B ack in the days when I worked for a living, the concept of Daylight Savings Time posed an unusual challenge twice a year at the Golden Gate Bridge. Think beyond the idea of sleeping in for an extra hour, or getting up 60 minutes earlier than the day before. Think about your clocks.
Did you reset yours last night before you went to bed, or are you doing it during the day today? Alarm clocks, kitchen clocks, wall clocks, mantle clocks, wristwatches; Clocks on thermostats, microwave ovens, stoves, dashboards—OMG, the car(s)—and time clocks for sprinklers.
At the Golden Gate Bridge District offices we had all of the above clocks and more (over 50). Guess who got to reset all of the clocks twice a year? That’s right, the Electric Shop.
Every Fall and Spring the Swing shift electrician would spend a few hours going into every office and shop with a ladder and adjusting the time ahead or behind by one hour. Once a year all of the batteries in all of the clocks would be replaced. Experience taught us that a AA battery lasted just over a year in a clock and that it was easier to replace all of them at once, rather than onesy-twosy-at-a-time over the course of several months.
The Graveyard shift electrician had the most important clock to adjust, the one on top of the Toll Plaza roof canopy. This clock is a double-sided beast that is eight feet in diameter with lighted numerals on each side. A drive shaft syncs the motor-driven clock hands on one face to the hands on the opposite side.
The procedure in the Spring is for the electrician to turn off the neon-lighted numerals and advance the time on the clock by one hour. This is accomplished at 01:58 in the morning by using a small control panel on the side of the clock. At 02:00, the neon-lighted numerals are turned on and the Toll Plaza is in sync with the rest of the country. Spring Forward!
The procedure in the Fall is even easier. Rather than advancing the time on the clock by 23 hours, the electrician just turns off the lights on the clock and shuts off the power to the clock motor at 01:00. An hour later he returns to power up the clock and the neon lights. Fall Back!
I don’t miss this former part of my life one bit, but I have to be honest: Day or night, the view at work was fantastic.