My Personal Pandemic – Guest Post by Jeanie Miller 15

THIS MORNING, I was happily nosing around in the back yard, checking to see if my latest veggie plantings were thriving or if everything was watered sufficiently. I even potted a flowering plant in a pot I decorated myself — with mosaic tiles (a ten-year project).

As I moved the hose from one place to another, my husband said, “You do realize your shorts are on backwards, don’t you?”

And so they were. It was the ultimate confirmation that I may not have the virus, but I’m suffering nevertheless.

Following are some of the reasons for my suffering, and I know I should say how grateful I am that none of us has the virus and that none of my extended family has it, or my friends, and I have plenty of toilet paper (if this thing ends in two weeks) and a 50-pound bag of rice thanks to my friend, Bev, who works at Costco. For all those things, I am profoundly grateful.

Here goes:

Last Monday, our refrigerator died. The first repair guy (from the Russian mob) told me he couldn’t touch it because it was still under the manufacturer’s warranty and I needed an “authorized” repair person to fix it.

He also informed me that if I didn’t get all that food out of it, it would start to smell. He even suggested we cook all the food in the freezer and have a big party. I guess he forgot we were in the middle of that darned pandemic.

For his sage advice, I was charged $55. He was in our house for maybe five minutes. He looked delighted to find he couldn’t work on our fridge. I imagine a perfect day for him would be $55-a-minute service calls and not having to work on a stinky refrigerator on any of those calls.

We called an authorized repair person from Sears. A very nice man named Juan came the next day and said it was the compressor — a $1,000 part still under warranty — but it had to be ordered, of course, and they couldn’t come back to install it for another week and a half. As luck would have it, Memorial Day weekend was looming and no work could be done at this time.

The next day, my husband was cleaning up his office and shredding documents when the shredder shut down. He worked on it for awhile in the garage and then sensibly put it out on the curb, along with the broken doggie gate, a s’mores maker, and an old sheet. Someone picked up every item by 5:00 pm that very day.

To think my daughter scoffed, “No one is going to want a broken-down shredder that’s torn apart.” How little she knew.

On Saturday morning, that same daughter walked onto the back patio where I was enjoying coffee and my new book on my Nook tablet.

She said, “I hope this doesn’t make you cry, but the shower head just fell out of the wall. The pipe is broken, and it’s lying on the shower floor now.” I cried just a little bit.

The next day, while I was reading that new and fabulous book on the Nook tablet, it wouldn’t let me “turn” the pages. A weird message came up: “Sorry! Activity Reader (in application Reader) is not responding. Pick a box: Wait or Force Close.” Any ideas out there as to what that means?

Bottom line, it means my Nook tablet doesn’t work anymore, and I was right in the middle of an important plot twist.

Back to our refrigerator problem.

Our daughter bought a mid-size fridge to get us through this stressful period. Actually, she ordered one from Home Depot on a Wednesday. They said it would be ready for pickup that day but to wait for their text. She called them a few times, and they kept saying “We’ll let you know when it’s ready. We’re very busy right now.”

The next morning, she did get a text. It said, “Your order has been canceled.” Hmmm…not by her.

On Thursday, moving on, she found another fridge at another Home Depot and we were able to pick it up that day. All four of us went: Larry, Janet, Maddy and I. It was an outing for us! Funny how excited one can get about picking up a small refrigerator in an old dirty truck during a pandemic.

We’ve been surviving using our ice chests — one large, one small. We had an ice chest on the back porch, then brought it in because it was so hot out, then took it out again because it was leaking. Janet has made dozens of trips for ice. We’ve “borrowed” space in her sister’s freezer, but there’s not much room.

Every day I go to the old fridge and open the doors (not working), then to the ice chest, wherever it isn’t, then to the recycle trash bin (which I had moved to another location to accommodate the ice chest), wherever it isn’t, then to the garage where the new fridge is. Inevitably, I forget where something is or what I wanted in the first place.

Also on Monday, the same day the refrigerator died, our landline phones were cut off. I was transferring from Spectrum to AT&T, but the transition wasn’t supposed to happen until midnight, and then we were supposed to wait a couple of days to make sure it was working before we canceled Spectrum.

AT&T sent me messages and emails saying our equipment would be arriving soon. What equipment? We were changing the phone line. When I called them, the customer service rep told me how to get it going, but our phone line didn’t fit into the new AT&T modem.

She didn’t understand anything and had no notes in our file to tell her what was going on, so she transferred me to someone in a foreign country. Our connection kept fading in and out, and anyway, I couldn’t understand her accent, and she couldn’t understand me.

I ended up telling her goodbye and that I was too tired to deal with any of it any more. I had already been on the phone for a couple of hours.

She said they would call me the next morning. They never did. And that’s a good thing because — remember? — I could not understand her and she could not understand me.

I guess we won’t have a landline any more, and maybe we just don’t need it. It is nice to not have the constant stream of calls from scammers.

Of course, my cell phone is old and not holding a charge, so I’ll probably have to purchase a new one.

It’s no wonder I put my shorts on backwards this morning.

The End

P.S. Our printer doesn’t work either. I had it “fixed” last week, and it worked for about one day. I did find out my computer has many international IP addresses, including one from the Russians. I KNEW they were behind all of this.

Headshot of Jeanie MillerJeanie Miller is a 77-year-old woman, which, she says, is very hard to put down and see in writing. She is married with two daughters and one grandchild, and currently transitioning from dyed to white hair. Jeanie worked on and off — mostly secretarial/administrative assistant jobs — from the time she was eleven until she was 62, when she retired early to look after her parents. She says she didn’t really start to write until she was in her sixties, but always had stories running around in her head. Read more of Jeanie’s writing on her blog:

Note: This essay is part of Writing Through Change, a series of posts and guest articles about life and writing in unsettled times.


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15 thoughts on “My Personal Pandemic – Guest Post by Jeanie Miller

  • Patti Andersen

    Jeanie, I love you & your writing ✍️. Even though I have read your work many times over, I still am delightfully laughing as if it was my first time.. I’m talking belly laughs. It’s so refreshing & rewarding just to laugh with you, I remember all our wonderful adventures & times together over the years. So happy you have this forum to expose to the rest of the world to your spot on, quirky, hilarious, ever relatable points of view!!!
    Erma Bombeck is in heaven laughing along with all of us!! You are ever The Queen 👑 xoxo 😍Patticakes

    • Jeanie Miller

      You always know just the right thing to say, Patti. Thanks for your comment and support. Miss you guys and the great times we had together.


  • Marie E. LaConte

    Sorry for laughing, but LMAO! Only a fellow first-world citizen will read this and KNOW that every word of it is true, along with the anxiety and frustration of having to endure problems that should not be problems. And good for you– finally embracing white hair! I did it in my early sixties, going blonde first to avoid the root color delineation. There are rare sights more jarring than seeing the back of a brunette woman who turns around and displays senior-era wrinkles. Take your Nook to B&S if you can– I took Mom’s Nook there when it froze, and they fixed it.

    • Jeanie Miller

      Dear Marie,

      I did that very same thing; i.e., went blonde to help me endure the transition from brown to gray — last week, in fact.
      So appreciative of your reading of my story and that you can appreciate that our troubles really are so small, but expensive.

      Thanks for the tip about the Nook, too.

  • Sara A. Baker

    Entertaining…reminded me of what I encountered in my life just a couple of weeks ago…days in which I was riddled with one thing after another breaking or ceasing to work. I felt exasperated.

    • Jeanie Miller

      Dear Sara,

      Abundantly clear that everyone is going through something during this time. I think we could roll with it during normal times, but something like the pandemic makes it so much harder to endure.

      And…I must say, once more, I am so grateful for the roof over my head, the food on my table, and my family.

      Thank you!

  • Irene Hannigan

    Oh, my goodness Jeanie. You are certainly not alone! We, too have had a series of mishaps – no oven, a dehumidifier that bit the dust, a heating system that went on the fritz, a chimney cap that blew off the roof, and a plugged toilet but we’re still healthy and hopefully you are too! I enjoyed your writing and I loved the image of your shorts on backwards!

    • Jeanie Miller

      Hi Irene. Your post made me laugh so hard. Also reminded me that our toilet was plugged up, too, but it’s such a common occurrence that I didn’t even put it in my story.

      Still healthy! You stay that way, too, and

      thanks so much

  • Maria Endler

    Mahalo! Thank you! You described my past month exactly!I know I’m being awful, but I am soooo glad someone else was going through this misery! And I do sympathize, and bloody admire you for giving me a giggle!
    With us? Two fridges within 24 hours of each other! Sigh, and it took a month and a half to even replace one!!! Coolers, ice, more ice. More coolers, and, yes, my freezer was full, I had just received my Safeway order!!! Our main computer finally decided to croak; my son built that one for me in 2002! and of course, our old programs which served us so well, won’t work in the new one! Argh! I loved my Photoshop 2!!!The microwave died between the fridges and the computer! I stepped on my glasses while cleaning the kitty litter, so, how do I get new glasses? And that’s life, I guess! Oh rats! The washer is making weird sounds!!!

    • Jeanie Miller

      Dear Maria,
      Yes, I mentioned the “misery loves company” thing in another post. I feel sort of bad that it makes me feel better, but I guess it’s just human nature.

      Wow, you topped me with the fridges, but it sounds otherwise we had a very similar experience. I think my favorite thing about your post was the fact that you stepped on your glasses while cleaning the kitty litter. I laughed so much! Is that cruel? I may have that streak.

      Thanks so much.

  • Nancy Harris

    Hi Jeanie, Well……after the computer, e-mail problems I finally just read this. I read it previously but still made me laugh once again. I know it wasn’t funny when you were dealing with all the mishaps, but your writing makes it funny. And we definitely need humor these days and more of it than normal!! Keep on writing, look forward to reading more of your stories!!