“What’s the point of a watch, Evan?” I would receive this question constantly in elementary. Only a few of the other kids wore watches. “What do you mean?” I would ask. “It’s to tell the time, obviously.” I would answer. No one seemed to understand why it was so important to me. “Why don’t you just look at the clock?” I would receive in response. “But why should I do that when I have the time right on my wrist?” I would reply. Besides, it provides a sense of control. If you know what time it is, you can act according to that. If you pay attention you can figure out when things happen every day and plan around it. School starts at 7:30, ends at 2:30, recess ended in elementary at 12:30, but the recess ladies wanted everyone to line up at 12:27 every day. I knew this and was always ready every day.
There’s nothing wrong with someone checking the time. In fact knowing the time allows you to be prepared. How often would someone get in trouble for trying to figure out the time? I once managed to get in trouble for doing this simple action. It was outside at recess, 5th grade. The lunchroom had doors that led directly out to the playground. This playground suffers from radical weather. In winter it freezes completely, with snow piled everywhere. In the summer, the blacktop pathways surrounding the play area made it even hotter than it has to be. Where the powerful sun beats down with all its force, there’s the basketball court, also made of blacktop, and the field, just dirt and grass, and the actual play area, with mulch and equipment. The border of the basketball court and the play area was a few wooden tables. These tables were about as close as you were going to get to being in the center of the entire recess area and provided a view of everything. These tables are inhabited by the 2 or 3 recess ladies. Almost every single time you think of a recess lady, you think of an older lady. One fit this description and the other was probably somewhere close to half or two-thirds her age. The older one was the mean one. She was an evil monster that preyed on the tiniest mistakes of a young child. She was large but short. She was scarier than the principal. She was loud; she had her whistle she blew so people know to line up. She even wore a watch, small and silver which must have been impossible to read in the blazing sun considering the glare it would flash back. And she was the one that usually dealt with troublemakers.
I can remember my first time wearing a watch was in kindergarten. A small blue watch that had spiderman on it. Said nothing on it but the time. I found it to be annoying, and its time was off by a few minutes anyway, so I stopped wearing that watch. I have no idea what happened to it. In about 3rd grade I began to wear a watch again and actively used it. This same watch is the one I made it into 5th grade with. It was a small digital watch that used velcro to fasten onto the wrist. It was blue and black mostly with a silver metal bottom. It had 4 buttons, one on each corner, which were black. Naturally with something that I wear every day I gained a connection to it. Really just any watch which I wore often. So if I was nervous, I would constantly look at it. If I was bored I’d mess with its stopwatch. It was something that made me comfortable. Now what doesn’t make me comfortable is recess ladies who are angry at your for something you aren’t really doing. Though it all started when a friend and I, Al, came up with a simple game. It involved a ball, usually a basketball, and two people. It also involved a basketball hoop and some way of determining a border. If the other person failed to catch the ball, they had to land it in the basketball hoop. Near where we played this was another kid who liked to hang out around there. Whenever the ball went near him and we went to get it, we invited him to join. Eventually he had enough of us. He decided to go to the recess ladies and get us to stop bullying him. But we weren’t really bullying him to begin with, just inviting him to play.
So over he goes, since he wasn’t that far away from the recess ladies anyway, and says whatever it is you say when someone asks you to play a game and you don’t like that. And then we hear the “HEY!” and have to go over to them. They can barely contain their anger for us bullying him! “Normally we would have you stand against the wall during this recess and tomorrow’s recess, but since today’s recess is almost over your teacher will find out about this!” she exclaims, probably excited by the fact that some kids were going to get in trouble. We of course had the same teacher. Our side of the story wasn’t asked and she wouldn’t have cared anyway. But since she said recess was almost over, I looked at my watch. Just a quick glance. “What are you looking at your watch for?” she angrily says, probably thinking I was mocking her in some sort. My response is the only logical one I could muster, “to know the time.” That did it. She was having none of that. “Give the watch to me,” she responds, holding her hand out. I didn’t want to do it but knew if I didn’t it would only get worse for me. I handed it over, not knowing when I’d get it back but knowing she’s unhinged. Of course, it was 10 seconds prior to the 12:27, so she started blowing the whistle. Probably harder than usual just to hurt our ears. Everyone lines up and we begin the march inside.
Once inside everyone goes back to their respective classes. But not us. We’re trapped. I’ve already begun to panic considering the loss of my watch and was afraid I’d never get it back. I felt like I was lost without it. They told us to wait in a certain spot while they fetched our teacher. The panic became ingrained even further. Public shaming by being left there, loss of my watch, fear of parents being called, and whatever punishment the teacher would inflict upon us all made us panic. So they go away to find the teacher. I have no idea how long we were there since I didn’t have my watch but it felt like eternity. Eventually they came back and I was expecting a horrible punishment. The recess lady leaves. Our teacher asks for our story. She views it as us accidentally agitating him and all our punishment would be. She then returned my watch to me. My panic goes away. After a quick high five with Al, we return to class.
In the end, this was the first time I learned how important my watch was to me. I was terrified to be without it and felt lost. But once I got it back I felt relief. If I’m ever nervous, I look at my watch. This is a habit I still do, even though it may have gotten me in trouble once. I always have my watch on me. I even look at it if I’m bored. It’s just a part of me that’s always there, and on the rare occasions where I have to get rid of it I find that I still look at my wrist expecting it to be there. I then have to look around and find a clock because once I want to know the time, I have to find it. If I had to choose between a really cheap watch or no watch, I would take the cheap one every time.