The highs and lows of Christmas 2020

Christmas is always hard for me. Having a second teenager, a houseful of kittens and brand new budgie chicks helps me escape a lot of the pain that surfaces during the holidays.

And no matter what I try, I can’t escape it. Instead, I work to minimize it.

And every year it gets a little easier.

It’s 9:30 pm now— I am listening to Rachmaninov on my brand new AirPods and at first I was very disappointed to discover that they didn’t have buttons.

Imagine my shock when I discovered they automatically turn on and off when I place them in my ear and take them off. And so far they don’t fall out as easily as the cheap ones do. (When I saw cheap I mean cheap— I got my previous set for $10 at Family Dollar. I had no problems with my $10 set either except I broke pieces off of them within the first couple days).

So to continue writing about my holiday backwards, teenager #1 received kitchen tools from teenager #2 and a new hand mixer from my mother-in-law. She’s baking banana bread now.

Apparently piles of cookies and fruitcake aren’t enough for her.

I’m journaling, blogging, and about to watch another episode of The Tudors. I can’t believe Vale of FURR’s Norse Pride is going home tomorrow— and I am bringing three other kittens to the adoption fair as well.

Fern-Edie is doing well in her new home. And I am starting to hyperventilate a little thinking this might be the last night my bed looks like this:

Vale and Loki

As I came up to my bedroom to start the animals’ night routine, I noticed all three budgies were out. Mama Wink showed me that all her eggs had hatched and I watched her clean shell off her newest chick. We hope to name them Yule, Winter and Christmas if they all survive. I hope they do.

Other highlights of Christmas:

  • The big Christmas mission for the teenager’s mysterious package earlier this week was… her varsity jacket!

YouTube: Teenager opens her varsity jacket

  • We listened to some non traditional Christmas carols extremely loudly in the car. Including “The Christmas Tree’s on Fire.”
  • I earned a place of honor in this year’s Christmas Grace, “Thank you, Lord, for keeping us safe from Corona, well except for Angel.” Ever burst out laughing during a prayer? Now I have.
  • I was asked to make the broccoli for Christmas dinner. My step mom doesn’t trust anyone else with the green vegetables I guess. I sautéed them golden brown in butter with sea salt, too much multicolored peppercorns (I grabbed the wrong jar— oops!) and herbs de Provence.
  • Christmas was much smaller than usual because of the pandemic, so my stepmom decided we would get fresh cut steaks from the butcher. She even ordered one for my brother’s dog. And she wanted to grill them. The temperature dropped drastically while my dad was at the grill and then all the steaks went up in flames. I learned that a good blue cheese dressing can cut the taste of charcoaled steaks.

I guess the last thing I’ll mention is that the teenager got a pet play pen which will come in handy for our work with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. Of course, I’ve discovered it houses cats and teenagers.

“That” mom

The teenager is a junior at our local public high school, plays low brass and usually makes the honor roll.

Her entire school career we’ve had “the rule.” You get one bail out per school year. One Mom-SOS request to bring an item to school— band music, mouthpiece, lunch, whatever.

Today, on the first official day of in-person hybrid public education she forgot her school-issued Chromebook.

7:36 a.m. (one minute before the late bell rings) — text message— “Mom SOS.”

I go up to her room and find her refurbished MacBook Air and her school Chromebook. Both stacked nicely on her newly organized desk. Neither plugged in.

“Is it charged?” I text.

She assures me it is.

I try to resist the kittens gathering at my feet. It’s hard— but I have a mission.

I grab her wallet (as she has my keys attached to it at this moment) my wallet, and my flip flops.

I am now “that mom.” I always prided myself on being dressed and groomed before walking my kid to school. But today, I am still as I was when I rolled out of bed: crisp white t-shirt now speckled with some Fiero dust (spicy Taki-style corn snacks in fire-breathing chili lime flavor), no bra, and yoga pants.

When did I become this?

It’s raining lightly, the crickets are singing.

I park the car near the school and buzz the office (which, with me were several late coming students). It’s a small school so the employee in the office pretty much knows most of the parents and all of the kids.

From my sequestered hallway in the vestibule I hand her the computers and noticing the lack of cords she asks me, “Chargers?”

She knows teenagers. She sees it every day.

“She claims they are charged.”

The office employee nods. I realize I really should know her name, but I suppose it’s not a bad thing as I have not become one of “those parents” in addition to “that mom.”

