Thursday, May 27, 2010

A TCK's experience in America

When I was in 9­­th grade, I had only been living in America for one year. I was still learning various things that the average American child learns at age five. Among them was a foreign concept known as daylight savings time. Daylight savings time is not practiced in the Philippines, the country I had been living in for the past ten years. In fact, all that I knew was that I was supposed to set my watch backwards or forwards at some time during the year

That fall I researched daylight savings time so I would get it right the first time. Since my grandma was watching me while my parents were traveling to Indonesia, it was my responsibility to set the clocks. To supplement my research, I asked my grandma what I was supposed to do for daylight savings time. She taught me the poem for daylight savings which every child knows. It says, “Fall back, spring forward.” This means that in the fall, you set your watch an hour back, and in the spring, you set your watch an hour forward. I really wanted to get this right on the first try. With this in mind I set all of the various clocks in the house, helped my grandma set her watch, and reset the clock in my cellphone. I needed to set my phone as accurately as possible since it is also my alarm clock.

The next day started out like any other school day: my alarm went off, I got dressed, and I went out to the kitchen to eat my breakfast. I found all of the various things that I usually bring to school. I said goodbye to my grandma and headed out to the bus stop.

After I had been waiting at the bus stop for about 15 minutes, I realized that I must have missed the bus. This is not an unknown occurrence for me. I tend to miss the bus since I am somewhat slow in the morning. Walking back to my house, I noticed that my neighbor’s car was in the driveway. This was unusual since his car is usually gone when I head to the bus stop. When I got home, I checked the website of the local paper to see if school had been canceled or something. All was quiet. I asked my grandma if she could drive me to school since I had missed the bus. She agreed and brought me to school. The drive was very uneventful.

When I arrived at my school, I noticed that the halls were empty and wondered where everyone was. I walked into my first period class and saw that my class had already started. It slowly dawned on me that I was late for school; in fact, when I looked at the clock, I saw that I was almost an hour late! The fact that I was almost an hour late made me think that I set my watch in the wrong direction. I knew that people would be ribbing me about that for most of the day.

Mr. Callahan, my homeroom teacher, asked me, “James, where is your pass?”

“Why do I need a pass?” I asked. “Am I late?”

“Yes,” he said. “You’re almost an hour late. I’m curious. Why are you so late today?”

I told him, “Honestly, I don’t know why I am late. I suspect it might have something to do with the way I set my watch for daylight savings.”

Mr. Callahan got an amused look on his face. “James, you set your watch in the right direction, but you got the wrong weekend. Daylight savings time is next week. However, because you are not used to daylight savings, I will not mark you tardy. You still have to sign in at the front office since you’re late.” I thanked him and left for the office.

At the office, I asked the secretary if she could write me a pass. She asked, “Why are you late? I need this information to give you a pass.”

I replied, with a slightly embarrassed look on my face, “As funny as it may sound, I had the wrong weekend for daylight savings time.”

“Honestly,” she said, “I did the same thing. I just got to the office about fifteen minutes ago. Here’s your pass.”

I learned a lesson that day. You should always check the calendar before you change your watch.


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