The alarm clock in our bedroom is nine minutes fast. The reason for this is that the interval time in between snooze bar hits is nine minutes, so if the alarm goes off at 6:00 am, I can hit the snooze bar with the comforting feeling that it's REALLY only 5:51 am, so I have plenty of time for another dream in which I win the World Series with a walk-off home run, defeating some random team that features my cousin John and Nelson Mandela. The thing is, I usually set the alarm for 5:00 am, so the hour or so before I have to get up for work is spent like this: "Yes - I can still sleep! Yes - I can still sleep! Yes - I can still sleep! Yes - I can still sleep! Yes - I can still sleep! Yes - I can still sleep! Yes - I can still sleep! Yes - I can still sleep! What?! It's 6:03 already? Crap - I have to get up. I hate (fill in the day of the week)!"
From this point, I hop into my truck (not immediately - I usually get dressed first...usually) where THAT clock is seven minutes fast. I don't know exactly why I chose seven minutes, but it seems to work, because I am never less than an hour and a half early to my place of employment. When I get to work, I try and figure out how many more times I could have hit the snooze bar and still have made it on time. Then I turn on the copy machine, and spend the rest of the day humming the theme song to "Titanic," or whatever other crappy song was playing on the radio at 6:03, which was really 5:54.
My wife is more consistent. The clock in her car in nine minutes fast, directly corresponding to the alarm clock, which basically means that my wife is always nine minutes ahead of everybody else on planet earth. On New Years Eve, she is kissing everyone and downing champagne before Dick Clark even starts counting down.
My mom is even more drastic. If setting your clock ahead were a touchdown celebration, my mom would be Terrell Owens. HER clock is more than a half an hour fast, yet she still only manages to make it to her destination just in time, for reasons we may never know. My sister's clock is also set well ahead of actual time, but I think this is because when she first plugged in the alarm clock, she just assumed it was 12 o'clock. She still can't figure out why no one else's clock flashes.
It's difficult to say why people set their clocks ahead. It really makes no sense whatsoever. If you know that your clock is set ahead of time, then it really defeats the purpose of setting it ahead of time. But I couldn't live any other way. My dad always reminds us that my grandfather used to say that "five minutes early is ten minutes late," which we all translated as "Let's set our clocks ahead so Dad doesn't get pissed and leave without us again." But I don't know how my wife got into setting her clock ahead, because my father-in-law's motto is "What? We've got plenty of time," which is usually said as Dick Clark is counting down. I guess her clock etiquette is more of a defense mechanism than an embedded habit. Whatever the case, it has worked out well, because we are both always at least a half an hour early to everything. Unless we have to wait for my mom, in which case we will make it just in time, except that her and my dad won't be talking when we get there. My mom may have to start using west coast time, like my sister.