“Those parents” are always at the school dropping things off or calling to talk to someone about their child.

The woman at the window asks if my daughter is coming for the machines, so I text her. (Is this not blatant disregard for the “no phones in school” policy?)

She says she doesn’t think she can unless someone gives her permission. I relay this. The woman in the office calls.

I have not said my daughter’s name out loud this whole time.

It’s a small public school.

I am instructed to leave the technology on the narrow table beside me in the hall. I exit. I see the teenager approaching from inside the locked doors. I wave from the rainy outdoors.

I walk home in the rain— my middle aged self in a white t-shirt. I figure the child will want to drive later so I leave the car there.

Funny part is, it was raining on her orientation day last week so I let her friend use my umbrella. Her friend also had it with her today.

I get home a little soggy and my daughter’s cat is in my spot.

Misty

And to think my daughter asked me — “why are you up this early?”

Apparently for an SOS.

Owning up and ripping Sheetz a new one

First off, before I even start this entry let me give my poor customer service representative Justin a shout out for his professionalism, patience and calm.

Second, before I get too far let me admit that I have now reached my heaviest ever weight, about ten pounds heavier than my natural set point with no muscle tone left. Push-ups, planks and heel-touch crunches used to be my jam– I could do 20 push-ups, a sixty-second plank and 100 heel touches without feeling tired or compromised.

At one point I had visible abdominal muscles, then I had abdominal muscles like stone beneath a layer of fat. That is now done. I struggle to walk up hill. I have no muscle tone. Where I once used 25-pound dumbbells for my bicep curls, I now huff and puff with ten.

This past year has been cruel.

This is the owning up portion of today’s blog. Yesterday, I woke up exhausted and hot but still motivated myself to do an ab workout. But then, I didn’t quite meet my step goal. And ate half a Papa John’s pizza and an order of their jalapeno popper bread bites. I meant to share them with the teenager but they were way too spicy. And I ate them all, even though they were kinda gross.

Jalapeño popper bread bites

I blame Dominos for the pizza binge as they sent me a push notification that they had two new pizzas–chicken taco and cheeseburger–but both turned out to sound boring and the $5.99 promotion seemed unavailable so rather than order my free two topping I spent $26 at Papa Johns.

The Zesty Italian or Tangy Italian, or whatever pie it was, was delicious in that trashy kind of way (though I hate Papa John’s tomato sauce I am reminded now). And the meal has led to a type of intestinal distress I don’t normally experience. I also gained 3 pounds.

The teenager tells me the pizza was good, but Dominos is better in her adolescent opinion.

Speaking of adolescent behavior, the teenager went back-to-school shopping with the paternal grandparents. She wanted a milkshake from Sheetz for lunch and her grandparents vetoed that and took her to a diner she does not like. I will withhold the name here as it is a fairly popular spot.

So she came home a little upset over the meal situation as she had just had “the worst quesadilla of my life.” She pined for that milkshake as it is 90+ degrees outside and she has marching band tonight.

“Mom,” she said. “If you buy me a milkshake at Sheetz, I won’t eat anything else today.”

I told her to throw in some extra chores and we could talk. She agreed. I downloaded the Sheetz app as these days, I don’t go anywhere without looking for coupons. I went to create my Sheetz account. Now, my husband has the Sheetz card. I have the Sheetz key ring.

The Sheetz card has a security code that the key ring does not.

You need the security card. The app forces me to call customer service.

Customer service tells me I have to find my security code, have my husband call them and say it’s okay, or use the general random Sheetz card.

To which I say, “If I use a random card, I won’t get the points. Isn’t that the point of the loyalty app?”

I launch into a fiery tirade. Because our Sheetz card/account is in my husband’s name, I cannot log into the Sheetz app. I find it odd that a loyalty app would have such strict security. I merely want to look for coupons and then go buy my daughter a milkshake.

Well, poor talented and patient Justin the Customer Service rep tells me, some people have credit card information in the app.

Yes, I say, but this one does not, because this account has never downloaded the app. So it does not have anything in it. I added that I can tell him my husband’s birthday and his social security number and probably the password he used if we ever tried to set up an online account. But he still needs my husband’s permission.

So I tell him that I refinanced my car over the phone the other day, and that I stayed on the line while the previous loan holder talked to my new financer. That I gave them my permission to share my account information with my new bank.

