Little Man

Richard and I still have the very first Christmas present we received as newlyweds in 1980.  It was a voice clock, a Micronta VOX Clock 2.   All this 3″ X 3″ cube did was announce time.   It did not come with software to synchronize with my computer. The man’s voice or language could not be modified and we could not program multiple time zones.  Today, this model cannot be found on the Internet.  A technological antique really.

I qualify this as our “very first” Christmas present because at the precise moment when the Eve became Christmas Morn, a muffled male voice announced “It is 12 AM. It is now 12 AM.” This was followed by a tune (too-roo-roo-ra-roo) and a chopstick parody of notes.  By the time we rushed out of bed to investigate, the mystery man was quiet.

The intrusive voice was forgotten when we opened our Christmas presents a few hours later.  We were four-month newlyweds, so Christmas gifts to and from each other were our main focus.  I received lots of presents from Richard, the most memorable of which is a unicorn that I still treasure.

Eventually we got to a little square wrapped box that contained the clock.  We weren’t quite sure what to do with this somewhat odd gift, but the first thing we did was reset the alarm to 6AM.  No more midnight alerts!

This clock can be also be used as a timer and stopwatch.  However, the symbols are pre-user friendly and are impossible to see without a magnifying glass.  Plus, if you read the instructions, there are many “ping”-based instructions that I have yet to master.

Its Richard’s job to change the battery, and he’s only done it four times in 30 years.  Each time, we need to look for the folded sheet of unintelligible instructions that are literal word-for-word translations from an unknown country.

I eventually called the clock “Little Man” just because he was always around. When we lived in Hawaii and Richard went on his daily five-mile run at 3:45 AM, by the time Little Man woke me at 6AM, Richard had returned and was taking his shower.  I then awoke and prepared lunch for our son Marco. Later, when Marco was eleven and had a newspaper route in our two-tower condominium complex, by the time the Little Man announced 6AM, Marco was in the shower getting ready for school.

In addition to a 6 AM alarm, Little Man is set up to announce each hour.  So in the middle of night, we know when it’s 1 AM, 2 AM, 3 AM . . . On insomniac nights, I know how long I need to wait before the sun relieves darkness.  When Marco was a teenager, Little Man kept me company during early morning hours while I waited to hear his key at our front door.

I didn’t hear the Little Man when I started going to the gym at 5:30 for morning cycle spinning classes, but I occasionally I pushed his button when I came home and he’d tell me the time. Usually he said, “It’s 7:15 AM,” or thereabouts.  When Marco moved to Boston for college, Little Man was the only morning voice in the apartment while Richard was on his run.

When we moved from Hawaii to Texas in 2005, I told Richard I felt sorry for Little Man. For a couple of weeks, he would announce the hour and the 6 AM alarm to apathetic companions in a cargo container on a barge crossing the Pacific Ocean.

Today, Little Man is a beacon for our dogs. When he announces “It’s 6 AM.  It’s now 6 AM,” and he croons too-ra-roo-ra-roo, Niko and Titus start to wake.  Richard goes downstairs, Titus does his morning shake, and he follows Richard for morning exercises.  Eventually, Niko joins them and they go off for a morning walk.   I hear Little Man announce 7 AM and I start to think about waking up.

When Marco visits, we occasionally put Little Man on the intercom to announce Sunday breakfast.  Marco might be irritated with my nagging, but he certainly would not challenge Little Man!

For over 30 years, Little Man has faithfully announced each hour and our 6 AM alarm.  More precisely, as of today, he has faithfully fulfilled his duty 11,120 days in a row!  Not bad for an antique, don’t you think?

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