The Winter Solstice is just a few days away now. Soon the days will start getting longer, although it’ll be imperceptible at first, just like the loss of light that starts in June as gravity spins us around the sun at a 23 degree angle. As a kid I had a window that faced west and I remember watching the sunset move from a low range of hills miles away to a closer stand of trees and I understood that grownups were, if not dishonest, at least oversimplifying a lot when they told me the sun always set in the west. West is a very specific direction, as I knew from my pocket compass, and just as the time of sunset each day changed slightly so too did the position of the sun.
Time is very much on my mind right now because the year is rushing to its end and soon I’ll be able to take a break from work. For some reason I didn’t think about this until I was driving in this morning, the sun only just starting to come up, invisible from the road but lightening the sky, but I need to fill in my timesheet for the holidays. I’m an hourly employee, putting in the standard forty hour week, usually working longer days from Monday to Thursday so I can clock out early on Friday with a full-throated Fred Flintstone “Yabba dabba doo!”
Time off always throws a little confusion into things because, since I’ve been working from home, it’s really easy to lose track of days—not that I’ve ever made the mistake of signing into work while on vacation. I’ve just had to stop and remind myself occasionally when I need to go back, and the time seems to slip away so quickly. The timesheet system we use requires me to make up times when I’m not working. I can’t just say “Monday, Time off-8 hours” but I have to put in actual times. Usually I go for an aspirational 8am to 4pm, although just for fun I can stick in an hour for lunch from noon to one and say I didn’t work until five. Or I could say I didn’t work from 4am until noon. The exact times don’t really matter but I have to record that I didn’t work eight hours a day, totaling forty hours each week, including the holidays when everyone is out but which still have to be tabulated anyway.
I’m pretty sure the system was designed by a grownup who still thinks the sun always sets in the west.