If I can do that over the phone, I should be able to buy a damn milkshake for my kid.

As a compromise, he called my husband at work and asked if he was allowed to give me access to our Sheetz loyalty account. My husband, of course, said yes.

He told the teenager via text that the customer service people didn’t verify his identity. They asked for no proof that he was indeed my husband.

Now let me add that if I were vindictive, because after all my husband and I have been separated for 14 months, why would I go to the trouble to steal his Sheetz loyalty number which is 16 digits, hack into his account, and run up his credit card with Sheetz purchases? Perhaps I would go squander his non-existent stockpile of reward points.

The app apprised me that we had 523 loyalty reward points and Sheetz requires 500 for a free regular milkshake.

I bought myself a pretzel with nacho cheese sauce and while the cheese sauce had a barely perceptible layer of spice to it, it had no flavor whatsoever.

The teenager enjoyed her milkshake.

Their mobile order system is very convenient.

The ups and downs of DQ

I originally started this blog post intending to lambast my local Dairy Queen.

But literally as I was debating what to title this piece when either the owner or the manager of our local Dairy Queen called to make this right.

So as you read this long-winded tale of technological failure and questionable customer service moves, let me say that while it’s not 100% resolved now, I have the cell phone number of the person who can fix it.

The story begins with a mildly inconvenient family matter that still hasn’t been resolved. It kept me out of the house last night until almost midnight. I was lucky to get six hours of uneasy sleep.

And I had a dream that a good friend had come to stay for a couple days to help me deal with some of the things in my life, so I woke disappointed and tired.

The teenager is staying with her dad. She stopped by for her wallet and to get some items she needed to pick up some strong medicine at the doctor.

I ended up leaving work in late morning because of fatigue, and the personal text messages I kept receiving.

The teenager left around 12:30 to head to the doctor.

I hadn’t eaten yet and I saw that DQ has a new Blizzard. Frosted Animal Cookie. Doesn’t that sound interesting?

So I thought I’ll get a 3-piece chicken strip meal deal and the Blizzard and a cheeseburger. A little naughty but it’s been a rough day.

I very carefully selected what I wanted— and left the house at 12:50. The order was submitted, I received a confirmation email and a notice from my bank that $11.25 had been deducted from the $27 left in my account.

DQ’s mobile app has this feature, that you tell them that you’re “here.”

I pulled into the drive thru. So I hit the button.

Now traditionally, in the pre-Coronavirus universe, I hate drive-thrus. I worked for five years at a McDonald’s, much of that in the drive-thru. It was so stressful, but it was my job through college. Drive-thru’s contribute to our anxiety and laziness as a country. We’re all too busy to get out of the car.

Now with Covid-19, I am using a drive-thru once a week. I’m in the line at DQ.

My order disappears.

1:10, I arrive at the speaker. I very professionally and clearly say, “I had a mobile order, but it seems to have disappeared even though I was charged.”

The mysterious voice in the box apologizes but says there is a problem on their end with mobile ordering and she can’t give me food.

I ask her, “May I read you the order and show you it on my phone?”

No, she says.

But you took my money, I said.

You need to call corporate, she said.

May I have the phone number? I asked.

It’s in the app, she replied.

And I had to sit in the drive thru for 20 minutes to not get food.

At 1:30 I pulled into the parking lot to search the app for a phone number. Found a comment section in the app. Gave them 1 star.

Who can’t give $10 of food or a phone number?

I found a comment form and started filling it out and after I got it half way done and the form automatically submitted itself.

I started over.

Then I finally found a phone number.

I called.

Waited 10 minutes.

Had a really skillful customer representative named Jeremy who laughed at my jokes and sympathized with my plight. He filed a report and asked me if I wanted to add a complaint against my particular store. Jeremy asked if they were rude, and I said no but I just felt like they could have handled it differently.

So, that done, I ordered a burger from Wendy’s and Vanilla Frostyccino. It was 2 pm and I still hadn’t eaten.

I brought my Wendy’s home, fed Nala (my cockatoo) her French fries and some apples, watched some Gordon Ramsay and prepped to blog a scathing tale of DQ.

As I finished my meal, I got a phone call from someone in charge of my local DQ. I didn’t catch his name, but we had a lovely conversation.

Addition to original post: I texted him this blog post and he told me his name was John and that he owns both the Easton and Bethlehem DQ stores.

