You would think an alarm clock that doesn’t accurately tell time would be a useless device. I thought so too at first, but that was just the jaded cynic in me. I’m enlightened now. A changed woman. An optimist, even.
Three years ago I asked for one gift: my own alarm clock. At that time, I shared one with my husband and it was a disaster. It should have worked in theory, but we never seemed to get the hang of dual alarms. Either I’d turn his off when I woke up first or he’d turn mine off when he set his the night before. Either way, what was supposed to wake two people up at two different times woke no one up ever.
I got my wish. Wrapped awkwardly in cheap Christmas paper was my own little radio alarm with a small footprint. Digital red numbers and AM/FM tuning capabilities made it the dream clock for someone who loves transparent technology. (I prefer things to do what they’re supposed to do. All my phone can do is call people. All my coffee maker does is make coffee. My car only drives. And attracts mice for some reason. Don’t ask.)
Anyway, all was well. I could never quite get it tuned exactly to a radio station so most mornings I woke to a mix of hard rock and staticky stock tips. Nevertheless, that first morning my sweet little alarm jumped to life and sent me out into the world happy and on time. The following morning, the same. The following morning I was early. Then I was earlier. Then I was really early. After two weeks, I was way too early. That’s when I realized my clock was only almost perfect. It may have had a lot to offer a girl, it just wasn’t so great at telling time.
So it couldn’t tell time. There are bigger crimes. It was still thin, sleek, and offered a hint of music amidst its static rumblings. I wasn’t going to abandon it to the appliance graveyard just because it had one small shortcoming. I was going to nurture it, maybe rehabilitate it with my patience and love. Three years later it still sits proudly on my nightstand, not telling time with the grace of a pro.
On the surface having a clock that doesn’t tell time may seem like a liability. Imagine looking at a clock and having no clue if what you see is accurate. In fact, you know it’s probably not, but you don’t know how far off it is. What’s the point then, you ask? I will tell you. The point is, ever since my broken clock became my sidekick, I’ve never been better with time management.
When you don’t know what time it really is, you always have to be ready. There are days I’ve “overslept” and jumped out of bed in a panic. I got ready for work in record time and raced down to the kitchen, only to learn I was ten minutes early. That wouldn’t have happened with a functional clock. When clocks actually work, if you oversleep you’re late. Other people panic. I have hope.
When my forgiving clock goes off, I get up. I have to. There’s no snoozing or rolling over for a few more minutes. That’s not an option when your clock doesn’t work. You don’t know how many minutes you have until the real time approaches. Is she four minutes fast today? Twenty minutes? Twelve minutes? You don’t know. So you get up and move.
I should clarify that she only gains time, she doesn’t lose it, so I don’t have to worry about it being later than she says. And honestly, what’s more perfect than that? A clock that can only make you early, not late. Right now it’s 10 PM. Except I know it’s not. Yet, my brain is still getting ready for sleep mode even though I probably have another 10-20 minutes before I actually have to think about bed. A real clock wouldn’t give you that grace period. A real clock would be chiding me and nagging me to shut down my laptop and turn off the TV. Not mine. She’s polite and merciful.
Oh sure, I hear you skeptics out there. Why not get a functional clock and just set it ten minutes ahead? Ha! Setting your clock ahead doesn’t help anyone because there’s no mystery. You know the secret trick. You’ll just compensate the other way. If you’re like my husband, you’ll overcompensate the other way. No, this only works with my baby. It only works if you have no idea how far ahead it is, if at all. There’s no math when she sings at 6AM. It’s up and in the shower. It’s like playing the lottery every morning. Sometimes I win. Sometimes I win big. Sometimes I barely break even.
But I never lose. No, she won’t let me lose.
I was a cynic. I thought I had a useless paperweight. A dust collector. A piece of junk wasting most of the precious real estate beside my bed. Instead, I had a priceless weapon against the relentless morning routine. I had my answer to a lengthy commute and intimidating closet of clothes that never seem to fit the same from day to day.
I have my perfect clock and now I say this:
Take that daylight savings! I used to fear you. Now I laugh at you. Others may set their clocks ahead this weekend. They will dread their loss of sleep and being forced to adjust to a new schedule. But I, yes I, have been conditioned for years now to adjust to new schedules. Every day is daylight savings for me. Yes, I laugh at you. My clock and I will dance into Sunday the same way we’ve danced into every day for the past three years: with a bit of hard rock and a chorus of staticky stock tips.
It’s now 10:23. Except it’s not.