Cheapness is not a sense

I’ve spent years NOT spending $15 on a new alarm clock.

I think a lot of us have at least one object in our lives that doesn’t really function at 100% anymore, but we make due with it, and we can’t bring ourselves to part with the necessary cash to buy a replacement.  I come from a place where we pride ourselves on ‘making due’ and not just tossing things out once they show some age – even things that don’t cost an arm and a leg to replace.  It is a point of pride that we will use a thing well past its point of obsolescence.

I’ve owned the same Timex travel-style alarm clock for most of my adult life.  At some point in time – I can no longer pinpoint when – the knob used to set the alarm broke off the back.  This didn’t pose an immediate problem, as I didn’t use that function for a span of several years beginning in August 2004 and ending sometime in 2007.  During that time, I owned first one, and then another alarm clock of the eight-pound-and-squalling variety.  If my babies cried, I got up.  If they didn’t, I stayed horizontal and unconscious.

But now, in 2011, I actually have to set my alarm every morning to get the day started.  For years, I’ve been using a pair of tweezers to grab the little nub of a post left on the back of my clock in order to set the alarm.

It's still good, it's still good!

Here’s where the hard-core avoidance of spending $15 comes into play.  It was one thing not to buy a new clock when I rarely set the alarm and it was merely a mild inconvenience to apply the tweezers once every couple of weeks or so to set the thing.  But in the past few months, I’ve found myself working those tweezers frequently and wondering – why the hell haven’t I bought a new clock?

It’s not that I haven’t considered buying a new one.  I even had one in my hands at Target on more than one occasion.  But I always found a reason to put it back on the shelf – why spend money to get something that I already have?  I’m sure I’ve spent embarrassing sums on a lot less useful things than a working alarm clock in the past four years.  Even so, a new clock seemed like an unreasonable expense when the cost of using the current half-broken one was merely my own inconvenience.

The tipping point finally came this week – I woke up early, but realized I could get another half hour of sleep if I could reset my alarm. I didn’t want to turn on any lights, so I blearily fumbled around in a drawer for my tweezers and stumbled into the kids’ night-lit bathroom to attempt to twist the alarm to a later time.  It’s no surprise that I couldn’t get the plastic nub to move at all – half-consciousness and semi-darkness are not the natural allies of fine motor activity.  I cursed the cheap plastic my hands and the stupidity of having to change a clock in that fashion.

And suddenly, I had total awareness of my own ridiculousness.  It was an epiphany – like hitting cheapness at rock-bottom.  There was no good reason – not a single one – that I couldn’t spend $15 to get myself something that works.

So that’s what I did.  It wasn’t too painful, except that the first clock I brought home was so bright that the nearby airport could have sent jets to land on my lawn by its light.  On the second try, I now have an alarm that wakes me up and can be set without the use of any extra accoutrements.

All I need is a new pair of tweezers to replace the set I’ve dulled by using them to set my alarm.  Look for me to be posting about that in 2015.

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