I told him I worked for almost a decade selling icees and making Pizza Hit pan pizzas in the Target on Rte. 248. And I would have been able to give my customers a phone number and I would have given them the food.

I had an $11.25 order, for goodness sake.

And he said he would have handled it differently and that he’d like to make it right.

This is a summary of what I told him:

I’m glad you called, because even if I never see the $11 again, just knowing that there are business owners that care and want to provide a good experience matters. The virus makes it hard, we don’t have those face to face interactions. People are tired and aren’t prepared for some of these issues.

So I get that. But he called. And I appreciated that.

And I would let him know if I didn’t get my $11.25 back.

He thanked me for being understanding.

And he told me if I ever had a problem to call him— on his cell.

#customerservicewin

He dealt with my complaint within an hour, over an $11 sale. He didn’t have to do that.

Thank you.

And John’s response to my blog entry: “Thanks and again, so sorry again about the inconvenience. My name is John and I own the stores in Easton and Bethlehem. I have great crews at both stores but this incident could have been handled much better. I will be using this and sharing it with my crews as a learning experience to 1) do the right thing – take care of the customer and 2) when mistakes happen or problems occur take ownership and let the customer know that you are sorry and that you care. Have a great weekend!! John”

Easter Sunday Pandemic Stream of Consciousness

I started today with the debate of whether to blog about Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, or my thoughts on what makes a good day or a good weekend, something the teenager seemed insistent upon us having.

But the cats started climbing the parakeet cage, I made the “mistake” of reviewing some news coverage of Donald Trump’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic, and frankly, I’ve lost my train of thought more times than I can count.

So while I’m still lost in a sea of randomness, watching Mistofelees (my daughter’s formerly feral/stray kitten) decide how to get off the budgie cage without crossing Nala’s path, let me also say I used the hydrating hair mask from last month’s Ipsy Glam bag and my dry curly hair is remarkably not puffy today.

The first time I tried it, I didn’t see any results. This time was very different.

(For more on my Ipsy experiences, see here: Review of my Ipsy April 2020 Glam Bag)

It’s Easter Sunday, but the teenager opened her basket on Good Friday (I’m suddenly realizing how disrespectful that was of traditional Christian culture). Oops.

To see our silliness on that, I have YouTube videos:

Mom prepares the Easter Box

Teen opens her Easter box

I washed her new sheets and hung them on the line yesterday. I helped her make her bed and I hope she had a lovely night of sleep on them. She picked the most colorful ones first.

In the next order of randomness, I think I’m going to make a Buffalo chicken spaghetti squash casserole for Easter dinner.

Now, shall I even expound on my thoughts on the Coronavirus situation. Perhaps briefly.

  • I think the isolation vs. develop herd immunity arguments both have merit. It’s hard for anyone to know what is “right” in any major situation. What makes a good leader is the depth of response, the logic behind it and how organized the implementation is.
  • Those who have resources and power will always sacrifice those who have less to maintain their resources and power. It is true of most humanity. Even those will less. Look at the hoopla over toilet paper.
  • I think this change in how we live and work could have some broad implications. I would like to see, in my Pollyanna nirvana, a world where we all slow down, shop less, and spend more time with our loved ones. But in reality, I think we will see shifts in service delivery (perhaps huge changes in public education), reductions in consumer goods available/continued shortages, and more poverty.
  • Our civil liberties have changed since 9/11/2001 and they will continue to decrease. The notion of privacy is almost completely dead if not buried. I remember when science fiction warned us we would all be microchipped and have our physical money taken away. Now, the core of our lives are tracked, spied on and connected to a mini-supercomputer we carry with us everywhere we go. We call it a smart phone.
  • Technology companies are developing identifiers for each of us via our phones to track who may have been exposed to Covid-19 and alert those they with whom they came in contact. This technology will no doubt track us all in other ways in the future but I’m not against it. Because, see previous bullet, in today’s world there is no real privacy boundaries left.

So let’s enjoy this sunny Easter and celebrate life and spring.

With the pandemic looming, and people still struggling in the every day ways, you have to rejoice one moment at a time.

A random Coronavirus list after 7 days of working at home

1. Pets can really brighten your day. And steal your earrings. And make you laugh. And make a mess. And sleep next to you in the sun. I think every dog in my neighborhood loves having everyone home.

