Thursday, September 23, 2010

Excuse me, do you have the time? 

When I learned the other day that less than 25 percent of us wear watches anymore, I realized that I'm a member of yet another minority.

I can understand why the majority are watch-less, and when you think of it, who really needs one anyway?

Most people, young and old, carry cell phones, BlackBerries and i-pods with built-in clocks, so they constantly know the time of day.

According to a CBS News story by Amy S. Clark titled "Wear a Watch? What for?" the way we track time is not what it used to be.

In her report, Clark reveals that most teens have never worn a watch and more and more adults are adopting this trend.

She quotes behavioral scientist Max Kilger, who says a cell phone is one step up from a watch. "It begins to help you manage your time. And a BlackBerry is one level up from that."

In other words, people no longer check the time, the time checks them. Instead of looking at wrist watches, like I do a gazillion times a day, people have electronic devices that check them by beeping or vibrating.

Clark's article notes that people's lives have become automated by ring tones and chimes, telling them when to pick up the kids, when to go to the doctor or when to meet a client.

This all sounds quite backwards and makes me wonder who's in charge, anyway?

Remember, you used to know the time of day when your mother hollered for you to come home for dinner?

Back then, you knew it was time to get out of bed when the milkman left cold fresh jugs of milk on the side porch bright and early. Or you could see light coming through closed blinds at the break of day.

You knew it was one o'clock in the afternoon when the mailman came by and six in the evening from the sound of the ice cream truck ringing its way down the street.

You could tell it was noon by the way daylight lit up the dining room, and you knew what time it was when the kitchen was illuminated by the setting sun.

Years ago and still today, you know exactly what time it is by where the sun is in proximity to Earth. When the sun is predominantly in the East, it's still morning. Overhead? It's the afternoon. And when it's setting in the West, you can pretty much call it a day.

When I was a kid, I knew what time of night it was when I could hear my dad coming home way past my bedtime. I should have been asleep long before, but something kept me awake.

On Sundays, I knew how much time I had before church just by looking out the window. You see, the church my family attended was right across the street from my childhood home.

By surveying the number of cars parked outside, I could calculate how much time I had before the service started.

Back then, I didn't wear a watch. Didn't need to.

2010 © Copyright Paula Damon. A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Damon is a national and state award-winning columnist. Her columns have won first-place in National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women Communications Contests. In the 2009 and 2010 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, Paula's columns took first-place awards statewide. To contact Paula, email, follow her blog at and find her on Facebook.

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