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November 19, 2002

More Time Tales

Kelly and I hit the mall on Saturday on a Christmas mission. She needed to locate Peer Gynt "for Mom", and I needed to find out if we could repair her two broken watches. Both are Mickey Mouse watches, of different vintage. The battery-powered one is from our trip to Disney World about a decade ago. The mechanical one is from Jean's childhood, and has sat in a box on it's own homemade denim wristband for years. It's 25 or 30 years old.

Back at the Sears watch repair shop, the same lady easily replaced the battery in the newer watch, even putting a new strap on the wristband. But opening up the wind-up, she declared that it was a 'single-piece' movement, too difficult to work with, built cheap for childrens' watches, lo these many years ago. Okay, so I'm batting .500, better if you count the fact that I've got a G.I. Joe wind-up watch in the mail for Jean's stocking.

We went up to the food court to see what Kelly wanted for a treat, but stopped in the record store first to look for Kelly's present "for Mom." After a brief search we found it, but getting Kelly out of the store was like pulling teeth. Every little thing grabbed her attention, and she kept hauling me back into the store by the arm (she's strong for a seven-year old). I don't know if you have been into a Sam Goody's store before, but it is CDs, DVDs and videotapes, T-shirts, posters, 'toys' based on comic-book heroes, in other words, a honeypot for kids. We eventually got out of there, and headed to get some ice cream.

By now we were at the other end of the mall from where we parked, so Kelly had to eat and walk while I 'broke trail'. In a bit I noticed that her two-scooper was listing to one side, and I suggested that we sit on a bench until she finished it. She got a chair, and I stooped down beside her. While she reveled in the sensory pleasure, I reveled in the stream of people.

I've always enjoyed this aspect of the mall, and indeed any large gathering of people. I love watching them float past, remarkably varied even for the monoculture of Oregon. Now, some fifteen years after we arrived in Oregon, the crowd mix in the mall is even more varied than then. Black, White, Asian, Latino, young, punk, yuppie, rural, urban, it really is all over the map. As people walk by in clusters, I can see them talking animatedly, catching snippets of their conversation, embellished by their body English. Some stories are playing out as they walk past. Next to us, a grandmother tries to convince her 3 or 4-year old granddaughter to take her hand. After some cajoling she stands straight and marches down the hall. The child jumps as if shocked by electricity, and scurries after Grandma.

I think I could do this all day. In my many and varied careers, I worked in a mall bookstore, and it was there I picked up the habit of entertaining myself by immersing myself in the babbling brook at the mall. It was fun to do it again. I don't usually go to the mall, maybe twice a year.

Update: I've since called a watch repair shop (not Sears kiosk style, but a full-blown watch-smith) and he says that the watch may be of a sort that can't be repaired, but that he is equipped better to try. So for a baseline of $50, we're going to try to restore Jean's heirloom watch to function. Funny, in my reading on the web, I'm told that you should really have a mechanical watch cleaned and repaired every two years. If this watch was as cheap as all that, does it make sense to spend $50 every two years to maintain it? For that matter, the G.I. Joe watch is only $40. Are we going to 'maintain' that one? 'Time' will tell. In the meantime, I'm saving up for a Poljot Shturmanskie (just kidding).

More cruft gleaned from the Internet in the great watch hunt: remember automatic watches? They use tiny counterbalancing wheels to wind up the mainspring when your wrist moves about. This saves you the drudgery of actually having to wind the watch once a day. I suppose it could also reduce the number of gears attached to the stem (setting time, winding the mainspring), but I've read it requires more gears to handle the counterbalance. Anyway, maybe an automatic watch is still too unreliable for you. What if you leave it on the dresser for a few days? Then you have to waggle it about until it's wound. Or you could buy a watch winder, a case with a wristband mount that rotates, to wind your watch up when you are not wearing it. And the Regency model (single watch only) costs a mere $380! Wow! God I love those Yankee inventors!

Posted by dpwakefield at November 19, 2002 04:45 PM