COVID-19: A certain irony

We’re all friends now, but there was a time when the Allies were at war with Germany and Italy and Japan. Cedric is very saddened that all countries now have to join together to fight an invisible enemy. Yesterday, on reading that his beloved American Church in Paris had closed its doors, he sent the following email to the church:

Dear Reverend Dr. Herr:

My parents, sister and I were welcomed to your church at the end of the War in April 1945 by Dr. Williams and his wonderful family. Although I have lived in many other cities since that time and now live in Atlanta, Georgia, my home church will always be 65 Quai d’Orsay, where I grew up under the watchful eye of Dr. Williams.

I am distressed to see that, in common with churches in Atlanta, you have wisely had to close the doors at this time. It is ironic that for 65 Quai d’Orsay the dreaded virus has accomplished what even the Germans were unable to do. Amanda and I send you greetings and pray for your continued blessing —– Peace—– Cedric P. Marie.

COVID-19: Toilet paper rationing

As the fabric of society disintegrates around us, there’s one bright constant in our lives: We have enough toilet paper (we call it loo paper) for the duration. Cedric says the English referred to the time during World War II as the duration … the word seems apt for our current situation. How do I know we have enough? Because I made a very scientific study of the amount I use. I’m leaving Cedric out of this for now – we have our own bathrooms (the secret to a long marriage) and I don’t want to think about men’s loo behavior.
For my study, I made a note of the day and time I started a new roll and stuck it on my mirror. One week later, to the exact minute, I pulled off the final sheet from the second roll. Actually, Cedric says he was still using the first roll … but as I said, we are not going there. He then helped calculate how much we have to last for a very long duration … please tell me this will be over in a year, or we will be in trouble.
Cedric, of course, is less concerned than I on this issue. He remembers in England during the War sometimes using newspaper – but they were a rather posh family, so it was always The Times of London, which I’m sure made a difference.
Wishing all my readers (all three of you) health and safety at this time.

Love your neighbor

Last night at church, during the Lenten supper series, we read and studied one of the Bible’s accounts of Jesus commanding us to love our neighbor as ourself (Mark 12:31). This subject introduced some lively discussion on what constitutes a neighbor. It’s uncomfortable to learn that a neighbor is not just the sweet old lady who lives down the street. It’s those we meet on the bus, the homeless, those behind prison bars, those from foreign countries, our own countrymen, our classmate. In other words, anyone with whom we come into contact other than our family members is classified as our neighbor.

But when a “neighbor” called me this morning, he got a piece of my mind and it wasn’t a loving piece either. Like many friends, I don’t typically answer my cell phone if I don’t recognize the number. We all get those scam calls and sometimes I regret hanging up so quickly. I listen to Cedric talking to spammers and leading them on and it’s hilarious when he asks the caller what language they are speaking. The answer is, of course, English – to which he always retorts, “Doesn’t sound like English to me, in his very British accent,” before hanging up.

When my cell rang, I hit the speaker button and answered. I heard sounds of hilarity and chat in the background before “Alex” realized he had a live person on the phone and pressed his talk button. This was Alex from the Social Security office – hmmm, I know the agents love their job but they don’t usually sound like they’re having a party. I let him read a couple of sentences telling me that I was delinquent on whatever before I leaned into the microphone and yelled as loud as I could: “YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF. SHAME ON YOU. THIS IS SUCH A SCAM!” I heard a sharp intake of breath and Alex said, “Whoa,” before he disconnected. I really don’t think he was expecting that.

I felt good, but the real issue is – I came into contact with Alex today. Am I really supposed to love Alex?

That sinking feeling …

… we both have it, that empty feeling in the pit of your stomach when you’ve just received your current Amazon order and there are no more shipments on the way: no sweet little email telling you your item has shipped, no tracking number, no delivery schedule. You’ve got to admire Jeff Bezos – he’s infiltrated himself into the fabric of society and my fingers are just itching to order something.

Recent orders include: tweezers, wood glue, mascara, Lapsang Souchong tea bags, hangers, calligraphy pens, glue dots, two French press coffee makers in different patterns and a ceramic egg holder – all absolutely essential and all required tomorrow. The two coffee makers mean we can each have the morning coffee we like at the same time and not get the pots confused … only in America! And the list goes on. Today, for the first time, we ordered from Whole Foods. Oh my goodness, our lives will never be the same again. We’ve always loved Whole Foods and used to shop there every Saturday when I was working. Today, all our favorites arrived outside the door before I’d even washed up our breakfast plates.

