Monday, August 13, 2007

ODO the Odometer

This morning, after I settled my dog in the back seat and started my Toyota Yaris on the way to our morning run (the dog and I go for the run, not the car, which simply waits for us patiently), the dashboard displayed a character I hadn’t seen before—ODO.

ODO stood there, his hand on his hip, the other pointing to the gas gauge, directly at the half-full point.

Now, I DID appreciate the heads up, as I generally strive to keep the car’s tank at least half full, but this was the first time I’d seen ODO. Granted, at 11,709 miles the vehicle is still somewhat new to me, and the fuel gauge, built from eight dark bars piled atop one another that suddenly disappear as the fuel is spent, does take some getting used to. I actually prefer the old gauges, as the dark bars can vary from 30 to 80 miles traveled, but still, I thought I had adjusted.

I took another sip of coffee. I’m a morning person, but as I also tend to work late and too much, I’ve learned from teaching many eight o’clock classes that a little more coffee can work wonders.

Then I took a closer look. I collect bills on the dash, just under the center-mounted display assembly, so that I remember to pay them promptly. Reflected on the display’s clear plastic was the “Printed on recycled paper” logo from my phone bill, the logo neatly forming ODO’s head atop the image of a gas pump, the nozzle and hose forming ODO’s hand on his hip, the dark triangle indicating the midpoint of the gas gauge suggesting ODO’s other hand, pointing to the half-full tank. His name appeared to the right, just over the digital mileage.

This is not the first time something like this has happened.

One night, not long before midnight (as I discovered later—and a very late hour for me), I was suddenly awakened, and slowly focusing my eyes, glanced at the digital display of my alarm clock.

Alarm indeed. The display read “hE:ll.” Huh? While used to the tyranny of time, this was the first time a timepiece had been so poignant about it. Then, less than a minute later, the display changed to “SE:ll.” Now, I do have some investments, but they are primarily in mutual funds in my 403(b) and Roth IRA accounts, not instruments I need to anxiously track as a day trader. Still, all investments entail risk, and I was moved that my clock felt so strongly that it took the time to wake and warn me.

Just one minute later, the display warned “9E:ll.” I didn’t understand, but I was slowly moving from groggy sleep brain to thinking, waking brain. When the display changed to “LE:ll,” I sat up to examine the clock, and by “8E:ll,” I realized that one or both cats had raced through the room, overturning the digital clock (and disturbing my sleep). Since neither cat knows much about finanacial markets (indeed, they can't even SPE:ll), at 11:39, I righted the alarm, and by 11:40, I was drifting back to sleep.

I am comforted, though, knowing my clock (and my cats) would take the trouble to warn me in the case of a financial emergency. No doubt it’s taken its successful sentinel role rousing me each morning (not to mention the cats) to heart, and seeks to expand its responsibilities. No harm in hard working ambition!

However, I’m often not at home—and frequently in my car. Nice to know ODO will be looking after me during those times.


1 comment:

Lisa McGlaun said...

That's so cute. Did you ever play with a calculator as a child and turn it upside down to see what words you could spell? hell was one of the favorites and I remember how a bunch of us third graders would disolve into a fit of laughter and snickering.

How funny.