I walk into a shop that tints car windows. A genial looking guy saunters over and says, “Good morning, Sir. How can I help you?”

I give him my name and say, “Well, I have a problem. My wife’s going out of town for a few weeks and she’s afraid my old ears won’t hear our old alarm clock while she’s gone.”

He looks at me with a scowl and says, “Sorry, we don’t deal with marital issues. Too many bad results.”

“That’s not the problem,” I tell him. “She bought me this little alarm clock that’s really loud, but . . .” Immediately he interrupts me with, “And the numbers are too bright at night and you can’t sleep. Is that it?”

“That’s very much it,” I reply. “Those big blue numbers light the bedroom up like a jewelry store. Way too brilliant.”

He stands there, looking uncertain. I shuffle my feet and offer, “Anyway, I thought you might have some of that tinted plastic stuff that’ll make it dimmer.”

“We get that question in here all the time. Doesn’t work. The tinted coating won’t stick to plastic. Falls right off. Only works on glass,” he replies with finality. Then he nods and smiles a little. I sense he can take a joke, or hand one out.

“But I’ve got this magic material that’ll make it stick to plastic,” I offer.

“What kind of material, Partner? I’ve seen it all.” he asks. He seems to doubt my solution will work.

“It’s called transparent tape,” I tell him. “Genuine 3M product. Available everywhere.”

“Oh, one of those smart guys, Eh?” He’s grinning at me. “That would look ugly.”

“I don’t care, it’s only for a few weeks,” I say. The situation is looking better.

He walks over and fishes a piece of tinting film from a huge wastebasket and shows it to me. “See, this backing peels off and the film has to cling to the inside of the window.

 “That looks perfect for what I need. How much for that piece of scrap?” I ask. “That you already threw away,” I add.

He thinks for a second and says, “Normally this would cost you five dollars, but I’ll let you have it for nothing. You’re kind of entertaining.”

“Well, thank you very much. I really appreciate it,” I say.

I took the piece of magic film home and trimmed and taped it securely to the clock face. At night our bedroom is now bathed in a soft alluring sensuous cerulean glow that induces immediate sleep. Faint blue numbers accurately denote the time. And the alarm blasts me awake at the appointed moment with a strident piercing buzz.

Problem solved.

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