A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 46

What, me worry?

Thursday, April 23

According to the Times, the pandemic is leading to mass starvation around the world—and here I am fixated on our lack of walnuts and lemons. Some 135 million people could face starvation. Already in South America, India, and Africa there are protests over the lack of food. Parts of Africa also confront extreme drought and flooding, along with giant swarms of vegetation-eating locusts.

For my part, I’m thinking about going to the town dump—then maybe risking going to a small store to get stuff that Peapod failed to deliver.

I’m also fixated on paying bills. When we came out here seven weeks ago, I didn’t expect to be staying for so long, so didn’t give a lot of thought to bills. Now, I worry about just what I am forgetting and what would be the negative consequences of not paying. You can cover most bills online or over the phone, dealing with a voice-activated robot. But you generally need your account number to pay in those ways—and who has their account number? For that, you need the paper statements, which are waiting patiently in the mailbox back in Manhattan. 

This morning, I was able to make arrangements to pay the Suffolk County Water Authority, which will henceforth send paper bills to our East Hampton address. But Con Edison—and fuck them, any damn way—is virtually impossible to deal with. I doubt that they will shut off our electricity back in the city, even if we don’t pay for a few months. But it would ease my mind just to get it over with.

Question: When you are trying to pay, why do these automated systems demand passwords, account numbers, email addresses, social security numbers, and more? They seem to think you are trying to rip them off when you are simply trying to give them money. 

I made fair progress with the Con Edison online-pay function, but then they wanted to send me a security code via text…and the phone number they wanted to send it to is our land line back in the city. There was no alternative offered, other than to telephone their payment center. And there, I was stuck in telephone hell, punching 1 for this and 4 for that. I got close again, but when I wanted to pay with a credit card, they transferred me to their payment “partner,” who demanded the account number.

I’ll try again on another day. I did find out that we owe Con Ed $151.43 as of the end of the current month. So, it’s not very much.

We have 15 must-be-paid bills, and every one of them—including our three Verizon accounts—utilizes a different payment system.

And as Emily will certify, nothing drives me crazier than dealing with these telephone robots. 

Turns out, I’m not the only one having lots of dreams during the quarantine. The Guardian says the condition is, uh, epidemic. Apparently, Google searches for “weird dreams” have doubled since this time last year. I wonder how many people dream about ice cream or tomato sauce?

And speaking of food…tonight’s dinner will be chicken paprikash (made with some pretty old paprika), egg noodles, and spinach and avocado salad.

Entertainment: The final episode of Babylon Berlin and one episode of Nordic thriller The Hunters.

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