Working Against The Clock

| Working | November 18, 2014

(I am 15, and I have a cheap digital watch that has stopped working. My dad offers to pay for a replacement battery since he is going to the store to buy a replacement band for my mother’s favorite watch, an old-fashioned wind-up watch that used to belong to her father. There are two people working the jewelry counter at this department store, an older gentleman, who was helping out a family, and a girl maybe two or three years older than I am.)

Dad: “I would like a replacement battery for this watch.” *hands her mine* “…and a black leather band that is the same size as the broken one on this watch” *hands her my mom’s*

(My dad and I start discussing the other stops we need to make, and are not paying attention to the girl behind the counter. My dad glances her way and immediately cries out in surprise since she is jamming a screwdriver into the seam of my mother’s watch trying to pry the back panel off of it.)

Dad: “Wait, what are you doing?!”

Clerk: *surprised at being challenged* “I’m trying to change the battery.”

Dad: “Only the smaller one needs a battery; that one just needs a new band.”

Clerk: *slowly, and condescending* “This one needs a battery, too.”

Dad: “No, it doesn’t. It only needs a band.”

(The clerk turns the watch over and points to the (not running) watch.)

Clerk: “If the little hands on the watch are not moving, it is because the watch needs a new battery.”

(My dad is not known for his patience, so I decide now would be a good time to jump in before something gets broken. The other clerk behind the counter and the family he was with heard enough of the exchange that they were now watching us as well.)

Me: “That watch belonged to my grandfather and was made before batteries were invented.”

Clerk: *sneering* “Well, then, how does it go?”

(I take the watch from her, wind it a couple times, and hand the (now running) watch back to her.)

Clerk: *baffled* “Well… then… how does it go?”

(I explain to her how there is a spring in the watch that you wind up, and as the spring slowly unwinds it powers the watch. At this point the other clerk had finished the transaction for the other family and they all joined us at our end of the counter.)

Clerk: *still not getting it* “But how does it go?”

(The older clerk motions us over his side of the counter where he replaces the band on the watch. The other family (which included children younger than I am, but knew full well that some old watches ran without batteries) begin trying to explain to the younger clerk how a wind-up watch works – she is still obviously not getting it. My dad pays for everything and as we are leaving we heard the young clerk one last time.)

Clerk: “But how does it go?”

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