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Classical Conditioning?

August 17, 2010

I don’t use a real alarm clock. I use my cell phone. It works.

You see, my phone has an alarm clock application on it, as I’m sure all of your’s do. I first started using this application about halfway through my freshman year of college, which, in other words, was January of 2010.

I should not have done that.

Or, at least, I should have been more meticulous in the sound I chose to wake me up. Why? It doesn’t seem like such an important thing, does it? It’s not a choice that seems all too important, right? I mean, come on, it’s just the sound that will wake you up and get your started on your day.

My friends, I say to you today, your alarm clock’s tone is so much more than that. Let me explain.

We all hate waking up in the morning — and the earlier it gets, the more painful and difficult the act of waking becomes. I know that when I wake up in the morning, I feel a disturbing mixture of anger, hatred, and a strong desire to make someone else feel pain. Opening my eyes is like trying to build Stonehenge with nothing but some elbow grease and a can-do attitude (aka: nothing). Taking off the covers is like being an ill-fated passenger on the Titanic diving into the freezing depths below. And when I take my first steps of the morning, I feel like Frankenstein trying to go snowboarding. It’s not a pleasurable experience.

And it takes a while for that feeling to wear off.

Whenever I set my alarm, my phone would choose the default ringer as the tone that would wake me, and every morning I would wake up to the sound of my ringtone. After a few weeks of this, I discovered something quite tragic … and fascinating. This is how I made my discovery:

I was sitting at lunch with some friends, cell phone in hand.

Suddenly my phone rang, and, inexplicably, I was overcome with an angry, hateful, tired, evil feeling that made no sense. I answered the phone with acid in my voice, and, if I’m being honest, I was very short with my source.

I know, I know, it’s hard to imagine me being anything but cordial at all times. But, hey, we all slip up every once in a while, right?

Back to the story.

I didn’t understand it! How did my mood turn sour so quickly? I shrugged it off. Whatever.

Later that day, I got another phone call, and, once again, I immediately turned into the Crypt Keeper. WHAT WAS HAPPENING?

I still didn’t fully understand until my alarm woke me up the next morning. It was then that enlightenment slapped me in the face and spat on my shirt. That noise — the noise my phone chose for my alarm — was the noise that violently shook me out of my slumber, and forced me, with the iron prod of it’s shrill tone, to get up, get dressed, and get to class.

I had unknowingly conditioned myself to turn from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde at the sound of Verizon Wireless’ signature ring tone.

Of course, since I made that discovery, I’ve tried to reverse it. I’ve changed the tone I wake up to. I’ve even tried simply using a real alarm clock instead. But, even now, whenever I hear that god-forsaken sound, all hell breaks loose within me.

If you’re ever trying to spot me in a crowd, I’m the one that can morph into Satan himself when your grandma calls.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Guhin permalink
    August 17, 2010 11:52 am

    This post contains some of the best similes I’ve ever heard. I just had to awkwardly suppress laughter while reading this gem at work.
    Also, I’ve had a really similar experience. I use vibrate for alarm, phone, and text, and I think it caused me to regard calls and texts as especially urgent and important because of the association with the alarm (or vice versai?)

  2. Elizabeth permalink
    August 17, 2010 11:59 am

    I downloaded an app so that I could set my alarm clock to a song. Now I change it every week, so it’s not so horrible to wake up. If I ever hear my old alarm noise go off, the one I woke up to every day at 5 am for crew practice, I flip out and am super upset about it.


  3. Gus Hastalis permalink
    August 17, 2010 12:54 pm

    This explains a lot. A LOT! xo

    P.S. Who are the muggles?

  4. August 17, 2010 4:01 pm

    I myself wake up with my alarm clock set to the world’s worst radio station — which is always blaring some hideous song. That way, I get out of bed quickly to make that damn music stop!

    It works.

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