There is no shortage of things that can tell us the time. Watches, smart watches, smart phones, dumb phones, alarm clocks, wall clocks, laptops, desktops, microwaves, ovens, coffee makers — these are just some of the things you might look at on a daily basis that display it. And if you’re anything like me, the ubiquitousness of time-telling devices makes you less of a punctual person than a frenetic one, because you’re constantly being reminded, sometimes up to the second, of how late you are, how behind deadline you are, or how imminent that meeting you’re dreading is.
So it should come as no surprise that, when Urban Outfitters sent a package of back-to-school things over to our office, the included clock was the last thing I wanted. Not only because it was another thing that would force the time upon me, but also because the clock itself — which tells time using words, not numbers or a traditional face — seemed unnecessarily gimmicky. I, apparently, wasn’t alone. As the package’s other items got scooped up by colleagues interested in giving them a whirl, the clock remained, until it was one of a few things left to be picked over. Ultimately, I grabbed it, thinking that at the very least it would give my kind-of-sad cubicle a little more personality.
After setting the clock up, I realized it doesn’t just tell time with words, but with complete sentences. And for most of the day it actually doesn’t tell the time, at least not precisely — which is exactly why I’ve grown to love it. Instead of being up-to-the-minute, the clock tells time in five-minute intervals, flashing sentences like “It is ten o’clock,” “It is five minutes to six,” or “It is twenty five minutes past eight,” on its face (which is made up of stenciled letters that light up on a black surface). There is something inherently calming about this; even if I know I am running behind or anxious about an upcoming meeting, the clock’s way of keeping time and its soothing display induce less stress than looking at my watch (which is somehow always behind) or the accurate time on my computer screen or phone. Don’t get me wrong, I still appreciate a precise record of time — like when Below Deck tells me that Hannah was cleaning up a White Party until 2:07 a.m., or the J-train countdown clock tells me the subway is one minute away (even if it is usually wrong). But during already harried work days, it’s nice to be able to keep track of time at a pace that feels slightly more leisurely.
Aside from my actually liking the clock, another funny thing happened after I set it up: Many of those coworkers who initially passed on it came over to my cube to compliment it. I too have grown to appreciate the way it looks, although I would say it’s definitely more of a desk or home-office accessory than anything I’d hang in a living space (in part because it is powered by USB and does not come with a wall charger, so you have to plug it into a port). But that’s not a bad thing — because a stressful office is where the clock comes most in handy.
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