Thursday, March 01, 2007

There was no ticking, but it sure took a licking...
REQUIEM FOR A WRISTWATCH...

The year was 1993. I needed a watch. I went into the local Shopko store, and saw a Timex digital watch going for a fairly reasonable price, so I plunked down my hard-earned cash, and that was the last watch I would buy for the next 13 YEARS. The amazing thing about that Timex watch was that it gained only 4 seconds a MONTH! People have taken note of Timex' low-price watches; every now and then accidents do happen, and occasionally, a low-budget Timex watch keeps perfect time. And the Timex I had came doggoned close.

When I worked for the local radio station, doing audio for basketball games, during halftime, the sportscasters would break for 10 minutes or so, during which I would air tape-recorded news, halftime commercials and whatever else filled up 10 minutes, which was being timed by, you guessed it, my trusty Timex digital watch. When I went out for training runs, I always timed every single run I went on. I would run at least 3 days a week, and often, more than that. And I did that clear up until the year 2000. That's a lot of runs, and a lot of time which was measured by the stopwatch function on, you guessed it, my trusty Timex. I could press a button at night and the dial would light up, and I could see what kind of pace I was keeping.

The stopwatch function on my old trusty Timex digital watch was 'different'...it would keep time up thru 59 minutes and 59 seconds, then start over at 00:00. As such, it was the perfect watch to wear during Bloomsday, because I was always trying to finish in under one hour. I never accomplished that, but the year I got that watch, 1993, when I got to the finish line, my watch read 00:00:04. Four seconds over one hour. And that was as close as I ever got. In more leisurely times, I would use my trusty Timex watch to time songs in my record collection that had no 'total time' listed. I kinda got attached to that old watch; I marveled at how efficient it was, and as time went on, I couldn't believe how long the battery lasted, especially since I used not only the "time" function, I used the watch's light quite frequently, plus all of that "stopwatch time".

Finally, and ironically, in 2001, the year I lost both my parents, my Timex watch began to act a little bit crazy. Although it tried valiantly to keep time, little fragments of numbers kept appearing on the screen. When I turned on the watch's dial light, those character fragments would disappear. The alarm, which I'd also used a lot over the years, would not sound out at all anymore. In short, my watch was beginning to give up the ghost. Now, you figure that, after an 8-year run, the average person would probably just throw away the watch and get another cheapee timekeeping device, but not me. I was attached to that watch, after all.

I took it to a jewelry store, where they tried to put a battery in it, but the battery wouldn't work. Again, we're talking about a "less than twenty-dollar watch" here. The jeweler apologized to me and said they would send my watch to a repair firm in California or somewhere, and get it repaired for me free of charge. I told them, "but it's just a cheap watch, are you sure?" And that's what they did. My watch came back with a new battery, and it was keeping close-to-perfect time once again. Only later did I notice that the light did not come on, I couldn't get into the stopwatch function, and if I had to re-set the watch, I would have to push the watch buttons into a hard surface; ordinary finger pressure just didn't work anymore.

Well, by 2001, my running days were over, and my days in radio were but a fleeting memory that I am still trying unsuccessfully to forget. All I needed the watch for, was to just keep time. And my ol' Timex digital watch did that just fine. It was still keeping close to perfect time. By that time, my watch could only perform a fraction of the tasks it once did. Okaaay...well, by then, I couldn't do as much as I had been able to do either. So it was me and my watch...I doing my best to exist, while "it" was doing its best to keep time. That second battery has now been in my ol' Timex digital for going on 5 years now, and it'll probably keep on going for another 4 or 5 years.

But, alas, I've had to retire my old Timex watch. One night last week, after I'd been playing guitar at a jam session, I noticed the watchband was beginning to fall apart. And, factoring in the cost of a new watchband, and taking into account that the ol' Timex digital couldn't do everything it used to do, I opted for a new watch. And in a way, I felt as if I was betraying my old Timex watch. Like Paul Simon sang, "I seem to lean on old familiar ways." (But I would not be convicted by a jury of my peers. Why? 'Cuz I'm still crazy after all these years.) And as I type this, I'm wearing my new Casio digital watch. The ol' Timex not only kept time, it displayed the day of the week and the date. The Casio goes one better; it also displays the "year"!

Now, you might think that I'd just throw away the old Timex. And probably many people would. After all, we live in a disposable culture. Nope, can't fix it; it's all circuitboards anyway, might as well just buy a new one when you figure it would cost more to repair it, yadda yadda yadda. But that's not going to happen to my old Timex. When my Dad died, the only things I took of his were three watches I remembered him wearing when I was a little kid. Sometimes I wind those watches and they come to life again. And I remember Dad. The good times...and the tough times. Especially the tough times. There were a lot more of those.

I save Dad's watches in a little miniature treasure chest I've had for years. And that's where my trusty ol' Timex digital watch will go. It'll assume its rightful place in its receptacle, having seen better days and now mercifully being put to rest. No, I can't bear to junk it. After all, me and that ol' Timex, we sure went through a lot together. From time to time, I'll look at that old watch and think of past times. Such as when I ran the Portland Marathon in 1993. That year, above the crowd on a catwalk, cameramen took pictures of the runners going under them. One of those photographers was from "Runners' World" magazine, a national runner's publication. And, among the crowd, there I was, front and center, in Runners' World magazine. I do believe that was my "15 minutes of fame" boiled down to a single click of the shutter. And, I was wearing, you guessed it...my ol' Timex digital watch.
____________________

In closing...from the Paul McCartney songbook:

Motorcars, handlebars, bicycles for two
Brokenhearted jubilee...
Candlesticks, building bricks, something old and new
Memories for you and me...
Buy, buy, says the sign in the shop window
Why, why, says the junk in the yard...

4 Comments:

Blogger Dogwalkmusings said...

Boy, now I know this move was right for you. A sweetness to that memory about old watches. I have a few of my Mom's that I won't part with either. A keepsake box. No anger showing. Must be the ocean air! Wonderful.

2:19 PM  
Anonymous lil' ol' me said...

Mari...had I been angry? Maybe so. I had to think about that. But I don't WANT to be angry here. I'm trying to start over, after all. Thank you for your sweet comment.

I found another watch of mine that only worked for a little while. But it had a good band on it. So I put it on my Timex watch. Now I can wear it again. But I'm tremendously mixed up; I have two watches that work now. Do I have to allocate both of them "equal time">?

3:08 AM  
Blogger Curiously Perusing said...

Hello, I came across your story when searching "my timex battery goes forever." I love your writing style and hope that my watch will provide me with as much reliably and joy as yours did. Thanks for sharing!

9:53 PM  
Blogger little ol' me said...

HEY, Mr. Peruser...I found a watchband I wasn't using. So the Timex is back in business. I wear it a couple of days a week. The new watch I have? It has a 10-year battery. Hope it doesn't outlive ME!

3:20 AM  

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