I wrote this ages ago, but only recently rediscovered it.
When I was little, I was given a digital clock.
Keep in mind this was the 1970’s, so “digital” back then meant the way the numbers were displayed, not the way the clock worked. The clock would display the time in standard 12-hour digital notation (it’s North America, after all) in two different sections, and every minute, the right-hand panel would flip from top to bottom and reveal the next minute. Every hour the left-hand one would flip to display the new hour. Imagine two tiny rolodexes, size by side.
It was a really ingenious system, basically requiring only two motorized parts – one to flip the minute panel and one to flip the hour. I remember when I got it, being so excited. I think it was the Christmas when I was five. I was totally and utterly amazed by this clock. I remember plugging it in, puzzling through the manual, and figuring out how to set the time.
That night, flush with pride, I lay in my bed staring at the clock. My room was illuminated by the warm orange glow of its light. It even had a radio, which i had set to a local AM radio station, and had set it to turn on at seven the next morning.
And so, as happens to all children, I got sleepy. In those days, I could fall asleep in an instant. And so, to sleep I went. And woke up one minute later when the sound of the right side panel flipping over crashed through my room as if someone had taken a hammer to the wall.
Eight sleepless hours later, sister and I traded clocks – she had received an old-style two-bell alarm clock that Christmas, and its red shell graced my bedside that night.
And that night, I lay in my bed. I didn’t stare at the clock – this one wasn’t illuminated by a luscious orange glow. And as happens to all children, I got sleepy.
Down into sleep I’d drift. CRACK! – back up into consciousness the tick of the second hand would bring me.
I bless the day true solid-state clocks, with their silent time display became the norm. If a tap is dripping in the washroom, even if its two floors away, I can hear the water hitting the porcelain.
I’m a very light sleeper. Five was too young to learn that.