Some things that didn't help

The pandemic has robbed me of every activity I used to enjoy and every coping mechanism that used to kinda-work. As such, material for this newsletter has been thin.

Here are some things that “didn’t-help” a little less than everything else “didn’t-help.”

Spam from Fidelity Investments dot com: when I left my previous job almost 2 years ago I withdrew all the money from my 401K except for, like, $.78, “just in case” I needed that account down the road, who can analyze this decision even. The balance is apparently enough to keep me on their email lists, so from time to time I receive emails with subject lines like “ARE YOU READY FOR RETIREMENT??” and “HOW DO YOU KNOW YOUR INVESTMENTS ARE WORKING FOR YOU?” , which I can always answer instinctively and confidently: “No!”, “n/a!,” etc. A rare sensation of certainty in these uncertain, unprecedented times.

Chat conversations with customer service bots: several months ago a jumbo pack of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese was misrouted through the USPS by its 3rd-party Amazon Affiliate seller, and the seller refused to issue me a refund. I took it to the Amazon Customer Service chat line. I laid out the situation to an obviously AI bot. “let us check that for you Ruth!” ‘Prasan’ typed. I was not strictly entitled to a refund under Amazon rules, so I had low hopes. I had really just wanted the Kraft macaroni back in September or whatever. It was now December. I cycled between tabs waiting and then accidentally closed the chat window. I stared into space, drained of the initiative to restart the interaction. This was a sign, god did not want me to have the macaroni or my money. Minutes passed, perhaps longer, who knows. “Guess what??” Prasan typed, reappearing as if by magic. I actually could not guess! This was a deviation from the AI script! Or a master subversion of it! I got 22.93 back and I still think about this almost every day.

Guess what!! I actually can’t.

More spam: like 10 years ago I ordered a pizza from an airport hotel in Winnipeg and I’ve been on their mailing list ever since, even though I am pretty sure I’ve unsubscribed at least twice. The establishment is named Pizza Hotline Takeout & Delivery and their emails come from Pizza Hotline. Since I immediately associate the word “hotline” with “Suicide Hotline” this gives all their marketing emails a hilarious sense of urgency and portent. It’s a pizza emergency, call the hotline!

I’ll be here forever, laughing alone about this.

Until next time,


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