How Much Is It?

Our apartment is located close to a bus stop with regular bus service throughout the day and evening.  The fee is inexpensive and one can choose from several different routes, e.g. route 165, 65, or 9-7.  The bus my wife usually rides requires one transfer at the city of Guri to reach her final destination at Gildong station.  Because of the numerous bus stops to discharge & pickup passengers, it takes about one & one-quarter hours travel time from our house to my wife’s final bus stop.  At Gildong station she disembarks and walks about 10 minutes the rest of the way to her sister’s 4th floor, one bedroom apartment.  Her sister’s apartment is located in the Southeastern part of Seoul, the nation’s capital & largest city.  Out of a population of 48,000,000, just under one-quarter of the population of South Korea  lives in the city of Seoul ( city limits pop. 10+ million).

Shortly after my wife’s arrival, she and her sister went shopping at the open market nearby.  After purchasing a few items, they began their leisurely walk back home.  During their return trip, they came across a discarded Koreanna wall clock that someone had put outside for the trash man.  My wife picked it up, and after a quick inspection decided to take possession of it.  She quickly wiped off the excess dust and placed it inside her cloth bag.  After her visit ended with her sister, she carried the thrown away clock home.

Returning home that evening she took the clock out of her shopping bag and showed it to me.  Inspecting the clock I noticed some old, thick dust in crevices that indicated it had been stored away for some time and neglected.  The Rhythm Watch Company of Japan manufactured the quartz works assembly, the brains of the clock, and encased it inside a small black box.  The clock company located the black box made of plastic smack dab in the middle of the clock’s backside, and set it squarely inside a cutout (see picture).

A replaceable AA battery provides the power for the clock.  the backside of the octagon shaped clock is covered by pressed wood, light tan in color, fastened to the wooden frame by three very small screws.  The back contains a round hole at the top for hanging and three small, rubber bumper pads for cushioning the clock from the wall.  The clock has been cleaned-up so one can see what a little cleaning can accomplish.

THE PROBLEM:  The quartz works assembly had slipped from its connection to the shaft and became loose, which caused the hands of the clock to slant slightly in its trip around the clock’s face.  The hour hand suffered most from this slant since it was closest to the clock face.  In order for the hour hand to make a round trip without becoming stuck, it needed to be the same distance from the clock’s face during its whole trip.  After some trial & error I figured out if one turns the black box inside the cutout, the edges of it became wedged.  The wedging kept the hands stabile and allowed a crude method of manually adjusting the hour hand’s distance from the face by pushing down on the corners of the black box.  With some difficulty and after several trials, I managed to adjust the hour hand to run smoothly around the clock without sticking.  The clock kept perfect time, but an accidental bump or the slightest slip of the wedged black box might cause the hour hand to move out of tolerance and stick again to the clock’s face.  This situation proved very unsatisfactory and inconvenient.  Something had to be done.

At around ten o’clock Saturday morning, February 28, 2009 I walked to a jewelry shop in downtown Pyeongnae with my clock tucked away in my shopping bag.  I spoke only few words of Korean, but I knew by showing the proprietor my clock and the loose hands and say the Korean words, ko-ch’yeo-yo (to repair), he’d get the idea.  I walked into the store and noticed the many expensive clocks hanging upon his office wall and almost walked out before saying anything, afraid he would be too expensive for my taste and charge more than I’d be willing to pay.  As I hesitated some more by continuing to look at the clocks, I said, “You have a lot of nice clocks on the wall.  I have an inexpensive one in my bag.  It needs fixing and I don’t know if you would be willing to take a look at it or not?”  I am sure he didn’t understand me.  Before I could say anything else, he took my bag and lifted the clock out and I uttered the Korean word that I practiced while walking to the store.  He took a small screwdriver out of his drawer and began to go to work.

In about 20 minutes he removed and reattached the three screws holding the back of the clock and the three screws attaching the face to the the clock frame.  He removed the hands and reattached them to the shaft after some intricate tightening.  He tightened the quartz works assembly to the shaft at some point in his repair.  Watching the owner work on my quartz clock and remembering the centuries-old mechanical clocks full of jewels, small gears, springs, and supports filled me with admiration for our forefathers’ skills and craftsmanship in making their beautiful time pieces.  Today’s black, plastic box shrouding the quartz works assembly looks empty and uninspiring when compared to the inner workings and beauty of the old mechanical clocks.

When done I asked him, “Eol-ma-ye-yo?” (How muchPicture 19 is it?).  He asked for 3,000 won, which is equivalent to $2.00 in United States currency.  I was very pleased; I didn’t argue at all.  As I walked home I thought, “I now have a nice wall clock for a cost of $2.00 and the benefit of exercising my executive skills and my body.”  Economic prosperity provides an opportunity for those who have and for those like me who have not.  garland dale

P.S.  If you look hard at the picture, you can see where the hour hand rubbed the face from 9 to 2.

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2 Responses to How Much Is It?

  1. Danny says:

    Great adventure dad!

  2. nani says:

    I like this dad 🙂 It reminds me of the time you fixed my door at the old apartment while I was in school. You and mom are both resourceful.

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