A few weeks ago my digital watch went kaput. It’s a waterproof watch because I put my hands in water on a regular basis, and replacing the battery on those is a pain, because it usually breaks the waterproofness, and most places won’t replace it for you….because they can’t get the seal right either.
At that point I decided I would try again to switch to the more au currant style of just using one of my digital devices to tell me the time. I have an iPod and a Droid on me at most times, so I’m not actually far from a time device very often. However, all of these do not have the immediacy of tilting my wrist to see the time.
For the first few days I found myself looking and fumbling, feeling almost a panic, as remembered I needed to find a device and turn it on to see the time. On Shabbat I actually had to go to where a clock was to see it, since I can’t fiddle with my electronic devices to turn them on to show the time. It was all a bit disorienting. But now, a couple weeks in, I’ll think I wonder what time it is, turn on a device, and idlely bring up some application without looking at the time. The “need to know the time” was more of a habit than a real need. Knowing the time regularly never made me more on time for scheduled events – that seems to be governed by some other factor. I either have ontimeness or not.
Today, when I once again wondered what time it was, and then found myself playing pocket frogs instead of seeing the time I thought that I should really make a Now watch, and I was reminded of a story my uncle told me.
So what’s a now watch. Back in the 70′s my uncle in SF used to make Now watches. He’d flatten a bottle cap, attach it to a woven wrist band, decorate a round sticker with pen decorated NOW, and stick it on the bottle cap. He’d give these out to friends. His now watch however was made from an old wrist watch that had died, so it looked like a real watch but if you looked at the “dial” you’d see it was a sticker with NOW in fabulous colors.
Anyway, one day he was wandering out and about, perhaps near the financial district, and this older man in a suit, looking very professional and serious came up to him and said “Young man, what time is it.” He did what he always did when someone asked, and looked at his watch and answered “now”. The man nodded his head curtly and said “I thought it was.” and continued on his way.