Trying Cases in Other Time Zones

In New York, my typical wake up comes at about 5:00 am.  Apparently, the gene that might have made my forebearers good farmers was so well-developed that it has stayed with me well past its usefulness.  I enjoy having a couple of hours of quiet before the rest of the world turns on the coffee pot, and find it a very productive time.  But that’s me.

The rest of the world, by and large, disagrees.  I’m used to that.  As I awoke in Los Angeles this morning at my usual hour, it was slightly earlier in California time.  Los Angeles is not like New York.  New York is the City that Never Sleeps.  Los Angeles is the City that Sleeps Late.  Try to get a cup of coffee in LA at 3 am.  Ha!  Silly New Yorker.

But this isn’t just a little coffee issue when you travel around the country for work.  I tried a few cases in Anchorage, Alaska a while back, and learned just how bizarre this can turn out to be.  Imagine, waking up at 2 am local time and sitting in the Capt. Cook Hotel waiting for room service to open for the day.  Still four hours off. 

Imagine finishing up cross-examination at 5:00 local time, and being ready to go to sleep for the night.  Everyone else wants to go out for dinner and drinks, and all you can think about is climbing into the sack.  After all, it’s 10:00 pm according to your head.  You ate breakfast and lunch before the courtroom ever opened, and dinner was the burger you had during the lunch break. 

There’s a reason that a typical trial day ends at 5 pm.  That’s about as far as a mind can get while still retaining the level of acuity needed to make an FBI agent cry during cross.  When their 5 is your 10, the mind is only good enough for the final of a reality show or maybe a melodrama best suited for teenagers.  Even a decent mind has its limits.

I awoke this morning to a Los Angeles that was still fast asleep.  There was no coffee to be had.  There was no one to beg for coffee.  At least I could get the people at the Capt. Cook Hotel to bring me coffee at 2:00 am.  Next time I come to LA, I’m going to find a Motel 6 with an all night coffee pot.

3 comments on “Trying Cases in Other Time Zones

  1. John Neff

    I had to switch from a day schedule to a night schedule and back again when I would go to an observatory (this was before the was remote observing by computer). I found it worked best for me to skip a unit of sleep at both ends (you are so tired you fall asleep no matter what the time of day is). When I was on an trip to New Zealand the trip leaders used the same tactics.

    Your problem is more difficult because it a five or six hour change instead of a 12 hour change. I have heard that the direction of the time shift also matters and my experience suggests that may be the case because it has always been easier for me to transition back to a day schedule.

    This must be a common problem for business travelers and my guess is that there are tactics that may help with making the transition.

  2. SHG

    I have a buddy who was CEO of a British Telecom while his family lived in the US.  He ran back and forth constantly, and I never understood how he functioned.  His “solution” was to take naps whenever possible, and avoid actually sleeping at night so that his circadian rhythm was never established.  I tried it.  It lasted about an hour, and then I fell asleep.  I’ve now decided that my buddy was a freak of nature.

  3. Windypundit

    I’ve always had a late-peaking circadian rhythm, which means having to deal with annoying people who think getting up early makes them morally superior.

    Now that I work from home, I can keep my own hours. A couple of times over the last few years I’ve been in danger of becoming completely unmoored from the clock, working and sleeping whenever the mood hit me. It doesn’t really bother me, but it makes it hard to schedule stuff with my wife on the weekends.

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