Tuesday, September 21, 2010

1900 hours

I helped coordinate a film screening at work tonight, and my first stop was at the security desk to request that the room be unlocked and to sign out the audio visual equipment. The security guard handed me the sign-out sheet, on which I neatly printed my name, phone number and the time of sign-out (7:05 p.m.)

"Oh, you're one of those people," he said with disdain, crossing out "7:05" and printing "1905."

"Oh. I see. You use military time," I responded politely (although truth be told the use of the 24-hour clock irritates me greatly).

"It is NOT military time," he said, clearly annoyed. "People always call it military time. The 24-hour clock was around long before the military ever started using it! I don't know why people call it military time!"

"Well, the military use it," I responded, perhaps defensively.

"Well it's NOT military time," he said again.

"I don't use the 24-hour clock," I said, unwilling to let it go. "I don't like subtracting 12 to figure out what time it is."

He handed me the AV equipment without further comment, neither of us willing to give up our respective time alliances.

I'm not sure why I feel so strongly opposed to the 24-hour clock, but I do. It seems too formal for everyday life. I've yet to hear a friend ask me to meet them at 1600 hours, and if one did, I'd wonder if I should wear a disguise.

To me, the 24-hour clock is reserved for a world of formalities - a world where order is the ultimate goal and hierarchy reigns. It's just not me. I'm more of an "order and chaos in equal measure kind of gal" (give or take - sometimes chaos wins out). And while the 24-hour clock is suited to some settings (like the military, for example), it just doesn't cut it for the day-to-day me.

The next time I need to sign out AV equipment, I'll tow the line and write down the 24-hour time (although I can't guarantee I won't twitch while doing it). I won't even mention the military. But secretly, I'll be peeking at my watch to see what time it is in the real world.


  1. The disguise bit kills me as does your description of where a 24-hour clock should be used - sounds like a hospital! M