Monday, February 02, 2009

time is not on our side

My grandfather, BigDaddy, bought a new alarm clock when I was in high school. I fell in love with it immediately. It had big red numbers, probably close to 3" tall. You could see it from anywhere in the room, and you didn't have to squint to figure out what time it was. I begged Mom and Dad for one just like it, and they got it for me.

I used that alarm clock for the last two years of high school… then took it with me (back and forth, back and forth) to college. That clock saw me through two degrees and several dozen moves.

The last year or so I was in college I also bought a standard circle analog clock for my dorm room for whatever reason. (Don't we all need multiple clocks in the same small room??)

Then I got married and moved to Uglyhoma. My clocks came with me. I hung my analog clock with the green plastic ring around it in my bathroom; I used it while I got ready in the mornings. It was very helpful. My BigDaddy alarm clock went to the bedroom, obviously.

We lived happily as a well-timed family for a couple of years before my BigDaddy clock ticked its last tock. It was a very sad time, and we began the long road of finding a new alarm clock.

We found one that we liked okay, so we bought it. Meanwhile, my analog bathroom clock was doing just fine. I think being in the different room made the loss of the BigDaddy clock easier.

And then we moved to the house. Shortly after that the alarm clock died. We were surprised that it didn't last very long. We went to the store and bought another, brought it home, and were not pleased at all – it was returned the next day. We bought a second clock, brought it home, and found that it wasn't bright enough to see the numbers on it at all – so it, too, was returned the next day. We ended up buying and returning 3 or 4 clocks before we found one we thought would work.

That particular alarm clock had a radio feature, which I'd never had before. I quickly liked being able to wake up to the oldies station. It was much nicer than the MEEP MEEP MEEP MEEP stabbing at your head in the mornings. And it had a feature where it had two different alarms that you could set at the same time, which meant we could get up at different times! What a concept!!

Within a couple of months the analog clock in the bathroom went to horology heaven. We were sad… We went back to the store to look for another analog clock to replace it, brought it home, and were not pleased at all when it stopped working in the middle of the night – it was returned the next day. This, again, was a process and on the third try we finally found one that would work through the night.

Meanwhile, The Hater started using his cell phone as his alarm clock. This was first a big need on trips away from home, and it was convenient for him. It was easy… at least until right before Christmas when we decided to take the internet off of our cell phones because we didn't use the feature enough to justify the monthly cost. What does that have to do with an alarm clock, you ask? Well, once the internet was set-up on our phones, it would try to connect to our email twice a day, and an alert would come on the screen. We couldn't get any calls (or any alerts, alarms, etc) until you cleared the alert. Even if you chose the "please don't mess with this again" option. We'd thought that turning off the internet would make it go away, but we were wrong. This meant our back-up alarm clock was kaput. We took it to the cell phone place, and they said they fixed it. But they didn't because the next morning it said the same thing. The Hater finally figured out what we'd have to do to make it work, and after another trip to the cell phone store and another ridiculous line, it's finally fixed.

This would be the end of this timely saga, but life is more complicated than that.

Remember at this point I was still using the fun alarm clock that you could set for two times and would alarm with the radio. Shortly after we got this alarm the "Alarm 1" option button wouldn't work anymore. It was pushed down and we simply couldn't unpush it, which means that "Alarm 1" was always on, which means that for the past several months I've gotten up at 4:30am to turn off the alarm clock.

The Hater was aware of this, but it really didn't bother him because he wasn't the one who was turning it off, and usually I'd turn it off before it even woke him up. So in all fairness to him, he didn't know how much it gagged me until I just flat-out asked him last week if we could please get a new alarm clock because I was tired of the pre-alarm every morning when I'm having a hard enough time sleeping as it is. Of course he said we could.

So we went back to the store to buy an alarm clock. This time we knew what not to get -- we pointed out the models that we knew we'd already brought back. Sadly, the same version to the clock we had was no longer an option. But we did find another electric clock with battery back-up. It didn't play the radio, but it did have big blue numbers that were about 3" tall. Its snooze button was even in an easily slappable place. I thought it might work.

At the same time we thought we should also get a clock for the nursery. I'd read that it would be good to have, and my friends all had one in their nurseries, too. So we found a small electric clock (with little numbers and battery back-up) that also had a built-in night light. I immediately envisioned how nice that would be to have next to the changing table:  slap the night light, slap on a new diaper, slap off the night light – perfect!

The first night we had the new alarm clock in the bedroom neither of us slept well. We weren't used to the big blue light coming from that side of the room. Fortunately, it kept time and alarmed when we had set it, so we decided we'd learn to live with the light. I hate to admit, it's great to have a clock with ginormous numbers again.

Yesterday after church I decided to get out the alarm clock for the nursery. I set it up next to the changing table, toggled the light, and checked on it two or three times during the day to make sure it was keeping time. It was. Everything looked fine on it. I made sure the alarm was off and told The Hater to go ahead and throw away the packaging and receipt. He did and took it out to the garbage to be picked up. We watched the Super Bowl and forgot all about the new alarm clock in the nursery.

Until midnight this morning… I was awakened out of a really good sleep, heard an alarm, and had only enough mental fortitude to sit up in bed and say "Alarm. Alarm." The Hater was in the bathroom. I still wasn't awake enough to know if it was the fire alarm or burglar alarm or what. We went to the other side of the house to answer what had to be the loudest, most obnoxious MEEPing in the universe. We entered the nursery and looked over to see that the numbers on the alarm clock weren't even numbers – it was a sick combination of non-numbers and non-letters, like the clock display had just quit working altogether (after a tough 13 hour shift). We fiddled with the clock and ended up unplugging it from the wall and taking the battery out, deciding that we'd just deal with it later.

Now I've had dreams before that when you look at digital clocks, they don't make sense – they're just numbers and letters EXACTLY like the one I saw this morning. As we walked back to the bedroom I wondered if I was dreaming or if I was actually awake. I thought about asking The Hater, but figured he'd tell me I was awake even if I was dreaming. About that time we got to our bedroom, where our alarm clock read real blue numbers. So I decided that I must be awake and the problem must just be the clock in that bedroom before I went back to sleep. I also decided that I wasn't going to worry about it unless it went off again without a battery and without being plugged in to the socket.

This morning I told The Hater I thought I was dreaming when the alarm went off, but he assured me we were awake for that. And then he confessed that he'd been listening to an eerie podcast on Coast to Coast and didn't flip out because of a story about a baby monitor that picked up a ghost baby until after we'd come back to bed. I told him I thought there was a scene in Mothman Prophesies or some old X Files where the clocks go wacko before the aliens came to get them. 

This would be a great part of the story if I could say, "And then the faceless pale aliens came into our bedroom."  But that's not what happened next.

Instead we laughed and he went to work. I went back to the nursery to get the possessed clock, which I'm certain had the alarm OFF yesterday when I plugged it in, and it was still unplugged and without a battery. I took it to the kitchen to see if it would work again, and it still read crazy Cyrillic combo of non-letters and non-numerical figures. But the night light worked every time I turned it on and off.

I share this $8 lesson with you: Learn from our mistakes. They just don't make any kind of time-keeping devices like they used to. The next time you need to make a similar purchase, keep the receipt and original packaging for at least a week before you toss it.  And by all means, don't ask our opinion about what type of timepiece you need to buy. 

We obviously know only how to pick out the duds.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I saw BigDaddy type clocks yesterday at Target. Red numbers and all.