Sunday, May 29, 2016

where does the time go when it's not around here

My friends and I used to play this game when we were kids — "How Old Will I Be in the Year 2000?" As a youngster in the middle 1960s, the turn of the century was a million years away. Television shows like Lost in Space (set in futuristic 1997) showed us that traveling to planets inhabited by giant vegetables would be as accessible and commonplace as a trip to the supermarket. The Jetsons presented a future filled with servant robots, push-button dinner preparation and flying cars. As a six-year old, trying to visualize a thirty-nine year old Josh in the 21st Century was unfathomable. The magically distant year 2000 would never arrive. Or so I thought back in my youthful days when a drive to Atlantic City took ten hours. (It actually took 90 minutes; 75 in light traffic) and the minutes of the school day would creep by like a snail. However, on a positive note, a Saturday matinee movie would serve up what seemed like an entire day of entertainment and summer vacations seemed endless.

Now, here we are — sixteen years into the 21st century. Things are great, but they didn't play out exactly as I had imagined when I was six. The little, silly pictures I drew as a child became the stepping stone to my career as a professional artist. However, my little imagination never considered that thirty-nine year old Josh would be married with a thirteen-year old son when the year 2000 rolled around. 

But, I can't quite place the exact moment when time went from a deliberate crawl to a mad dash. Now, it seems that days, months, years go by so quickly. Time is whizzing by at an astounding rate. It's already May! It was just January! The days zoom by. I sometimes look at the clock and it's 9:30 in the morning and my next glance tells me it's 4 in the afternoon. It's a different story for events in my long-term memory. I am blessed (sometimes cursed!) with a great memory, but I have trouble gauging how long ago certain events happened. If I try to remember when a saw a particular movie or concert, or how long since a specific vacation, I am usually off by a few years. I can recall numerous details — minor characters in movies or side dishes of meals we've had on vacation — but when it comes to pinpointing the time frame, I'm way off. Considering how aware of time I have become, I will just blame that shortcoming on my advancing age.

Oh, I am very aware of time. Most of what I do on a daily basis is dictated by time. Getting up for work, deadlines, bill-paying, appointments for haircuts (and hair coloring — very important!), setting the brand-new DVR for recording a favorite movie — all are time-driven. So, imagine my concern when yesterday, I awoke before my alarm went off and watched as the clock ticked right past the set time without a sound. Uh-oh! I checked to confirm that I had, indeed, set the alarm the night before. (I did.) I checked the settings and everything looked normal. I had this clock-radio for a long time. Long enough that I had forgotten exactly how long. Its electronic "beeping" and its dual alarm had served my wife and I well. It dutifully alerted me when it was time to go to work or to leave for a family vacation. But now, sadly, my trusty alarm clock had run out of time. It was time for a replacement. (Jeez! How many more "time" puns can I slip in here?)

New slogan.
When I got home from work, I headed over to a local Target store. I parked my car and walked in, unconsciously making my way back to the small electronics department where, I assumed, I would find a selection of alarm clocks from which I could choose, I wasn't looking for anything fancy. All I needed was one with a dual alarm and a large, bright display that I could read in the dark without my glasses. As I approached the small department I saw several flat-screen TVs and an endcap display of iPhones. In the first aisle, there were shelves of wireless speakers, something that did not exist the last time I bought a clock-radio. Aisle number two was stocked with various sizes of home networking hardware, all securely wrapped with cables and some sort of theft-deterrent device. I strolled slowly up and down each aisle, silently scanning the shelves. I saw printers and headphones and cellphone cases and a few sleek, matte black, high-tech looking things that I couldn't quite identify, but nothing that resembled a clock-radio. Suddenly, I ran out of shelves of electronics and found myself in the garden department.

I retraced my footsteps. I redoubled my shelf-scanning efforts. Nothing. There was not a time-measuring device to be had. I slowly — slowly — walked away from the small electronics department. I even purposely walked through the small kitchen appliances department, hoping to find a clock-radio miscategorized among the blenders and coffee makers. No luck. I returned to my car. Clockless. I would be forced to use the alarm on my cellphone as my daily wake-up call. Y'know, like most people do now.

I suppose I am one of the last members of a dying breed. I still read books with a cover and pages. I still shop in "brick and mortar" stores. 

And I still like to know what time it is.

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