Our yellowing, 17-year old plastic alarm clock finally up and died this week. Being an easygoing sort, I took it philosophically, figuring Bartell’s was a block away and I’d just nip over and buy a new one. Oh, how wrong I was, my chickadees. How wrong I was. I had no idea alarm clock technology had come so “far” in seventeen years.
The first replacement alarm clock we hastily bought turned out to have a huge, blindingly bright red LED readout, so it was like sleeping under a red neon bar sign. That one promptly got repackaged for return. Then Mr. Typist went without me of his own accord and bought an alarm clock that could only have been created by advanced beings beaming their alien technology into the hypnotized minds of Timex developers. In fact, it was rather space-ship-ish in shape; a sleek orb with an inexplicable dimple at the top that hosted what appeared to be a useless metal plate. It had gentle lights that rotated around and changed color, six tiny buttons on either side, and one big button across the bottom.
The large button, to my initial delight, proved to be a device by which you could play different “soothing” sounds on a timer—roaring ocean, tweeting birds, you get the idea. Unfortunately, this button also doubled for numerous other functions, so that if you didn’t hit one of the tiny, multi-functional buttons on the sides of the clock to “tell” the button what you wanted it to do, it wouldn’t work right. That, and the digital display on the clock face was so microscopically tiny that I couldn’t tell if the alarm was being set for a.m. or p.m. without putting on my glasses, closing one eye, and holding the clock up under the heat lamp in the bathroom at just the right angle. Three times I set the date for March 8th, 2051 instead of the alarm for 5:30 a.m. Not to mention twice confusing the room temperature for the time.
The first night I used it, I had to be at work on time for an early appointment, and I was so paranoid that I hadn’t set it correctly, I kept reaching out to check it compulsively. Its round shape was unwieldy and it kept slipping out of my hands. Whenever I hit the wrong button, (it was impossible not to), it would suddenly blare with the sounds of harps or gentle winds blowing through wheat fields, scaring me half to death and forcing me to drop it again and watch it roll across the floor, laughing at me, mocking me. It went on like this this all night, and when it finally did go off, the alarm beep got progressively louder and louder, because I couldn’t find the correct, tiny-button combination to turn the damn thing off already!
When Mr. Typist asked me later how the new alarm clock worked out, I could only sputter, “It’s wrong. Everything about it is all wrong!” and burst into sleep-deprived tears. I mean, what were they thinking? Alarms clocks need to be simple. People are sleeping! Yes, I love the calming rush of a rainforest waterfall, but at what price? I need a simple clock, people. One I can set with confidence, one I can cradle in my sleepy hands in the mornings as I milk that final fifteen minutes from my stay in the Land of Nod, one I can click off with a single, clumsy, sleep-swollen finger. One that I can trust, damnit. Yes, I was taken in by the magical shifting lights and the sexy multi-function keys, but I now understand that just because one can create the world’s most multi-functional alarm clock, doesn’t mean one should. I am telling you this so you don’t have to suffer as I have. I implore you, buy a bare-bones Westclox four-button travel model and sleep in peace, knowing that your simple little alarm clock will always wake your ass up in time for your important meeting—dully, and ever so faithfully.