By Amy McCollom
I went to a doctor appointment recently, and the nurse taking my vitals was amazed at something. She grasped my arm to get a pulse, and said, “Wow! I haven’t seen one of those in years! It’s amazing that you still have one of those! My grandpa used to have one of those that had one of those things on the side that he had to turn every night before bed. I remember as a kid watching him do that and thought it was so magical, all those gears inside.”
I told her I have worn a watch since I was 12 years old, and this one was solar-powered and didn’t need winding, which amazed her even more. As much as it amazed this young lady to see me wearing a watch, I remember a time when most people wore watches. A nice, dependable timepiece was as essential as today’s cellular phone. Time was important because it was not always yours to do with what you wanted.
There was a time for this and a time for that, and you had to know the difference. There was work time and play time, lunch time and dinner time, and time to be in bed. Even the television stations followed a time system and went off the air at a scheduled time when it was time to be asleep. Time schedules, I believe, helped keep the world in order, and running as it should. Even the Bible says, “where there is no plan, the people perish.” Schedules are a good thing. As much as I like my free time, if all time was free time, nothing would get done and calamity would ensue.
Time, schedules, order, the ticking of the clock keep things running the way they should. Knowing the time is always a good thing. I, for one, am terrible at sensing time passing. That is why I need to see a clock to remind me of how much time has passed. I also get distracted easily by shiny things (there is probably a raccoon in my family tree), and I have been known to meander through a craft store for over two hours while thinking it was 20 minutes. So there’s that. I would be lost without a watch. Watches don’t lie, unless you are in the Bermuda Triangle. But we won’t go there, ever.
So look around you. If you see a person with something strapped to their wrist, chances are it’s a Fit Bit or Health Tracker or some kind of Phone/Watch/TV/Entertainment device. It will probably have a black face to save battery power. It will require a push of a button to operate. And it won’t tick.
As progressive and modern as things become, there is still that quiet comfort I have in knowing that all I have to do is look down at my wrist and instantly see the time. No buttons to push, no wi-fi needed, no menu to flip through. Instantly I’m grounded and that feeling will never go out of style. Whether I’m the relic or my watch, doesn’t matter. Relics are worth holding onto because they have value. If only people would look away from their phones long enough to realize this.
As I look around my house, I see other old relics that would probably surprise a younger person today. My iron skillets are still in use, mountain dulcimers hanging on the wall, the front of a desk drawer from a once prominent hotel in Urbana now repurposed as a shelf on the wall. My bookcases are full of books, some classics but some new, a library that tells of all our interests from puppies to politics, cats to christianity. I still own a magazine rack and get periodicals, and sometimes make a purchase not online. I have boxes of real photographs, not just digital blurs on a device or a cloud. Pictures I can pick up and pass to my husband, sort and pile, and put back in their box after I have had a good laugh and a good look at them.
I have a real tea kettle and I make my own tea latte every morning. I have been to a Starbucks once in my life and was shell-shocked by the prices so much I will probably never go back. I can make my own Starbucks drinks at home. Besides, I don’t even like coffee.
The older I get, the more of a relic I have become, and the more I like it that way. Perhaps that’s why you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Because the old tricks are still just fine. Here’s to old dogs, oh, and watches.