First Person Singular

(Mike Morgan - For The Washington Post)
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Sunday, August 3, 2008

NINETY PERCENT OF WHAT PEOPLE PAY to fix a clock is emotional. People are very attached to their clocks. Last week, a lady came in to pick up her clock and just started talking to it, just as if it were a dog. Another gal, she brought in her grandmother's clock. It was all she had of her grandmother's, and she'd never heard it run. When she came to pick it up, saw that clock on the wall, heard it ticking and cuckoo -- big smile, big grin. I get paid more than money.

Some clocks can't be saved or can't be saved for the amount people are willing to pay. I feel sort of guilty about it, but I'm not in the business to keep little old ladies happy. This one lady, she was very upset when she heard how much. She said, "Oh, they gave it to us for our wedding," and it reminded her of her husband, who was dead. And she was going to take it home and hang it on the wall where it could always remind her of their wedding day.

I spent 35 years in the government and never had to interact with the public. And now I got all these people hauling clocks into my basement and telling me all these strange stories. I don't get too much into the emotions. Sure, I yell and cuss at the clocks. Like the one I'm working on now, I can't figure out how to make it run -- I want to take it out and run over it with a car. That's why most clockmakers don't want to work with cuckoo clocks. They're so erratic, so temperamental. That's good business for me, but they can be a real pain in the butt.

I'll probably die before I quit, at least that's what I hope. My dad had Parkinson's. My older brother has it. So I'm a little worried about how much more time there's left before it catches me.

Interview by Amanda Long


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