2. Thanks to my office colleagues and teenager I can now make a FaceTime call with multiple people.

3. I eat less when at home. I realize how big of a stress eating problem I have. When I’m home and calmer, I eat smaller meals so even though I am exercising less, I am losing weight.

4. I don’t miss my bra, but I have to wear real pants even in my home office. For some reason I can’t focus in my pajama pants or comfy pants. It makes me want to be lazy instead of productive.

5. I love lists, but they are a reaction to stress. The more I am distanced from the rat race mentality of our typical American lifestyle, the less I make lists. My to-do lists are created out of a frantic need to prove my productivity to my family, myself and my colleagues. I find myself more in control and less driven to make lists as my lifestyle gets quieter.

6. There is no such thing as free lunch. I’ve been watching the news coverage on the stimulus package and average Americans— the barely middle class ones like myself and those struggling—need to understand that this appears to be an advance on your 2020 refund.

That makes me uncomfortable. It’s an election year, so who knows what will be happening to our tax structure in the future and this bill is enormous. We will have to pay it back somehow or it will damage our economy in the long run.

Plus, for many of us, our jobs and income are unstable right now. And even if we do have good jobs, we might not be seeing raises. And how will this all impact inflation?

I understand it’s a measure to help us survive right now. But I hope this situation helps more people understand that we need to spend less and save more.

7. I’m eating my vegetables. And taking my vitamins. And tracking my moods—because I had been having issues with my blood pressure and no doctor, no matter how much he cares, is going to check my blood pressure right now.

I was talking to a colleague that I last went to Wegmans more than 2 weeks ago. She asked how I have any produce. I taught her my trick. I bought apples, oranges and green bananas. I bought fresh Brussel sprouts, potatoes, spaghetti squash, radishes and a giant cabbage.

Root vegetables for the win!

8. Sunshine saves the day. Working, via extension cord because I have the old laptop with no battery power, on the enclosed porch beats the dining room table.

If you want more info on the tax bill:

From Forbes.com

From Yahoo money

An Open Letter to American Society

I am home today battling a hand-me-down cold from my daughter. It’s not a bad one so far, but I am doing everything in my power to keep the damage to a minimum. With flu season ravaging everyone out there, I will take my little cold.

I have a part-time job in retail, a job that pays the bills and allows me the flexibility to live my life with the quasi-freedom a writer’s life should have. It is not ideal, but few things are in today’s world. It’s an overpopulated, under-resourceful place, this world, or maybe we waste too much of what we have.

I have traveled enough to understand what “first world problems” really are. I have talked to enough people from cultures more or less the opposite of mine to see how selfish many people have become.

So, today, I write a brief letter to my fellow Americans. This letter is based on things I see everyday. Too often.

  1. Please stop giving babies iPhones and junk food. If your child isn’t old enough to walk or talk, he or she does not need an icee. And I know it’s not easy to drag an infant everywhere you have to go, but believe it or not, they are fairly easily entertained. Giving your baby an electronic device to watch movies or play games while you shop prevents your child from interacting with the world. That’s how they learn. I saw a mother recently apologize for the fact that her child was mesmerized by a toothpaste box. Good for that kid! Good for that mom! Let your child see things, touch things and meet people.
  2. Get off the phone. A lot of people are busy. We get it. But perhaps that also is a sign that you are misusing your life. And it’s not just people on their lunch hour. It’s the elderly who sometimes can’t hang up the phone to go through the check-out line. It’s just rude and it dehumanizes the person helping you. My daughter recently asked me how you could receive calls at a pay phone. I told her it had a number listed on it so if you really wanted to hang out and receive a call, you could. I also reminded her that this was also the time period where you had to answer the phone to find out who it was and before answering machines and voicemail, if you weren’t home or missed the call you would never know…
  3. Stop buying useless stuff. I think the only reason people buy half the things they own is because of an impulse that starts with “this is cute.” We buy too many clothes, too many knick knacks, so many things. Why?
  4. Live within your means. Be careful with your paycheck and try to save those credit cards for emergencies. Buy the car that fits your budget, not your lust. Not everyone needs the big house. Not every family needs more than one car. Consumers in debt are the playthings of big business.
  5. Eat better. You don’t “need” pizzas and burgers and soda. You don’t need fancy sugar-laden coffee drinks. You want them. You need water (lots of it), fruits and vegetables and healthy protein. I’ll spare the full lecture, but the better you treat your body, the better it will perform for you.
  6. Stop acting spoiled. Or entitled. Or privileged. Whatever word you prefer is fine. You want the random stuff and the fancy coffee drink because you feel you deserve it. And that’s fine. But when they run out of your favorite flavor ice cream, or things don’t work out the way you want, remember everyone usually is doing their best and it’s not the end of the world.
  7. Treat each other kindly. Be gentle. The more we share patience and kindness with our families and those we interact with, the more it will spread. I see too many people get nasty to the sweetest people honestly trying to be the best at their job, and when I see truly good souls fighting tears because someone (who probably has their own demons to fight with) decided to be mean, I don’t question why teens are seeing guns as solutions.
  8. Take care of the elderly. I live in a rare neighborhood. We lost our 90-year-old neighbor last week. Several neighbors helped care for her as she became more and more of a shut-in. The children would all visit. I would always help her carry her groceries or send my daughter to help when I saw the opportunity. That woman died very loved. And my daughter learned how to be a neighbor.
  9. Let your children grow up. Let your children solve their own problems. Have their own experiences. It’s hard to let go. I know. Start small. Let them do meal planning and cook dinner. We saw a team of teenagers working on a school project in a store. They were amazed at the cost of laundry soap and a tad befuddled. Remember, parents are training children to be adults.
  10. Appreciate other cultures. The more you value other cultures, the more you learn about yourself. I think Americans are particularly bad at this.

I’m stopping my list here. I just wanted to give you something to think about.

Technology: iPhone junkie unplugged

Image

A month ago, I left my phone in D.C. It came home in this package.

I am an iPhone junkie.

Everyone around me knows it. I have never denied it. Earlier this summer, I left my iPhone 4 on my friend’s bookshelf in D.C. where it was charging. He mailed it to me, but since I left on a Thursday and the phone arrived on Monday afternoon, that meant five days without my phone.

Monday, while cleaning the bathroom, my iPhone slipped from my pocket and went for a brief swim. As it fell, I reached out to catch it but it was too late. Submerged in water for about seven seconds, the time and my home screen flashed at me briefly before it powered down. I sealed it inside a plastic bag of whole grain brown rice. I’m told I can’t touch it for a week. A week!

That was about 50 hours ago. I find it’s not the Facebook or the Instagram I miss as badly as the lack of information. When my husband mocked me for not knowing a 1980s cartoon monkey, there would be no YouTube search. No news makes it into my house. My favorite news sources’ tweets fall upon other ears. No texts from my father. No Facebook messages from work colleagues pushed to the forefront to let me know that extra shifts are mine for the claiming.

No impromptu photography of the ridiculous things my daughter does. No blogging of the meals we eat day-to-day for my recipe blog, http://www.angelfoodcooking.blogspot.com. My email is limited, as we don’t really have internet in the house. Those job listings I find via the Indeed app each morning… Those are far away. No pedometer to tell me how far I’ve walked or where I walked it.

It’s hard to check my bank balance, especially since I have several accounts at two different banks all of which are more or less empty. When I went to Target to buy my grandmother a new nightgown, I couldn’t use Cartwheel. Read a book? Listen to music? Nope, can’t do that, either. No maps. No easy access to my calendar, phone numbers or addresses. No GPS to tell me where I am. No apps to help me find the nearest bike path or public transports. I can’t even buy a train ticket.

I’ve been told I can do things via my phone that some people haven’t mastered on their computers. I edited press releases via the Pages app, share them as Word docs and save them to Google Drive or simply email them. I keep PDFs of my resume, favorite samples, portfolio and recent newsletters that I can distribute with a touch of my finger.

My Instagram followers and Facebook friends may think I’m dead. In a way, I am. I am using my circa 2009 Nokia flip-phone that I gave my husband after his phone went through the washing machine. The kind people who answered at my carrier’s customer service line have forwarded my calls to his line. But that leaves us one phone. For a family of three. And no landline. My daughter doesn’t even remember when we had a “house phone.” Answering machines are alien technology.

The ring tone of my ancient phone is Cake’s “No Phone.” The lyrics remind me, “No Phone. No Phone. I just want to be alone today.” I loaded it as a joke back-in-the-day when I was a newspaper reporter. In the days before iPhones, Twitter and Facebook.

But, hey, the old Nokia has a car charger.