Every weekday for the past 10 years I have woken up to the sweet strumming of the alarm clock on my phone. With my alarm clock set, I can look forward to my stellar nightly REM sesh. Except that I rarely have a good one of those. Confession time, I suffer from chronic cliché nightmares that revolve around me showing up to work without pants on. Don’t laugh. It’s a serious condition. As if the partially nude aspect of the dream wasn’t enough, in the dream I am additionally always running late to school or work. I understand why I experience these types of dreams.

Psychologists say that dreams often reflect the things we think about and fear daily. I have never forgotten to put on pants so I’m not 100% sure how that works into this philosophy, but in real life I am a type-A person. I like the idea of control. I’ve accepted that there are many things I can’t control, one of them being time, but I can control how I act within it. I can decide if I want to be early, on time or late to any given event. Being late to work is not an option. I have my morning routine down to a science so that I am never late. My secret weapon? Duh, the alarm clock on my phone. Every night before I get into bed I triple check that my weekday phone alarm is still set for 6:45am and confirm that at no point during the day did my phone grow a brain of its own and turn off my alarm just to screw with me.

At 12am this morning, I powered down my cell phone, closed my laptop and said a quick prayer to the technology gods asking them to have mercy on my soul this week. With a deep sigh, I began getting ready for bed. It was pouring out when I got into bed and the symphony of raindrops hitting the window sang me to sleep. Almost. I reached for my phone to check my alarm and when I remembered it wasn’t there I jolted up into an L-shaped position. Houston, we have a problem. How could I have overlooked this? I mean, remembered to get quarters in case I need to use a payphone, which exist in nowheresville, but I forgot to invest in an actual alarm clock!

I went on a frantic Tasmanian-Devil-like search throughout the house and luckily found one in our guest bedroom. I yanked the chord out of the wall and ran up the stairs cradling the clock like it was the football in the final play Super Bowl. Now, where to plug it in? Half of my outlets were already occupied, but there was one top outlet available. I plugged the clock in and boom! Dim, red 12:00 started flashing on the clock. I turned off the lights and got into bed to see if the numbers on the clock were visible, but by the time I got into bed the numbers had disappeared. I got out of bed, flipped on the light switch and when I looked back at the clock and there the numbers were, flashing again. So I turned off the lights, got back into bed and abra freaking cadabra they were gone again! Fail. Now I’m sure many of you have already figured this out, but it took dumb dumb over here three rounds of this frustrating game to realize that my top outlets are controlled by the light switch. In the end, I sacrificed another device’s bottom outlet for my clock.

The clock had a new home and now I just had to set the time and alarm. On top of the clock were four buttons: “Time”, “Alarm”, “Fast”, “Slow”. I thought it was awfully peculiar to have buttons that said fast and slow but I got the gist of how this was going to work. I set the time first. The clock read 12:10 am but it was really 12:46am. Not wanting it to Speedy Gonzalez past the 12:46 mark only to go through 12 more hours’ worth of numbers, I simultaneously held down the “time” button and the “slow” button, but nothing happened. I took my fingers off of the buttons and tried again. Still, nothing. Maybe the “slow” button was broken, so I held down “time” and “fast”. Nope, nada. Now sitting cross legged on the floor next to my bed, I brought the clock up to my eye level and looked at it quizzically, never removing my fingers from the buttons. The clock turned to 12:11.

I took a deep breath and tried again, this time holding down the “alarm” button. I clicked and clicked switching back and forth from the “fast” and “slow” buttons but to no avail, so I gave it a light shake. I don’t know what gave me this idea but at some point in my life I was convinced that if you shake a machine it’ll work. I pushed the buttons again and obviously nothing changed, so I shook it a bit harder. Nothing. All I wanted to do was go to sleep. Speaking of sleep, that was the one labeled button I had not tried pushing yet. I knew it wasn’t going to help me with setting the time, but like a four year old in an elevator, I couldn’t help but push ALL of the buttons. Well, something happened. Mariachi music came screaming out of the devil machine. I guess someone has set the radio station to a spanish speaking music station.

Not knowing how to turn the music off, I once again, I brought the clock to my eye-level and sneered at the plastic screen. Then suddenly, click: 12:12. Oh now it was on like donkey kong. With the music blasting, I frantically smashed down on the buttons, shook the clock above my head, in front of me, to the side, hit it up against the wall, and then pushed the buttons again. I put the clock back on the ground panting. Click: 12:13. I was defeated and assumed the fetal position and lets the mariachi music flow through me. What’s a type A girl to do? How could this circa 1992 alarm be outsmarting me?

“Sara?” I heard a voice say behind me. It was my father. “What are you doing?” Embarrassed beyond belief, I explained that I couldn’t figure out how to set the clock and he graciously lent me the clock he bought and mastered years ago. He brought it into my room; set the correct time and the alarm to 6:45am. Calmed by having an alarm, I was finally able to get into bed. As I lied there listening once again to the rain tapping on the window, all I could think was: this is going to be a long week.

You can read more from Sara Rucker on her blog.

(Image via Shutterstock).