Skip to content

CHEWING THE FAT: Clock watchers know how to tick off people

Our world, in many ways, seems to be ruled by time and clocks are the critical instrument - whether we like it or not, columnist says
110818-daylight saving time-time change-clock-AdobeStock_193287409

My Dad has been gone now for over 40 years, and I’ll remember him for many wonderful reasons.

He had an incredible work ethic and tried to instill the same in me. I don’t believe I ever passed my father’s litmus test. I always thought I excelled much better as foreman than that of a labourer. The only calluses I wanted on my hands was from playing the guitar, and not from using a round mouth shovel.

“A clock watcher is not a top notcher.”

My dear old Dad had a lot of unique sayings like this tucked away in his “old noggin.”

When Dad released one of these verbal treasures, I knew the “message of the saying” was really directed at me. I confess that I was never the brightest light in the harbour, but my Dad had a special way of getting his point across.

One of his favourites sayings was the above quote whenever the topic of work came up. The message was simple and to the point.

“A clock watcher is not a top notcher” applied to any worker who constantly looked at his watch wondering when their next coffee break would be, or to see how close it was to going home time. These people were definitely not a top notcher. In my Dad’s mind this was always a big red flag.

Clocks have always brought a degree of fascination to me.

As I sit here writing this column, I’m situated at our kitchen table facing our living room. I have just counted seven time-pieces in front of me. In our previous house there was a spot in our livingroom where I could see 17 clocks.

If I’ve been asked once, I’ve been asked a hundred times why I have all these clocks. Here’s the answer. I’m sure that every reader of this article has experienced times when you’ve had company come, and they don’t know when to go home at a reasonable hour.

As the hour gets late, they’ll finally look at their watch, and the man will say to his wife, “Mildred, look at the time, we better go home and let these dear folks get to bed.”

Well, this problem never happens at our house anymore after I started collecting so many clocks. Everywhere you look in our home, you’ll see many time pieces that constantly remind company that it’s time to say goodnight.

The secret is to have very loud chimes on your clocks. As I enter this part of my story of having so many clocks, I find myself singing “I’ve got big ones, small ones, some the size of your head...” 

When people ask my wife how I’m doing, she says a classy line, “Rusty is just like an old clock, he has a wonderful tick, but he toks too much.” I know you don’t buy into that statement do you?

I recall a time almost 40 years ago, when we would often have a man show up most Thursday nights for a short visit. He was a lovely man who could talk up a storm, but he didn’t know enough to go home at a decent hour.

This was in the day when I was living in Gravenhurst but was working in Orillia at the radio station. My alarm clock would sound its irritating ring at 4:30 a.m.

This particular night my wife and kids had long gone to bed, but this in itself wasn’t enough of a hint for my talkative friend to leave. Fighting to keep my eyes open I knew I had to hit the sheets. I eventually said, “Cecil, I’m going to bed, you can stay as long as you want, but when you leave, please shut the lights off.”

I never had a problem with Cecil after that.

Here’s a few clock statistics I know you’re dying to hear. Try to keep your excitement contained.

The clock is considered one of the oldest human inventions. About 400 years ago, Galileo Galilei was sitting in church one evening and saw a man swinging a lantern. This prodded his thinking to invent the pendulum clock to accurately measure time. (Wow, I told you this would be exciting.)

Brace yourself, here’s another one! Before the invention of alarm clocks there was a profession called a “knocker-upper” (I kid you not). This fella’s job was to go around and knock on your door until you got up.

Another stat: There’s an institute in Colorado that has created a clock so accurate it won’t gain or lose a second in 20 million years. This is the clock used for internet time.

OK, just one more. Somewhere in the 18th century, Great Britain put a hefty tax-grab on the purchase of clocks. It was called the “Parliament Clock Tax.”

People were rightfully ticked off big time, and demonstrated their anger by not purchasing clocks and watches. This literally put clockmakers out of business. It had such a negative impact that within a year the tax was removed.

Did you know that all ducks get up at the same time? Yep, right at the “quack of dawn.” I know, I should have quit while I was ahead.

Well, my friends, it’s now the midnight hour and time for me to say good night. Oh, how I love hearing all my chimes ringing in unison. Now if I could only convince my neighbours in our condo to have the same appreciation for them.

Rusty Draper is well-known by many as the long-time morning man at local radio station CFOR, as a pastor and raconteur who never misses an opportunity to chew the fat.