Work should be over when it gets dark

The sun sets at 3:45 p.m. and yet we remain at our offices. Why?

Sometimes it feels nice to hear something true, regardless of whether it effects any change. Like when your landlord says, “Yep, the heat is broken.” Or when a friend is like, “Damn, that sucks.” Or when the facialist is like, “Yeah … I see what you mean.” Or when I’m like,


Yes? Of course, I say this as someone who has a salaried job with flexible hours and, of course, I would love to not be fired, ha-ha, and of course I will work forever in darkness and it would be my pleasure! However, as (again) someone who has a job, my job demands I speak the truth. And the truth is: At around 3:45 p.m. every winter day it gets bye-bye outside, too dark for seeing and most important — TOO DARK FOR WORK!

For eons, man has slept when it’s dark. (Please nod.) Indeed, the animals close their eyes and go beddy when the sun sinks, save for the Panamanian night monkey and others. We know darkness releases melatonin in our brains, which reminds us of one of our favorite Radiohead b-sides. And yet during “Standard” time in the winter, the sun sets and we remain at our offices, in our business costumes, asking Tim if he can get us that report by EOD. Why? Just because it’s the way it has always been done? Just because we “have” to work until the “end of the day” because it’s what “Bruce Springsteen’s dad did”?

We need to confront our baked-in notions of when work ends and consider that maybe, just maybe, work should end once daytime is too sleepy, disappearing into unconscious darkness, replaced all at once: WITH NIGHT!

Of course, we wonder: If you work in a nine-to-five or eight-to-six sort of scenario, does this mean you’ll have to start work earlier? Well. Yeah, probably. But between you and me, I’m not sure a lot is going to get done in that extra morning hour. At least not until the workforce adjusts to the new schedule, and likely by then everyone reading this will be dead. Mostly it’ll be drinking coffee and chatting about how weird it is that you have to be at work so early. Some people showing up at the old time and being like, “Argh! I keep forgetting!” Some nerds actually doing work but it’s like, they were probably already doing work an hour early every day, let’s be honest.

If you have a job that requires you to work outside of the nine-to-five template I’ve used here as an example out of argumentative ease, well. I’m sorry for not getting to your situation until this point — I am very selfish and this, like all writing from writers, is mainly about me — and I’m sure something can be done to make it so you, too, get the wintertime work-schedule adjustment you deserve. Maybe it becomes bright too early for you now? In that case you can write a screed and deliver it to your employer. It can be called, “Once It Gets Bright, Work Should Be Over.” Or if that doesn’t apply, maybe something like, “The Overall Increase in Darkness During What Is Presently Known As ‘Daytime’ Has Just Pretty Much Thrown Me Off in General; Something Needs to Be Done Re: My Work Hours.”

(There are likely some out there curious about whether the winter schedule adjustment entitles them to have their employees work longer hours in the summer. It does not.)

“Isn’t what you’re saying like what farmers do, or whatever?” you might be wondering. Well. I don’t know exactly what you mean, but I don’t think so, and I want you to know that you sound fairly ignorant and a bit elitist. Farmers work more than just sun-up to sun-down, I assure you. But I guess I see what you’re saying, sort of, and this idea is kind of like what is at least a myth about farmers. So, yes.

It is ridiculous that it starts to be night at 3:45 p.m. every day, yes, but it is even more ridiculous that we have to pretend it doesn’t. Going on about our “days,” like fools. Aliens watching us going like, “What?” No. Once it is night, it is night. It’s time to go home to our dogs. It’s time to have dinner. It’s time to read a book (watch TV). It’s time to sleep in our beds. And it’s definitely not time to: KEEP WORKING AT THE “OFFICE” OR WHEREVER YOU WORK!!!!!!

Kelly Conaboy is a writer-at-large at New York Magazine.