by SB SM
This essay was written in 1286. Of course, I’m joking. I wasn’t even born in 1286, but this article is so technologically dated that it makes me feel as if I should be stuffed and put on display in a museum with my watch set to beep on the hour. I’ve dredged this up from the archives to set the stage for tomorrow, when …
Silverback Bill (Hinesburg SBs) tells his own tale of Beeping Watches with Customer First?
The scene was quintessentially Vermont. Christmas Eve. Outside, a light snow fell, muffling the silent landscape. Within the Upper Granville church, the community gathered to offer thanks through silent prayer. Echoes of children singing “Silent Night” were the only vestige of sound. The church was redolent with smells -evergreens, kerosene lamps, Mrs. Blanchard’s chocolate chip cookies. The scene was not unlike Christmas Eves celebrated in the same place for the last 100 years.
The good reverend had suggested silence as an appropriate medium for sending the message of gratitude. Little did he know that as the prayer was beginning, the clock was striking eight. Well, not exactly. Instead of the evocative resonance of a tolling bell, there was the communal cry of digital watches:
Beep-beep. Doot-doot-doot. Eeek-Eeeeeeek.
Here’s the scenario. You have, say, three children. Each of them has a birthday and Christmas every year. In total that’s six “gift occasions.” For the last four years each child has received a digital watch with built-in beeper on each occasion, mostly from sadistic grandparents who can never think of gift ideas.
Each watch comes with an instruction booklet that comes in four languages (none of them Japanese) with operating instructions incomprehensible to anyone over 20. The kids immediately program every digital feature -the daily alarm, the hourly reminder -that involves a noise. Then, of course, they lose the booklet.
And your home, on the hour, sounds like the nesting area for a thousand bats: Beep-beep, Doot-doot-doot, Eeek-Eeeeeeek.
The electronic sound is impossible to echo-locate, meaning that you can search for hours to find an offending watch. Once found, if you are like me, you are too cheap to throw it out. After all, it keeps great time. If digital watches did not keep great time, then they couldn’t go off simultaneously during church services.
Beeping watches draw attention to themselves at the most inopportune times. Many a moment of passionate ardor has been doused by the dreaded sound:
Beep-beep, Doot-doot-doot, Eeek-Eeeeeeek.
My worst digital moment came during a tense face-off I was having with my boss. He had just suggested that I quit, and I counter-proposed that he just fire me. Reaching the moment of truth, we stared across the desk at each other, unflinching, nostrils flaring. The next one to speak would lose.
Beep-beep, Doot-doot-doot, Eeek, Eeeeeeek.
The tension drained from the situation like air from a razor-slashed balloon.
“I’m sorry. Is that me beeping?”
“Oh no, I think it’s me. Sorry.”
Most humiliating is when the alarm (which you set earlier that morning to remind you to pick up a video on the way home) goes off, and you can’t remember how to turn it off. this only occurs when you are in front of a group of people discussing a sensitive subject.
There’s this doctor I know. Doctors are entitled to watch videos, right? So he sets his alarm as a reminder. At just the time he expected to be driving home, he happened to be meeting with the hospital board of directors pleading for a million bucks to build a health care facility for the homeless and:
Beep-beep, Doot-doot-doot, Eeek-Eeeeeeek.
He pushed all the buttons, but the little fella kept on squeaking. The alarm is supposed to shut itself off after ten seconds, but someone at the Casio factory must have put in the wrong microchip, because this one squealed for what the man described as “half my adult life.”
Any semblance of competence slipped away. “If the guy can’t even turn off the alarm on his watch,” the board members said to themselves, “what’s he gonna do with a million bucks?” Our doctor friend considered options -sticking his arm in a drawer, yelling “Omigod, I’m due in surgery!,” or pretending it was not his watch. Instead, he opted for sawing off the offending arm and throwing it out the window.
Naw-w-w. Not really, but you get the point. Beeping watches. Bleeping beeping watches.