~About Clocks, Calendars & Timepieces~

There is never enough time, unless you’re serving it.  ~Malcolm Forbes

Timepieces and calendars are the instruments that measure existence. They can be very simple like a stick in a circle (or a primitive sundial), or extremely complex like a modern chronograph. They can go with us as we travel (on our wrist or in our pocket) or stand guard in our homes (on shelves or on the floor). They all serve the same purpose, but have an incredible variety of shapes, styles, sizes and movements.

The first timepiece was really the sun. It came up and went down. Came up again. We’ve had one day. Whether Adam realized the earth revolved around the sun or vice-versa makes no difference. The event of the passage of time was calculated in numerical fashion. One could differentiate amounts of time by days – easily done on a grid. However, people needed a more exact way to separate time during the day. In other words, “come to my house at sundown” was easily understood, but “come to my house in 1/20 of a day” was not.

You know the rest, don’t you? Days became broken into hours, hours into minutes, etc. This needs standardization, however, since my hours and minutes may not be the same as your hours and minutes (beach time). That’s the whole point of clocks, timepieces and calendars. We’ve got to be able to meet for lunch at the same time, otherwise the food gets cold and the beer gets warm!

Fortunately, the human race has agreed on a standard of time. Somewhere in the world there exists the perfect clock. It measures minutes in an exact way (60 seconds to the minute). Everyone who makes a clock must go to this place (unknown to the rest of the world) and synchronize their products to the master. They then place a small piece of tape over the pendulum, spring, or battery that can’t be touched until the purchaser removes it. Once removed, the clock will keep accurate time until the weights hit the bottom, the spring is “un-sprung”, or the battery runs dry. At this point of time, one must usually re-wind the instrument with a special key or run to the local drugstore to find the identical small dial of energy that will fit in the select spot. Unfortunately, the store never has the right dial, so this task becomes time consuming.

Every once in a while (usually once a year, when least expected), the clock breaks. It doesn’t fall apart, but it just kind of loses its get up and go. It seems to always be late. Rarely does it maintain the same readings as all the other timepieces you own, and often needs manual correction. This becomes a real pan in the neck. It also takes valuable time. When this begins to affect our lives, like missing important traffic updates on the radio, we go ballistic.

It’s either time for a new timepiece or time to find a repair-person to fix the erratic one. Finding a new timepiece is easy, but finding a new repair-person is hell. These people are reclusive. They are cranky. They are unsociable. {If any clock repair people are reading this, we don’t mean you. You are the exception}. Perhaps it’s because they sit in a room with a million clocks ticking all at the same time (if they are good at repairing clocks).

Mind you, they don’t go to school for this. It would take up too much time. Instead, they learn their trade through experience. To me, that says trial and error. They learn by breaking clocks and trying to fix them. They learn by looking at broken clocks and deeming them un-fixable. Then they hide them in the back of the room in case another one comes in just like it. Maybe they’ll find one that works and they can see what’s missing, bent, or stuck.

In any case, they work on your clock. It always takes forever. They have a sign hanging over their desk that says “We fix no clock before it is time.” I think that means that they fix it when their next tax bill comes in the mail. Not really, these are good chaps. The real reason it takes so long is not the parts (they’re small) or labor (these are not heavy parts), but the accuracy.

All clock repair people must check the accuracy of their repairs. That means they must travel incognito to some place in the world to the master clock. They must synchronize the clocks. That’s an expensive proposition. They don’t just take one clock, but all the clocks they’ve been working on for a whole year.

This insures the world that time is right. It’s also why the clock repair-person gets so much money for so little work. Now, who has the time? I think my watch has stopped.


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