An Open Letter to Chicago’s Millennium Park Plaza Building: Please Fix Your Clock

posted in: Day In The Life 10
This is sort of hilarious: This is the view FROM the clock. Not of the clock. But it was on Wikipedia! Photo: Wikipedia.


Dear Chicago’s Millennium Park Plaza Building:

I am an enthusiastic supporter of all of the large buildings on Michigan Avenue. As such, I hope this message will be received in the spirit in which it was written: with friendliness. And some urgency.

Millennium Park Plaza Building, I’m writing to ask if you might consider fixing your clock. It is such a large clock, Millennium Park Plaza Building, and it’s been broken for such a long time. In fact, I don’t know when it’s ever been correct, and I’ve been clicking my kitten heels up and down your stretch of Michigan Avenue for some years. Just curious, Millennium Park Plaza Building: Do you recall when your clock was keeping the correct time? Was it perhaps in the 1990s?

There are many idioms that having to do with time. “Time flies when you’re having fun.” “Third time’s the charm.” “Better late than never.” There’s one I like very much that goes, “Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.” You’re familiar with the phrase?

The other day, Millennium Park Plaza Building, I was crossing Michigan Avenue, right there at Randolph where your grand, handsome clock is so enticingly placed, towering, as it does, over the citizens of this great city. I looked up at you and — mercy! Your time was right! I was so pleased, Millennium Park Plaza Building, I can’t even tell you. The deep satisfaction of seeing your chiseled face at long last showing the correct time; seeing you do what you were born to do … It was a remarkable moment. I cannot be the only pedestrian who looked up at you, thought, “Ah! It’s 11:14 a.m.! Right on the money!” and felt a warm sense of rightness with the world, even for a flicker of a flick.

It was 11:14 a.m., Millennium Park Plaza Building — but you and I both know you had nothing to do with it. Because even a stopped clock is right twice a day, Millennium Park Plaza Building, and you only happened to be right about the 11:14 a.m. thing. You were wrong at the right time.

Millennium Park Plaza Building, you’ve been through a lot. You’ll be 40 in a few years and it’s not been an easy life; you’ve seen a lot of changes, had a few identity crises. Maybe your broken clock is symptomatic of how you feel on the inside. I get it, buddy. Sometimes my clock doesn’t work, either.

But if you can’t manage to get yourself off the couch and fix your clock for you, dear, may I suggest fixing it for someone else? Or someones else? You see, a lot of times, if you’re really down, the best thing you can do is to do something for others, to get the focus off yourself and onto someone else. Seek to love, not to be loved. Does that make sense?

Well, you’ve got the whole city to love, Millennium Park Plaza Building! When that clock of yours is finally working again, innumerable people at innumerable intervals will look at you, love you, check you twice, and yes, curse you and say bad words when they don’t like what you have to show them — but it’s not your fault Paul is late for work (again) or that Jacinda just missed her train to Bloomington! You’ll be helping people, that’s my point. And I know you can do it.

If you can’t fix your clock, Millennium Park Plaza Building, will you consider taking it down for heaven’s sake? At a certain point, a big, broken clock on a busy street really gets to a girl. She starts feeling a little lost. She becomes dangerously preoccupied with time, as a construct.

She starts talking to buildings.

Mary Fons

10 Responses

  1. Jo Chalk
    | Reply

    I hope they fix their clock, Mary. Time stands still for no one and as much as the building would like time to be still…it has failed.

  2. Carol Maki
    | Reply

    Maybe there are no parts to repair that old of a clock. People can just check their cell phones for the time. They look at their phone many times of the day anyway.

  3. Colleen
    | Reply

    Nice and although I live on the left coast, I 100% agree if it’s a clock on display it is a requirement that it work properly period.
    Remove or cover it up or get the thing telling the correct time

  4. Cathy
    | Reply

    This is unbelievable–that a city will not fix their clock!!

  5. Lee
    | Reply

    I feel you! Well said.

  6. Liz
    | Reply

    “You were wrong at the right time.” I love it!

    You should submit this to the newspaper!

  7. Mary Spriet
    | Reply

    It’s not about “needing a clock” to know what time it is. It’s about this city. I don’t live there, but I do visit several times a year. My son & family live there. I LOVE the history, the buildings and architecture. This city is alive! They have had years & years to find , or if necessary, make the parts to fix this old piece of history. It is a shame that with all the young blood and go-getters there that nobody has formed a organization to fund this. …. if that is the problem…. I wonder how many people are even aware?

  8. Nancy Kursewicz
    | Reply

    I’m with you Mary! I always want to know the correct time and if a clock is going to show me its face, it better be correct!

  9. Sarah
    | Reply

    A perfect letter! Thanks.

  10. […] that is outside of my experience, especially when that something is more controversial, say, than a broken clock. In fact, when I’m puzzling over something serious, something I have no experience with and […]

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