Sunday, May 16, 2010

Clock radio dilemma

The following appeared in my notebook, in my handwriting. I don't remember writing it, very much ... it's the sort of partial story that bypasses my mind and goes straight to the page sometimes.

"The clock radio had never worked. It should have gone straight from its squeaky styrofoam delivery coffin to the trashbin. But she'd struggled with the settings, even used a magnifying glass to increase the incomprehensibly bad translation from the Chinese (Taiwanese?) to try and figure the impossible. It went off at 3:00 a.m. the first morning - possibly some homage to the time of day a near-indentured factory worker had to rise to get to a 12-hour a day manufacturing job ... making hundreds more plastic throwaways for someone half a world away. The radio began changing channels randomly, alternating between a.m. and f.m. stations never heard in her all CBC household. And it alternated awakenings between radio and emergency vehicle siren. After 2 weeks she began to awaken, consistently, about 5 minutes before the 6:30 wake up they'd settled on. She wondered why she didn't throw it out - more specifically why she didn't climb onto the roof and hurl it to the road below. But she didn't. She kept flipping the radio set-switch, expecting it to work properly ... denying that not only did it not begin the morning at the correct time, but that when she wanted to play music at other times of the day she had to click the switch one level up past 'play', then click down two notches below then go back to 'play'. She wasn't quite sure when she'd noticed that this was a consistent quirk.
"A big part of the problem was the 21st century dilemma of how and where to throw out the damned radio. Documentary voices nagged her. 'Stuff like this can't just go in the trash.' What electronic parts or circuit parts were in there? Would it eventually end up in some Chinese village, being dismantled by a bare-handed, unmasked 10 year old girl? Then fed into a continually smoldering fire to recover whatever metal has value - by that same child whose life expectancy drops by a day for every trashed radio she drops into the flames? Given the number of former radios, circuit boards, small appliances that are discarded, is life expectancy a negative number in those small dis-manufacturing villages that get onto the TVO documentaries?
"How to throw something out? ... that is the contemporary question. Whether 'twas nobler and easier forty years ago when everyone simply didn't know about toxic waste or health hazard?'

There is nothing noble ... and there is no ease in this ... then or now.

Why's Woman

No comments: