Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning

Article excerpt

Today's mystery occupation: knocker-up.

Not to be confused with "Knocked Up," the very funny Seth Rogen/ Katherine Heigl comedy released in 2007, knocking-up was once a popular profession in Britain and Ireland.

It wasn't the oldest profession, but it was definitely an early one.

Early in the morning, that is.

Before the invention of the alarm clock -- and what a grisly day that was -- some people hired other people to wake them up by knocking on their bedroom windows.

Knock, knock, knock.

Tap, tap, tap.

According to Wikipedia, a knocker-up would be paid a few pence a week for this task, providing that he or she did it well.

(Yes, I said "he or she." There was never a glass ceiling in the knocker-up biz. It was an equal opportunity profession.)

There is a knocker-up -- or at least a description of one -- in Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations." There is also a knocker-up in the Stanley Houghton play "Hindle Wakes."

I've never seen that play, but I did read "Great Expectations" way back when I was in high school -- the one time in my life that I really couldn't stand waking up.

My family lived in Queens at the time, and getting from my house in Rosedale to my high school in Flushing involved two buses and a subway -- a long, complicated journey that required me to wake at 5:30.


This was child abuse, wasn't it?

Now, don't get me wrong, I love long, complicated journeys. (I saw "The Lord of the Rings" at least five times.) But I've always believed that people should wake up when they darn well feel like it. After all, this is a free country: one nation, under God, under the covers, to sleep perchance to dream.

And so on.

Mind you, I didn't mind waking up for school in September, when there was light outside my window. And it was warm. And I felt like having a cold glass of juice.

But then, the seasons began to change, and it got darker and colder outside, and my mornings went to hell in a handbasket.

I had no alarm clock then, because I had a mother. And every morning she would tap, tap, tap on my bedroom door, with her long fingernails. I'd hear this and open my eyes in the darkness. …

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