Phone Chat

To save some cash, I switch cell phone companies, and I realize,  while I’m on the phone with the representative, that she’s working at home when she talks to her dog.

Knowing this opens up our conversation, and I learn her husband likes to turn down the heat, they’ve been living in Phoenix for two years, and she sought out this job because she likes the company so much. I’m amazed, because I never considered working for a phone company an interesting career option. She insists the people are all just so darn nice. It’s a great job.

While she types in my info, she hums faintly. I hear a screen door squeak open, and her husband’s voice. We chat about the coronavirus, and what it’s like to work only from home, for week after week.

When she’s finished setting up my phones, she wishes me good luck and welcomes me to the company family. I feel weirdly delighted. I don’t even know this woman’s name.

Somewhere along the way, I’ve more or less resigned myself to a kind of lone wolf existence — raising kids and gleaning work hours — and much of the work I do requires solitude. But this coronavirus existence has made me realize how valuable are our slenderest connections.

When I hang up, I step over my daughters who are sprawled on the rug doing a workout in preparation for bikini season. The cat wanders between them, clearly confused, likely wondering, What now? I step out on the back porch. Snowflakes are twirling down. Summer? Hello? I wonder.

Many people nowadays live in a series of interiors… disconnected from each other. On foot everything stays connected… One lives in the whole world rather than in interiors built up against it.

Rebecca Solnit


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