Saturday, July 28, 2007

Leaving Well Enough Alone

I can't do it.

I'm one of those people who has to poke and pick at everything. From the time I was crawling, I made my Mom nuts because I picked apart anything I could dig my prying little fingers into. Fortunately, I always had an empathy for animals, so I never tried to take a critter apart, but plants were not safe.

One of my favorite dismantling memories was my Big Ben alarm clock. Ever taken the back of one of those off?

When I took the last screw out and eased the back off, I saw a confusing bunch of gears with a big spring in the middle. I poked it. It sprung. Scared the beejeebers out of me.

What scared me even more was my Mom finding out I'd done it again. She had real trouble distinguishing between intellectual curiosity and wanton destructiveness.

I couldn't figure out, for the life of me, how the heck they got that huge spring into that little case. I rolled it up as tightly as I could and tried to wedge it back into the case. All I succeeded in doing was knocking a couple of things I didn't know what they were out.

Finally, holding the clock between my feet so I'd have both hands free, I managed to stuff everything back into the case and got the back screwed on. It didn't look quite right, but it was subtle enough I didn't think an unsuspecting parent would guess I'd transgressed again. And I knew the subject would come up, because the darn clock sure didn't work any more.

Even in those days, Big Ben alarm clocks were too cheap to be worth trying to fix. All I got was a suspiciously raised eyebrow from my Dad when I told him that it didn't wind right any more and a new, electric alarm clock.

Which I never did try to take apart.

A couple of decades later, I found out that a lawnmower starter cord is attached to a spring that's almost identical to the one in a Big Ben alarm clock -- only bigger. And just about as hard to put back in.


bioephemera said...

I still have my dad's Big Ben alarm clock! I don't think it works, though. I was telling someone just this past weekend that if I'd only had someone to teach me how mechanical things work, I'd have dismantled all my own clocks. But I was never confident enough to do it without guidance.

Wunx~ said...

You area a wiser woman than I am Gunga Dinn. I can pull apart and repair many mechanical things, even got the lawnmower working again, but I will never try a mechanical clock again (unless it's already dead so it doesn't matter -- a disection instead of a vivisection.)