Updated: Mar 3, 2020
By Earl Fowler
My mother-in-law, who died a couple of years ago, knew I worked at a newspaper and concluded early on — presumably because of my deplorably casual weekend wardrobe — that I was a printer. She also had a routine for making tea that offered a peek into the sorts of quotidian struggles the not-too-distant future is brewing for us all.
How to make tea in your well-appointed cell in a modern assisted-living facility
1) Prepare cup and tea bag.
2) Fill kettle with water.
3) Turn on kettle.
4) Retreat to armchair while waiting for it to come to a boil.
5) Fall asleep.
6) Wake up and find that all the water has boiled away.
7) Repeat steps 2-6 until it’s time to go to bed.
8) Try to wind alarm clock.
9) Realize that you no longer have the strength.
10) Have printer buy you another electric one instead.
11) One must have four or five clocks on one’s night table, all set to different times.
12) It is the simplest model, he said, but there are still five buttons.
13) He showed me which button is for the alarm, but now that it is sounding …
14) I am so weary and confused. Is it the clock sounding? Maybe it’s the stove.
15) I can either let the buzzing continue or unplug the electric clock.
16) Unplug clock, plug in kettle.
17) The printer had his shirt untucked when he was showing me how it worked.
18) How much longer before he starts appearing at social events with shirttails signalling through an open fly that it is perpetually 6:30?
19) Retreat to armchair while waiting for kettle to come to a boil.
20) Fall asleep rueing printer’s decision to buy another bloody clock that doesn’t work.