Saturday, May 13, 2006

five year clock

Much to my surprise, I made it through SEATAC security with no questions asked about my Five Year Clock. It's a weighty item, this clock, made of genuine billet aluminum with a grained finish. Billet aluminum is what they make aftermarket Harley accessories from. It's heavy and shiny and suspiciously dense. Probably showed up on the TSA x-ray machine as a cryptic geometric lump in my backpack. But no questions were asked and my Five Year Clock and I hustled down to the boarding gate at the far end of Terminal C.

Now I have my Five Year Clock right next to my laptop here in San Francisco. It's quite the Five Year Gift; it was packed in a festive box, along with a card signed by my boss and his boss. Even though he's most unfond of me, my boss's boss has seen fit to write "Congratulations!" above his signature. "Congratulations!" He may have not even been aware of whom it was for. "Congratulations!" He must not have been aware of whom it was for. There's even a AAA battery thoughtfully enclosed so my clock can start ticking RIGHT AWAY. Not a minute to waste.

I could've set it right away, but I waited until I got home to install the battery. Somehow I thought the ticking would be pushing my luck when I was going through airport security. Tick-tick-tick-tick. TICK. TICK. TICK.

But it ticks very softly, this clock, echoing the quiet passage of time in one's working life. A year goes by. Two years. Five years. Ten.

I almost didn't get the clock, but I espied the box sitting on the corner of my boss's desk, marked with a post-it with my name on it.

"Is that my clock?" I asked him.

"Your clock?"

"Yeah. My Five Year Gift. Is that it?"

He gave it to me with little ceremony. I'm not sure whether he thought I didn't want it or whether the whole thing embarrassed him after a rocky previous year. Or perhaps it had sat on his desk so long that it had simply become invisible to him. In any case, I wanted the damned clock.

That's my clock, mister!

I'm not sure why I wanted the thing so much. A hyperactive sense of irony, probably. If this last year hadn't been so bizarre, so Camus-esque, I probably would've left the clock where it was -- on the corner of my boss's desk -- knowing that it would be a small obstacle in the completion of everyday tasks. After all, a clock with someone else's name on it has little value to him; he couldn't even use it as a last minute X-mas gift.

And god knows, I have enough clocks in the house: it seems like everything'll tell you what time it is these days. The microwave knows what time it is and urges me, "Enjoy your meal" to boot. Mr. Coffee knows the time, as does Mr. VCR, Mr. DVD Player, and Mr. Cheap-ass Clock Radio. Even my cell phone, which is more or less useless for making actual phone calls, usually displays the correct time. Besides, I spend almost my entire life sitting in front of my laptop, which conveniently displays the time in the lower right hand corner of the screen.

In spite of all these clocks, I'm invariably LATE: a half-hour, an hour, several hours, sometimes even days. It's easy to consult all these clocks -- they're everywhere. But I get distracted.

Some of it has to do with the galvanic sock response. When you have one sock on your foot and one sock in your hand, you have a situation with uneven electrochemical potential. So you end up being forced to do something to compensate. Reading a magazine, for example, or attending to your email. Playing solitaire works too. The galvanic sock response makes me late and there's nothing a billet aluminum Five Year Clock with my name engraved on a plaque can do about it. Nothing. You hear me? Nothing.

These are important laws of physics. Fundamental laws of nature.

But that's my clock, Mister, and I'll be collecting it to put on the shelf with all my other important commemorative gifts.

For example, here's my Ten Year Pin from Xerox. It has two -- not one, but TWO -- faux emeralds. Or perhaps they're simply man-made emeralds. When I'd reached a management grade level at Xerox, I received the Employee Morale Catalog without even having to ask. It informed me that my Ten Year Pin cost someone $2.50. That's 25 cents/year, right? Life can be so cheap.

At Xerox, some people wore their anniversary pins on their badges, somewhat reminiscent of Jennifer Aniston's flair in Office Space. There'd be badges crowded with pins commemorating various employment anniversaries, software (I have one that says LOOPS), the updated corporate logo, and the Rose Parade.

I can't really wear my clock. It's also hard to readily make out the time; it's got a lot of features, some of which actively obscure my ability to read it. You can see what the time is in other places, for example, or set a wake-up alarm (as long as you don't want to sleep more than twelve hours). It's a bit confusing, although I'm happy to say that its display is analog and it has the comforting glow-in-the-dark hands. Even if the power goes off, I'll know what time it is.

The medical device company that Mark worked for gave him a knife on his fifth anniversary. Perhaps it is suitable for performing ad hoc surgery. In any case, it seems to be quite useful for cutting up oranges and for opening the packaging of overly-aggressively plastic-encased electronics and other shopliftable items.

I'm delighted to have my Five Year Clock here by my side. It reminds me of my name (not to mention my middle initial); I can tell what time it is in Sri Lanka; and it's made of genuine billet aluminum like Screamin' Eagle Style End Caps to spiff up one's noisy Harley mufflers.

Tick-tick-tick. It also reminds me of the quiet passage of time.



Blogger ultracharmin said...

That clock rocks! Glad to see you're blogging, Cathy. You had me laughing out loud. (Scott Rettberg)

3:06 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Thanks, Scott.

I realized that if I blog, I no longer have to leave the house at all.

Except to have things to blog about...

4:15 PM  

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