Yesterday, I had a nice long Zoom chat with an old friend.
I know this is nothing remarkable these days, but it was the first time my friend, Andrew, had used Zoom and I was frankly a little surprised.
Andrew isn’t on Facebook. “It’s none of anyone’s business what I’m up to!” he tells me.
I don’t think Andrew is “up to” all that much, but he takes a particularly fierce view on privacy. He won’t buy groceries with his credit card if they are going to track what he buys.
“Why would you care if someone knows how much broccoli you’re buying?” I ask. “Maybe they’ll give you a coupon.”
“It’s none of their darned business how much broccoli I’m buying!” Andrew tells me.
He still has the same email account he’s had since the ’90s. He still has the same telephone answering machine. He recently got a cell phone, but he doesn’t text. Andrew answers emails, but they take about as long as standard first-class mail to arrive and get a response. Still, it’s all worth it because he is a good friend and he always has a lot of interesting things to say — once I get ahold of him.
Like nearly everyone else, Andrew has been a little lonely. He lives alone and his work doesn’t involve much human interaction. I usually see Andrew a couple of times a year when we go to visit my family. But that hasn’t happened this year and it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen for a while.
I was contacted by a mutual friend of ours on Facebook about having a Zoom chat with a bunch of high school buddies. I told him that would be fun and he should invite Andrew — by email, of course. Andrew thought that sounded great and we decided to try out this Zoom thing in advance. That turned out to be a good idea.
Andrew didn’t use his real name (of course) so, for a time, I was looking at a blank screen that said, “GREAT.” But then he got the video working and he appeared in front of his bright kitchen window.
“Unmute,” I messaged him. He did. I still heard nothing. I called him on the phone. “I can’t hear you,” I told him. Then added, “Your hair is really short.”
“I cut it myself.”
“Well, your mic isn’t working.”
“I know I’ve used this microphone before!”
“Let’s see it.” Andrew waved the headset and microphone in front of the camera.
“Andrew, that is a really old headset.”
“It is not old!”
“Yup,” I told him, “that’s a collectible. I think maybe you should call up the folks at Antiques Roadshow. I bet they’d be interested.”
“Ha, ha!” Andrew said. After several more tries he reluctantly admitted that the ancient microphone might not connect to his current computer.
“I guess I’ll need a new microphone,” he grumbled. “But we can still talk on the phone.”
And we did. We put our phones on speaker and we looked at one another in our monitors and we talked for a long time. I realized, once again and with force, how essential this connection is. It was so good to see my old friend’s face — even if his camera was a little fuzzy, even if the light was shining rather brightly behind his closely shorn head.
“Oh my gosh! I’ve got to go,” I said, when I realized how long we’d been talking.
“We should do this again.” Andrew said.
“Yes!” I agreed.
We definitely need to do this again.
Till next time,
Carrie Carrie Classon’s memoir is called, “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.