ganley.org -> Writing -> Swatch

Swatch

When I was in college, I had a clear Swatch (click at your own peril; as of this writing, their site is annoying as hell). Being a geek, I've always loved electronics with clear cases, and back in the late 80's, every damned thing wasn't available in clear, so this was quite a novelty. I loved it.

At the same time, I owned a Chevy Vega. This was a fine car, but you needed to make damned sure you kept the oil topped off, as they had a tendency if they ran low on oil for, ahem, bad things to happen. (Given that people are less than fanatical about maintaining their cars, this led to the Vega's eventual demise.) I was visiting a friend in upstate New York, preparing to drive back down to my parents' place in Arlington, Virginia -- a drive of about 400 miles -- so I dutifully checked my oil before I left. In the Vega, you had to stick your arm way down in the engine to grab the oil dipstick, so I took off my watch and set it on top of the engine block, so as not to soil it with engine goo. The oil was fine, so I shut the hood and went on my way.

Back in Arlington, I was distressed to find that I couldn't find my watch (by now you see where this is going). I've been back for a couple of days, and done a bit of driving around town in addition to the 400 miles from New York, so it occurred to me that it was probably time to check the oil level again. I open the hood, and there on top of the engine block was my watch. Somehow, it had sat there for over 400 miles, despite the fact that a Vega engine vibrates like a cheap coin-operated motel bed. It served me well for many more years (the watch, I mean, though the car did too), until eventually it died altogether, whereupon I traded it to a guy in Africa for some jewelry. The car, after carrying me around 70,000 miles with no major repairs (the most major one was a blown water pump that eventually led to my marriage to Cathy, but that's another story), I sold for 50% more than I had paid for it. They don't make them like that any more, eh?