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Hidemi Woods 

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.515

Before I began to replace a wristwatch battery by myself, I used to visit a small mom-and-pop clock shop. It was diffidently situated in a nook of a supermarket. Although the supermarket had fairly many shoppers around, they just walked past the clock shop and seldom got in. The shop looked near deserted and I often saw an old couple who kept the shop nodding off over the counter. The old man was a typical bull-headed craftsman. He never pitched or chatted friendly to the customer, but worked on a watch intensely and precisely. All his tools looked as old as he himself was, having used for who knew how many years. Every watch of mine I brought there was a cheap one, and yet he treated them as if they were high-end watches. One of my wristwatches has a peculiar-shaped lid and when I brought it in for a battery change, he closed the lid with his own hands by taking ten minutes since his tool was too old to deal with the shape. When I brought in an apparently broken wristwatch, he poured a mysterious liquid inside the watch and dried it with the ceiling light by standing on the chair to reach up the light for ten minutes. The watch started ticking again magically and has been in top shape since then. I had never left the counter during his work because I liked to look at it so much. Everything he was doing to a watch attracted me immensely. I would even gaze at a simple battery change with fascination. He would use a wearable loupe, clean the lid with a tiny brush, open it, take out an old battery with tweezers, bring a new one from behind the curtain, engrave the date on the battery so that he could evaluate its duration on the next change, put it in, close the lid with his old tool and set the time with his wristwatch. Sometimes he found a tattered water-repellent rubber ring inside my watch but he never pressed me into buying a new one. He just picked up torn pieces with his tweezers and put them back in as they had been. His most strict instruction to keep watches was to separate them from appliances at least ten feet. It’s difficult in my small apartment but I still keep my watches as far from appliances as possible. He also told me repeatedly not to place a watch close to a cell phone. I’ve changed my wrist to wear a watch to my right, as I use a cell phone with my left hand. Eventually I moved too far away from the shop and couldn’t visit any more. And I started replacing a battery by myself. I mimic his battery change with much more primitive tools. Probably I liked to see his work because of his passion and earnestness for a watch. I wonder how he’s doing and miss him…

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