I know we are being sucked in by the instant gratification that online shopping provides and Cedric says at least three times a week: “My grandfather would not have believed this,” but you gotta hand it to Amazon – they are a Class Act and long may they continue to spread joy and happiness one order confirmation email at a time. And in 100 years, Amazon will be delivering to Mars.

Be kind – it will come back one day

I’ve mentioned before that one of my favorite quotes, which I have on a couple of T-shirts, is: “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” Kindness flows in both directions, as we found out recently.
Tell someone in Atlanta that you’re going to renew your driver’s license and it elicits the same look you’d get in England when you tell someone you’re waiting for the gas man … a look of sympathy. It was time for our license renewals and in the U.S. (for my two overseas readers), you must appear in person if you are over the age of 65 to take an eye test. But, we had the best time ever at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). Seriously! Granted, it’s a sparkly new building, built in the last 10 years or so, which makes for a better environment for customers and employees. The previous one is still known as “the shack” by the DMV employees. We walked in and were greeted by an employee with a big smile; she directed us to the kiosk to get our numbers and we sat down. I didn’t even have time to get out my knitting when my number was called by desk #17, way down at one end. Cedric was called immediately afterwards, to desk #1 – as far as he could be from my desk. I completed my application. The employee was terrific, polite and efficient. When I asked if my picture was OK, she replied, “It looks like you …” which I guess is her standard answer. I then heard peals of laughter and the sounds of a party taking place at the other end of the DMV. Wow, someone is having a good time, I thought … yep, it was Cedric! When he approached desk #1, the employee looked at him and said, “I know you. You were my favorite customer at Ace Hardware more than 10 years ago. You were always so nice to me and I enjoyed serving you.” It was a family reunion. Tia even remembered our dog, Hunnie, who always accompanied Cedric. When I walked over to join them, Tia remembered me, too. The joy was infectious. Other customers and employees joined in and listened to Tia telling stories about Cedric and Hunnie. Everyone was smiling. We were in and out of the DMV in less than 25 minutes. Tia made our day and I think we made hers.
p.s. – ouch, I see it’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog but I’m sure you all want to know the next installment of Cedric’s phone saga … he figured out he can use my Kindle wire to charge his phone, so the flip phone lives to see another day.

Don’t hold your breath …

Cedric has a flip phone. It’s yonks old but still works. The charging cable has disintegrated so off to the phone shop we will go as soon as it needs charging up. Will he upgrade to a fancy model? We’ll see. Right now, he often flips open the lid and swipes up and down and back and forth on the inch-wide screen simulating a smartphone. All bets are off, but I’ll keep you posted.

Spooky, spooky

Big brother is watching you; the walls have ears; laptops can both watch and hear … we had proof today. We’ve all read sad stories where a husband or wife dies and the remaining spouse can’t access accounts, important information or even photos on an iPhone. In one of our favorite movies, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” Judi Dench is on the phone with the cable company and the customer care agent insists on talking to the account holder. “You can’t, he’s dead,” Judi says. It’s funny but actually, it’s not. We are pretty organized with our paperwork but I hadn’t given Cedric a list of my phone and computer passwords, so we sat down with a sheet of paper and I said, “OK, I’m switching off now and I’ll restart and show you how I get into my laptop.” HA HA SAID MY LAPTOP, I’LL SHOW THEM.

The screen invited me to enter my password like it does several times a day when I switch off or leave my laptop. I wrote out my password on the sheet and then typed it in. I got that rude wiggle which indicates it doesn’t like it. Hmmm, I must have typed too fast. I tried again. Another wiggle. I typed a third time really really slowly. More really fast wiggles and an invitation to reset my password. I followed the instructions but when you actually think about a password, it’s almost impossible to remember how many and where you had the numerals and uppercase letters you are forced to include. I finally reset my password and went back to square one. NOTHING … except I’m sure I heard a little giggle in the background. Round and round I went and the password hint reverted to the original – but I’d reset it three times by now with three new hints.

I called Apple. To cut a long story short, and two techies and 90 minutes later, I had a new password. The senior techie was impressed that I was in the middle of showing my husband how to access everything on a “just in case basis” but he couldn’t understand why my laptop had gone rogue at that exact moment. But don’t try and convince me my laptop wasn’t listening to our conversation.