Time Isn't Time
by Ellis Parker Butler
One of the saddest cases that has come to the notice of the alienists of Bungo County, Ohio, is that of Henry J. Pilgarlic, who is now confined in a padded cell in the Bungo County Insane Asylum.
It seems that for several years the town clock on the city hall of Bungoville, the metropolis of Bungo County, has been out of order. The good people of Bungoville and the surrounding country have taken notice of this and have made allowances for it. They know that when the town clock points to eighteen minutes after four the correct time is seventeen minutes to three and that when the town clock strikes six it is eleven o'clock.
Unfortunately, Mr. Henry J. Pilgarlic, who lives in Bungo County, six miles out of Bungoville, is a hot-tempered man and easily upset. Also, unfortunately, the town of Bungoville has adopted "daylight saving" time, while Bungo County has not. Thus it is sixteen minutes after five in Bungoville when it is sixteen minutes after four in Bungo County. It was also unfortunate for Mr. Pilgarlic that he had to make a trip to Chicago, and that the trains arriving in Bungoville arrived and departed by Standard Time. Thus the three-twenty-seven Chicago train is scheduled to leave Bungoville at four-twenty-seven, Bungoville time.
Last week Mr. Pilgarlic drove into Bungoville from his farm to take the three-twenty-seven train at four-twenty-seven, but as his watch was out of order he mentally adjusted it with the Bungoville town clock. He noticed that the watch marked eighteen minutes to seven just as the town clock marked eighteen minutes after four and he knew the correct time must be seventeen minutes to three which, in railroad time, would be seventeen minutes to two.
Mr. Pilgarlic, knowing all this, began to figure what time the hands of his watch should mark when the three-twenty-seven train left Bungoville at four-twenty-seven. His watch was losing at the rate of two minutes and seven seconds per hour, for which he had to allow.
Mr. Pilgarlic leaned on the counter of Joe Mezzer's grocery store and began to figure on a large sheet of wrapping paper. Ten minutes later a thought came to him and he telephoned to the railway-station and asked about the four-twenty-seven train.
"You mean the three-twenty-seven, don't you?" the stationmaster asked. "Well, the three-twenty-seven is ahead of time and will leave about two-fifty-eight, but she isn't today's three-twenty-seven, she's yesterday's three-twenty-seven. And I don't say she will leave at two-fifty-eight. She's picking up lost time at the rate of eight minutes per hour, and you'd better allow for that, or you may miss her."
So Mr. Pilgarlic went back to the grocery store counter and wet the point of his pencil and began to figure what time to be at the depot by his watch, if the watch lost two minutes and seven seconds per hour and showed eighteen minutes to seven when the town-clock marked eighteen minutes after four, which meant seventeen minutes to three, which was seventeen minutes to two by Standard Time. He wanted to know what time his watch would show when yesterday's three-twenty-seven train arrived at two-fifty-eight, less eight minutes per hour, between now and then.
Mr. Pilgarlic figured, and every now and then he would say "No, that's town time," or "No, that's wrong; that's railroad time," and then he would tear up the sheet of paper angrily and swear and begin again, and -- just when he thought he had the thing worked out correctly -- he discovered that he had added an hour instead of subtracting it; or subtracted it instead of adding it. I don't know which. No one ever does know whether to add that hour or subtract it. Anyway, Mr. Pilgarlic had it the wrong way. He put his hands in his hair and moaned, and just then the town clock struck. It struck eight and then thirteen and then seven and then forty-six, and Mr. Pilgarlic leaped over the counter and bit Joe Mezzer on the calf, and the alienists, when they considered the case, sent him to the insane asylum for life. It is a sad, sad case.