden, maybe because of the dream, was to know if it was really 1:45 a.m. or 12:45 a.m. Had we turned all the clocks back by that time? I couldn’t remember. This was the night they did that.

It seemed really important to know the answer to that question. I thought, is there a clock in this house that doesn’t turn itself back automatically? If there were and the time change had already happened, it would be different than my iPhone. I couldn’t think of a one. But then I thought of it. The kitchen stove. I tiptoed downstairs and had a look. 1:46 a.m. Time hadn’t changed. I went back upstairs. What time exactly did the time change? I typed that question into Google. 1:59 a.m. At 1:59 a.m. the clocks return to 12:59 am.

At this point, I had a thrilling thought. Everywhere in America at this hour, people are asleep. They’ll wake up in the morning and the time will be earlier by an hour. But here, if I waited just 14 minutes, I would be able to live one entire hour of my life over. This was fantastic! Why had I never thought of this before?

During the next few minutes, I sat on the edge of the bed, excited. What would I do different from what I had done with this hour the first time? Had I done anything useful during that first hour?

That earlier hour was still ongoing. The first 45 minutes of it I had been asleep, dreaming something I could not remember. That was not very useful. Then, for the next five minutes I had gone to the bathroom, and for the next few minutes after that, still before the change, I had tried to find out what time it was, then did find out and was now sitting here waiting. What a waste of time.

I would not do this again. I would do something useful, maybe even memorable, this time around.

It was now 1:55 a.m. Four minutes to go. For the next few moments, sitting there on my side of the bed, I thought about the movie Groundhog Day. The premise of this movie, starring Bill Murray, is that in this particular Pennsylvania town they have a big event in front of town hall where a real groundhog comes out of this cage, or doesn’t. It’s an exciting event. And people wake up the morning before it and assemble in front of town hall and the mayor makes a big ceremony out of it by counting down the time.

But then the next day, people wake up and repeat that earlier day again, but don’t know they are doing it. They do this three, four and five days. And this goes on and on until Bill Murray, who plays a reporter for a TV news station, wakes up one day and reality is suddenly not in a time warp.

It’s 1:59 a.m. The number has ticked. I am now, monumentally, repeating the hour. What an opportunity. I sit here. I don’t want to wake up my wife. What should I do? I’ll go downstairs. That’s something I didn’t do the earlier time. Downstairs, I go into the kitchen and look at the stove, which is still an hour ahead, and I re-set it.

Now there’s something useful I’ve done during this repeated hour. In the morning, my wife will come downstairs and she won’t have to go to the trouble to re-set the clock.

There’s a grandfather clock in the living room, on the mantle over the fireplace. That needs to be re-set. So I re-set that, too.

Now it is about 1:10 a.m. and the need to go back to sleep comes over me. I could sleep here on the couch. It should be okay. After all, I spent 45 minutes of doing this hour the first time sleeping.

Have I done enough? I think so. I look out the living room window across the deck into the darkness and see the few boats innocently bobbing around in their slips in the harbor here. They are repeating this hour, too, but they don’t know it.

I creep up the stairs, carefully climb back into bed and pull up the covers. I’ve done something useful during this repeat hour. Fixed the stove’s time. Grandfather clock, too. With the job done, I sleep away the next 45 minutes and then remain asleep till dawn.

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