01 December 2014

oh, alarm clocks

It is cold and it is dark; my first thought this morning when the alarm went off was the very obvious and very predictable, 'But I don't want to go to work!'

This is how it always is after any longer-than-a-weekend time off. Your body has gotten used to not waking up to an alarm, and no matter how early you go to bed the night before, you will whine just a little when the alarm goes off.

And have you noticed that we try to make our alarms sound so pleasant now? There are many options on cell phones: ocean waves, birds singing, gentle guitars as if you had hired a troubadour troop to creepily sneak into your bedroom and wake you up.

If the alarm is sweet and natural, perhaps waking will be sweet and natural, the reasoning seems to be.

But who are we kidding? In reality, alarms should be jarring, and the more shocking, the better—the blare that sounds like a nuclear apocalypse is coming, the crackly static of the local AM station, the clanging din of those now retro but once iconic alarm clocks.

Or maybe they should guilt you out of bed by saying, "You have to get up. You have responsibilities. You have to get up. How will the dog eat without you? You have to get up if you want to pay your mortgage."

Any of those would work better than these dulcet awakenings we have now—sounds that make me want to do nothing but stay in bed. That was my second thought this morning: how to make alarm clocks better.

By the time I turned off my own alarm—a bright beeping on my running watch—I was ready to conquer the cold and the dark. I mean, even in my half-asleep, half-formed-thoughts state, I had come up with a guilt-inducing alarm clock that would prey on Americans' work ethic and competitiveness: What could I achieve when I got out of bed?

(And that is the question that keeps us going, even when it's so cold and dark.)

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