Time Zoned Out


Last Sunday after I poured myself a cup of coffee, I sat down to wait for the drugs to take effect.

I remembered we were supposed to set the clocks ahead one hour last night to adjust for daylight savings time, which officially changed at three AM.

For no real reason other than synchronicity, I suddenly imagined a test question not unlike many we have struggled with over the years, except that it tests a different sort of knowledge than SAT’s or ASVAB’s.

Although the math is elementary, it is a very tricky question (unless you have ever lived in Terre Haute, for instance).

For what it is worth, here is the conundrum:

A man who lives in Terre Haute, Indiana decides to travel to Chicago for the weekend.

He leaves at five PM Eastern Standard time.

The trip from door to door takes approximately four hours. His watch reads Friday, nine PM when he arrives.

Because the “Illiana’” border is the dividing line between the Eastern and Central time zones, he notices that local time is an hour earlier than his watch indicates.

Because he will be there all weekend, he decides to set his watch to Central Standard time.

On Saturday, at eleven o’clock PM Central Standard time, he departs Chicago to go back to Terre Haute.

After the crosses the border, he remembers to re-set his watch ahead one hour to adjust back to Eastern Standard time.

On the way home he listens to WGN, Chicago.

At three AM Central Standard time, the announcer reminds his listeners to set their clocks ahead one hour, as this is the official  time for changes from Standard to Daylight savings.

When he left Terre Haute on Friday, he was on Eastern Standard time.

When he arrived in Chicago, he adjusted his watch back one hour to adjust for Central Standard time.

On the way home, at approximately one AM Central Standard time, he remembered to set his watch ahead one hour to adjust back to Eastern Standard time, but two hours later, he was reminded to adjust his time ahead one hour to adjust for Daylight Savings time, which he does.

(This is were it starts to get tricky.)

When he arrives back in Terre Haute, his watch now reads five AM.

He stops to get breakfast at a truck stop just off Highway 41, and discovers that the clock above the grill reads four AM.

He assumes that the establishment has just neglected to set the clock to adjust for Daylight Savings time, but he is wrong; the official time in Terre Haute is in fact four AM.

The announcer in Chicago correctly announced at three AM Central time to adjust for Daylight Savings.

Granted, at three AM Central Standard time, it was in fact two AM Eastern Standard time, but that factor would not affect the eventual outcome of the time in either zone.

(After all, most people set their clocks ahead  an hour before they go to bed, but even if you waited until you got up, the worst thing that would happen might be that you missed church, which may be why they do it on Sunday.)

This is what we know:

The return trip took four hours, just like it did on Friday.

He had correctly remembered to re-set his watch ahead one hour shortly after he re-entered the Eastern time zone, and later followed the radio announcer’s correct instructions to move the time ahead an hour to adjust for Daylight Savings time.

Why was he wrong?

What was his error?

What is that awful smell?

Now I realize that it is highly unlikely that even one hundred people might read this post, but if you just did, and can figure out this problem, please respond.




Chazz Vincent


5 Responses to “Time Zoned Out”

  1. Indiana doesn’t follow daylight savings time. They never change their clocks.

    • …And rarely change their minds.
      Very good! Was it that obvious?
      (I’m not that surprised that you were the first to figure it out , btw…in fact, I sort of expected it.)
      …”Most areas of the United States observe daylight saving time (DST), the exceptions being Arizona (except for the Navajo, who do observe daylight saving time on tribal lands), Hawaii, and the overseas territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands.” (sez the Oracle of Wikki)…I thought Alaska might also have opted-out.
      So what about that awful smell? 😉

      • Gawd, the SMELL.

        That awful smell is Gary, Indiana. Which I’m sure you well know.

        I’m not certain about Alaska. When I’ve been there, the time has been different I believe. I was too busy exploring to worry about whether the time difference was zone-related or due to DST.

        :: clicks away to ask Google ::

      • The awful smell is a combination of the Wabash Fiber Box Company and a Creosote treatment plant on the outskirts of Terre Haute.
        My main impression of Gary was from years ago, when I drove through there on our way to Chicago.
        It was dusk, and I was beginning to peak on some particularly strong acid I had taken about forty minutes before.
        I remember saying “this looks like the land that God forgot…as my mind wandered to Hieronymus Bosch; the upper far right panel of the triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights, the Last Judgement.
        I spent a total of seven years in the Wabash Valley. Some of it was amazing…I feel sorry for anyone who can’t find something good wherever they go, but Indiana taxed those aspirations severely.
        Google says Alaska does, but I just thought that with six months of daylight for even part of a year, that would be enough.
        They have a term for a sort of seasonal affectation of mania during the sunlight that especially affects newcomers.
        At any rate thanks for the reply; at least someone is reading these things.
        The DST thing is a rather obscure fact.
        Did you ever live in the Region?

      • I was born and raised in the eastern midwest, and have been to (and through) Chicago a few times. So I’m fairly familiar with the area.

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