Monday, March 20, 2006

What Time Is It, Anyway?

I'm remembering all sorts of things that have happened now that I've started the writing process. Like the time the clocks didn't work.

Actually, there are a lot of times the clocks didn't work. Many of you remember school clocks - there's no second hands and the minute hands kind of clicked backwards for a second, then clunked forward (like they needed the momentum to go forward or something). And they're all on one system. So after daylight savings time, all the clocks in the school would be off for an hour until someone in the office reset them, whereupon they would noisily move forward an hour - noisily because they would do that click-clunk thing 60 times in a row to go forward an hour.

Well, I used to be in a portable classroom, which just had a clock run by a battery hanging on the wall. I mean the clock was on the wall. With the battery in it. And I could change that at will. It even had a second hand which was useful. Now that I'm in a 'real' classroom I'm at the mercy of whatever central Big Brother clock system exists. A disclaimer before the rest of this story: I am not entirely sure how much of the part I did not witness is rumor and how much is true. I don't want to be sued by a disgruntled clock guy. You'll see.

The electricity went out a couple of months into the school year. It went out for three hours and they wouldn't let us send the kids home even though it was way dark outside, but that's another story. The long term problem now was that the clocks were wrong. Now, one might think that the clocks will be reset after a problem like that, but one would be wrong. The clocks were about three hours behind. The minute hand was close to correct though, so we just added three hours - at 8:25 it was lunchtime, at 11:50 the kids get ready to go home, etc.

Then the minute hand got off. I don't remember if the electricity went out again or if someone attempted to fix the clocks and they got worse, but now there was no correlation at all. We were trying to add three hours and 26 minutes or something like that, which is just too much brainpower for someone trying to deal with 20 children in a room.

By this time, our secretary (who is AMAZING and saves our lives approximately 7 times a day. Each.), has put in numerous work orders for "the clock guy" from the district to come reset the clocks. No one at any of the school sites knows how to do it. Well, apparently, the clock guy retired. And no one else in the whole district knew how to do his job. The rumor is that he was mad because he was forced to take early retirement or some program got cut or something so he was rebelling by taking his clock knowledge (and his toys) and going home. No idea if that's true, but it is just strange enough to be possible. So no one knew how to reset the clocks. And when someone finally learned (don't know if the clock guy repented or someone figured it out on their own), they had about 40 schools to go to, and there was only one new clock guy. We finally got the time changed but for weeks, you heard from kids (who don't have much of a concept of time anyway), "Teacher it's 8:30, it's time to go to lunch!" "It's 6:20, does that mean it's time to go home?"

Lesson 1: Schools are not businesses. Anyone who's surprised at the inefficiency of having only one person who knows how to set clocks has NOT worked in a public school.

Lesson 2: Anyone of my generation who went to school in the US knows exactly what I mean by the click-clunk sound of the ubiquitous school clocks.

Lesson 3: Never piss off the clock guy. He has more power than you think.


jessamynit said...

I remember that click-clunk. sometimes it would get stuck on the back click... and you'd wait... and wait... ugh.

sucks when the bells are all off, too.

Anonymous said...

I used to get through AP Physics by counting the click-clunks. That may be why I failed AP Physics and became a linguist.