Evelyn watched the clock tick toward
midnight. Labor negotiations were at an impasse, the union representatives of
the truck drivers refusing to make concessions on pensions, and management not
budging on worker safety. Evelyn was the chief negotiator and had made progress
in bringing the two sides closer together, but it was not enough, and a strike
was called when the clock struck 12.
It was a protracted dispute, and Evelyn
had been working extremely long hours for many days, without success. She was
vilified in the press by politically-minded interests for not being able to
achieve a settlement by the deadline. As the clock clicked past midnight, the
union and management representatives got up to go, due back in 8 hours for a
resumption of negotiations. Evelyns assistant got up and asked if
shed be leaving too to get some sleep.
still need to work out some details in the follow-up plan, said Evelyn
while looking at her watch. Ill catch a few zs
well see you in the morning. said her assistant.
After working a few more minutes, Evelyn
stared at the clock on the conference room wall, and her eyelids grew heavy.
She fell asleep and veered off into a dream:
An old truck was being
driven on a long stretch of desert highway, late at night with the headlights
off. The truck was orange from bumper to bumper, except for a big yellow
question mark painted on the back. There were no speedometers or odometers on
the dashboard, only clocks. Evelyn was in the passenger seat, looking at the
face of the driver, not seeing a mouth, eyes, or nose, but instead the face of
a clock, with the long and short hands clicking from number to number. The
truck pulled off the highway and stopped at a sand dune, where there stood a
hooded figure in a red robe. The figure deposited a Timex watch on top of the
sand dune, declaring, Tick, tick, Evelyn
your time is running out,
how will you choose to live this life?
When Evelyn woke up, she
was in the empty conference room, the clock showing 4 a.m. She got up and
left the negotiating table, never to return, her future ahead of
Evelyn took online classes in
watchmaking, worked as an apprentice, and eventually became a watchmaker. As a
negotiator, she had always been tyrannized by time and deadlines, but when she
was inside the watch, tinkering with its mechanics and ripping up its gears,
she felt in control of time. Evelyn leased office space and opened up a watch
repair shop in a strip mall. Her watch business was instantly successful, and
Evelyn became the go-to person in the area for timepiece mechanization. She
loved what she was doing, and time seemed to fly by.
After several weeks, Nina, the manager
of the nail salon next door, walked into Evelyns watch repair shop.
The owner of the strip mall is trying to renegotiate all of our leases
and is threatening eviction, said Nina, her fingernails stabbing at the
Time is on our side, said
Evelyn, soon using her long-dormant skills as a negotiator to buy time and
stave off eviction. Eventually, she was at the bargaining table with the strip
mall owner, forging a new agreement and lease as the wall clock