Time Matters

Published 3:27 pm Thursday, February 9, 2012

Have you ever noticed stores don't have clocks on their walls any more? Their time has passed.

And I will tell.

Seriously. Look for a clock on your next visit to the checkout line of just about any business.

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There might be one in a bank (there's a nice grandfather clock in one local branch but that doesn't count so much since it's a nice piece of furniture that happens to tell time), but I haven't seen so much as a wall clock in the grocery stores that I frequent or even in many retail settings.

Not in restaurants.

Or drugstores.

Or pretty much any place money exchanges hands.

I suppose they don't want you to think about the other things you could be doing when you're in line tapping your foot while the customer ahead is zapped by a slow motion ray. (Pesky slow motion rays, but there's not much you can do about them.) They also don't want you to feel hurried to go on to somewhere else to do something else, think about what you could be doing or see how time sieves through the fingers of life while waiting for service.

They want you to relax, enjoy the moment in timeout, focus on the goodies in the basket, spend some cash and not really dwell on time itself.

(Or maybe they just don't want you to find the reverse switch on the slow motion ray?)

If you're wondering why time is on my brain, it's because for several weeks I had to survive with a stopwatch, er make that a stopped watch. My wristwatch battery died before Christmas and I was making do for several weeks before getting it fixed. It sounds cheap, I know, but I took it in to be serviced on a few occasions and the back was screwed on tighter than a drum. Until a jeweler was finally able to crack it, I was safely stretching time updates from the radio in the truck to clocks at work and those outdoor time/temperature things in front of the banks. (A special shout-out goes to the Third Street Citizens branch for their large electronically lit up numbers and fast altering time and temperature sign. It was my last check-in for pulling into the parking lot at work.)

Going from one clock to another without clock face time in between.

As odd as it may sound, I was sort of getting used to living this way, even if I looked like I was in some old TV detective show occasionally asking someone if they had the time when I didn't really need an alibi.

You can crystallize your efforts and survive without a timepiece, I learned, even if you can't function without time-though it does somehow manage to keep slipping into the future.

Time after time.

Tic, tock, tic.

Such are the days of our lives.

I have the watch back in service, of course, but as I sit at the computer and write, I find I'm still in a Swiss time space continuum-caught between the real and the surreal. There are six timekeepers within my sight in the newsroom. One is on a menu bar on the computer in front of me, a second comes in the form of a small, weighted digital clock that rests on the desk, and another, to the left on the wall, is a Redskins football clock. (Oh that the hands had a reason to applaud, but recent times in D. C. have not been kind.)

To my right, the most interesting is a collection, are three identical, round wall clocks ticking away. Instead of being labeled Hong Kong, Tokyo, London or Washington, or New York as you might expect to see in a newsroom with such affixed time pieces, they track time in Dillwyn, Farmville and Cumberland Court House.

It was some visionary to come up with such humor, and I am not the source.

For the record, it's 2:30 in Dillwyn and Cumberland Court House, 2:28 in Farmville. Interestingly enough, though we have synchronized them, they just can't keep time at the same pace.

Time must run its course, I suppose, for every locality.

Oh, I guess my space is gone so time's up for this edition of Lifeprints.

Doggone that time space continuum.

Where's a slow motion ray when you need it?