Tick Tock
Michelle Parkington, Division 3, Graduate school

Wait a minute. Give me a second to think. Is the time limit up, yet? Okay, then, my most important piece of technology… my analog watch. I hunt for the perfect timepiece, like it's my job. A silver band, waterproof to 1 atmosphere, round blue face, silver sweeping second hand, and the date where the number three would be. Everyone has some concept of time, there are many different feelings about time passing or observing time arrive. The meaning of time might be as diverse to each person as the number of ways we keep track of time.

Time, I think, relates across generations in a unique way, in that, we all have it. And that, since we have marked time, it has always been the same; a second has always been 1/60th of a minute, which has always been 1/60th of an hour, which relates to a day, week, month, year, decade and a few more increments that mostly the oldest people alive can personally relate to. We all use it to determine ever-loving, early-algebra, high school level, real world rate problems. How long will take to get to the grocery store and the post office? If I leave the train station on a bus in an hour, and my friend leaves her home in a car in two hours, where should we meet for lunch? If I watch three half hour TV shows, how much time does that leave for sleeping before my morning needs to start?

Every culture has time. Some rely specifically on a digital time piece, some traditionally use analog, some naturally use a sundial, while some simply note if the sun is up or down. There are pieces known as the kitchen timer, a sand filled hourglass, and even lights that turn off after being on for a designated time period, that help us note the passage of time. There is that interesting concept of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) where the United Kingdom and a few others are always right, and the rest of the world is busy doing math to figure out how they relate. And the economic adjustment for saving energy, daylight savings time, considered a couple hundred years ago, which further confuses who is right about what time it is.

Time has a quality that is so universal; and yet, has such a personal feeling. Consider the passage of time or anticipation of its arrival. To a newborn, one hour could be half of their lifespan, to a college student one hour could be a valuable nap, to a professional athlete one hour could be a fourth of their weekly paycheck, and to a retiree one hour could be the time they casually spent sipping a single cup of afternoon tea. There is gut wrenching feeling recognizing time passed and was not spent wisely, and quite a different devious feeling about procrastination, delaying the inevitable until the last minute, because of course, then it will only take a minute to do. Many people have experienced the sinking feeling, watching the clock tick by, as a daunting speech or presentation time arrives, or the flip side, of eagerness as you wait to pick a friend up at the airport from a delayed flight. And, who hasn't had to wait to open an exciting gift, or to take a bite of something super delicious on a special occasion.

It's interesting how time has such an active lifestyle, flying and dragging. Time can fly by when you're having fun, or drag by when you're not. Counting breaths or heart beats can be medically reassuring or very concerning while watching the ticking second hand sweep along. I've never met a modern car or truck that did not have clock in it. Even today's modern telephone, namely, a cellphone, is seemingly used more often for its time keeping, than for making a phone call. Driving down a street and seeing the time on a bank marquee, and sometimes a gas station's price board, has become common place. Could you imagine NASA's Kennedy Space Center without a countdown to launch? Or more importantly, fathom the New Year's Eve Swarovski encrusted Time Square ball drop, or Raleigh, North Carolina's 900 pound copper and steel acorn drop, without a count down. Time is busy squeezing into every part of our life.

There are so many ways to start a day, all related to time. I feel really at peace when I wake up only five minutes early, and can turn off my alarm before it screams at me. I am really sad and sometimes frustrated if I wake up one hour early, missing out on 60 glorious minutes of sleep. Waking up late results in that terrible sinking feeling, knowing that I'll have to rush around to get ready and probably still be late, and will not be able to take solace in being less late. And to me, I figure every time, that maybe just maybe the battery died or the electricity went out in the middle of the night, and I find myself comparing one alarm clock to another, or checking an appliance (which all see to come with a clock these days), and finally comparing it to my favorite analog watch… and then hoping that its own battery did not quit, and do the early morning math to consider exactly how long ago, when, at what time, did I last change the battery.

While there are many ways to tell time, my favorite way is on an analog watch. Really, without a face watch, teenage boys could have never checked out a cute girl at their 3 o'clock, and the movie Top Gun could have never had an aggressor plane chase their 6 [o'clock]. While I find I'm not all that brand loyal, because they don't seem to loyally supply my simple watch needs, I do find that the most important piece of technology for me is my silver band, waterproof to 1 atmosphere, round blue face, silver sweeping second hand, and the date where the number three would be. Tick Tock.

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