When the Clock Got Sick

Once upon a time, in a land not too far from where you live, there was a bank whose outside clock was the talk of the town. Clocks usually don't cause people to talk about them, unless they're not working right. This clock wasn't working right at all.

The clock was a digital clock, meaning that it was the kind of clock with large neon red numbers that glowed both day and night. You could read the clock from an entire block away.

The clock sat prominently a few yards above the main doors to a respected bank, right on the corner of a major intersection in town. In some ways, the clock represented the very center of town.

One day, a few months ago, the time on the clock started slipping backwards a few minutes. At first this didn't cause any alarm. After all, if you are two minutes late, or two minutes early to an appointment, is there any harm done?

But then the clock's health got even worse. Not only did the clock slip back more than a few minutes, sometimes it would actually jump forward an hour or two, and then jump back to being a few minutes late. It was clear to everyone in town that this was a sick clock.

What do you do with a sick clock, though? Take it the clockerenarian? Take it a clockpital? Visit a clocktor?

You're right. Healing a sick clock is not an easy thing to do. First you need to find what's wrong with the clock, and then you need to find a place that sells the particular part that needs replacing.

The bank, being a respected bank, was eager to get the clock fixed and working again. The bank became even more eager after last month's birthday party.

You see, a young child on the way to a birthday party burst into tears when he looked up at the clock and realized that he was going to be late. On that day, the clock was running about two hours fast, and the child was in perfect time for the party. The child just thought he was late, because who would ever doubt the time on a public clock?

And then there was the whole wedding fiasco last week. A groom, on the way to his wedding ceremony, noticed that he was two hours early, so he stopped off at the cybercafe to do some web surfing. When he showed up to the ceremony two hours late, the bride and everyone else were not overjoyed to see him.

The straw that broke the camel's back, though, was last week when an army major was traveling through town. Being an army major, he would regularly adjust his wrist watch to make sure it was perfectly on time. When he saw the clock above the bank, he immediately reset his watch three hours ahead of time. And the next morning he woke his troops at 3 AM to do their regular 6 AM ten mile morning run.

The troops were not amused. And so they stopped by to pay a friendly visit to the bank manager. "Please, please, please repair the clock above the door of your bank," they spoke in military unison. "Each one of us would like to chip in $20 to repair the clock," they added.

The bank manager, a kindly young woman, promised that she would do whatever she could to find a part to repair the clock. She would even take the clock to a clockerenarian, if need be. And she had not ruled out the possibility of driving the clock straight to the clockpital, herself. Her own doctor had recommended some skilled clocktors that she could use when she received the replacement part.

Until the clock was repaired, though, she decided to switch off its electricity. For three weeks the lights on the clock were entirely dark. And then one day a UPS truck drove up the bank with a very small package. Inside that very small package was a very small part that made the clock healthy again.

The town sighed a huge sigh of relief when the clock was switched on again. And then everyone reset their watches and went on their merry way.

Phil Shapiro
Copyright 1997
All Rights Reserved

[This story may be freely copied and distributed for noncommercial purposes.
Internet: pshapiro@his.com]

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