It's time

This article appears in the See for Yourself feature series. View the full series.

I was beginning to wonder if anyone purchased replacement watch batteries anymore. It took me stopping at three stores and patrolling around the jewelry cases to find what I was looking for. At store number 3 things were looking bleak, but then two customers moved away from the cash register area and — voila! — there was a display below the counter with packages of watch batteries and replacement watch bands. Bingo! A stuffed animal for the lady, please, because I was in search of a battery and a band — and there they were.

Approaching the display brought me right up to the cashier, and as I looked at the display she said in a kind voice, "Hello. Is there something I can help you find?"

Armed with the small package that the previous battery had come in, I knew the battery number to pick, so I selected it along with a watch band that looked exactly like the old watch in my hand. She said, "Oh, I can change the battery for you as well as the watch band. Would you like me to do that?"

Would I? You bet. I've changed both in watches several times and it's never a smooth process as I struggle to pop off the watch back to change batteries. It also takes several attempts to get the old watch band off and the prongs on the new band lined up just right. I quickly responded, "You'll do both for me? Wow, it's my lucky day. Yes, please."

So the cashier, a woman who was about 25 years old, expertly changed the battery in two swift moves and had the watch band off-then-on in no time as well.

"It's all about the right tools," she said, as she twirled a two-ended pick-type instrument that reminded me of something from a dental office. "When my own watches need attention, I just bring them here because I have all the tools; at home I would struggle and probably wreck the watch."

As she worked she said, "I love your watch and wish I had one like it. I've always wanted one like this in which the sun/moon dial moves behind the face so you see if day or night is approaching. This watch is hard to find." (The watch was a gift from my parents about 30 years ago, and so it's special in many ways.)

I couldn't resist so I asked, "In this age when you can buy a new watch for less than $10, do many people go to the expense of maintaining good watches?"

She smiled and said, "Oh, yes. A good watch will last you for years. If you like the watch, then all the more reason to keep it going. Bands don't last forever, as you're experiencing now, and batteries conk out in a year or so. A good watch takes some care and feeding, but yes, I think there's nothing like a good watch."

As we completed the transaction — $14.91 to be exact — I thanked her again for her kindness. "You're welcome. Enjoy this neat watch. You've inspired me to find one just like it."

[Nancy Linenkugel is a Sylvania Franciscan sister and chair of the department of Health Services Administration at Xavier University, Cincinnati Ohio.]