Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

Welcome to my World---Woman, widow. senior citizen seeking to live out my days with a sense of whimsy as I search for inner peace and friendships. Jeez, that sounds like a profile on a dating app and I have zero interest in them, having lost my soul mate of 42 years. Life was good until it wasn't when my husband had a massive stroke and I spent the next 12 1/2 years as his caregiver. This blog has documented the pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties and finally, moving past it all. And now I’m ready for a new start, in a new location---a continuum care campus in West Michigan, U.S.A. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. (Just remember I'm looking through my prism which may or may not be the full story.) Stick around, read a while. I'm sure we'll have things in common. Your comments are welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Uber, Robots and Nonbinary People

Remember Ms. Social Worker from one of my last posts? The one who fell in an exercise class and went off to ER in an ambulance? Over the next five days she fell five times, went to ER twice and on neither trip have they found an explanation for her falls. Last night at dinner she got it into her head that maybe the falls were from an UTI and she wanted to go to an Urgent Care to get tested. She doesn’t drive and she has no relatives living in town. I haven’t driven after dark in ten years and wasn’t about to start now by putting myself in charge of a woman who is almost more black and blue than white these days. So instead I offered to go with her in an Uber so she wouldn’t be alone. 

I’ve never been in an Uber before but just that afternoon I’d set up an account and downloaded the app because both times Ms. Social Worker went to ER she had to come back home in an Uber because no one here who offered to pick her up was answering their phones to an unknown number. She’s been using the service for a couple of years so other than the high cost of getting around that way, it wasn’t that big of a deal for her to leave the hospital in an Uber. I thought about being in her shoes and it would be a big deal for me thus I set up the Uber account and hope I never have to use it. I figured if I’m ever in that situation my brain would be too fogged up to jump through those sign-up hoops and boy was I right. After being at Urgent Care for two and a half hours Ms. Social Worker couldn’t figure out how to use the damn app she’d been using for two years. I was starting to panic. I couldn’t read on her tiny phone to see if I could figure it out and I didn’t want to order a ride with mine for fear we’d both be successful at the same time and two cars would show up. Finally after fifteen whole minutes she got it to work and then she claimed she had to charge half the ride to me. Say what? Why? 

Both our to and from Uber drivers where in their early 30s---big, dark black guys who were super nice to us granny types and I got to sit in the front seat with both because their cars where too small to get my friend’s walker in the trunks. It went in the back seat with her. What is it with black guys and gold chains? Watching baseball this summer I noticed most of the black players were decked out with gold chains that I’m sure where real gold. I’m not so sure I can say that about those on the Uber drivers and if they are no wonder the fares are so high. Ms. Social Worker claims taking Ubers is cheaper than owning your own car and she might be right on that. Even though I don’t drive much anymore I dread the day when I might have to give it up. Don’t we all dread that day as we age? I dread it but I won't fight it. But maybe you’re like so many seniors who refused to admit their driving skills and/or health dictates they're a danger on the roads. And before someone asks, assisted living gets transportation here on the continuum care campus but not in the independent living section. Our Resident Council hopes to change that. Have I told you lately how happy I am that I opted out of being part of that council? They do love their meetings. 

The latest thing the Council came up with is a contest to name our two new robots. The food service bought them for an ungodly amount of money. I can’t remember if it was fifteen thousand a piece to buy them or to rent them but we’ve only had them a week and already one ran into a cart of dishes and crashed a lot of them to the floor and soup gets slopped over the edges of the bowls. For the contest we have to pay five bucks for each pair of entries we suggest but the winner will get half the jackpot and the other half goes to the benevolent fund. The entries will get voted on by mostly the people in management with the guy who came up with the idea being the only resident to vote. I’m going to enter Elvis and Priscilla plus Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia (Luke and Leia for short) and Wilma and Fred Flintstone. 

One day at lunch the server announced that the robots arrived and someone asked if they were boys or girls and he said “One is male and other is nonbinary.” You would not believe the argument/debate that happened afterward and continued for over an hour when one of our more ‘colorful’ residents said she didn’t believe in that "nonbinary crap." 

"A person is male or female and that’s it!” she said in no uncertain terms.

I told her she needed a biology lesson and that there are people born with the genitalia of one sex but the brain wiring of the opposite sex---usually looking male but being wired as a female. I had recently read a research article at 23 & Me about how that happens in the development of a fetus and I explained it to her in great detail. Two others at the table backed me up and 4-5 others seemed fascinated by stuff they hadn't heard before. Ms. Colorful was her normal closed-mind self and went on to blame child sexual abuse on society for making up new words up like 'nonbinary.' She’s a Fox and Trump fan so, of course, that makes sense to her. I had a really good time debating that day because it wasn’t politics yet I could talk back to her in a knowledgeable way I wouldn’t do with current events. And I was having a good 'word' day speech wise.

But it is a topic more current than I thought it was because a few days later when I was at Urgent Care with my friend the form she filled out asked her to check a box: male, female or nonbinary. I had told Ms. Colorful she was a bully for not acknowledging that people with ambiguous genitalia exist and that ‘nonbinary’ is just a word for something that’s been around since time began. But I’ve got to admit I was shocked to see it as a choice on a medical form. It made me laugh out loud.  

Living in a sandbox full of fully developed people with all our personality tics, foibles and life experiences sure can be interesting in a walk-through-a-mine-field kind of way. Remind me someday to write about the guy living here who is a big prude baby who put his hands over his ears when anything that isn't sunshine and rainbows is mentioned. ©

44 comments:

  1. "...then she claimed she had to charge half the ride to me. Say what? Why?" That wasn't very friendly! šŸ˜Ÿ Good for you for not driving, though.

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    1. She had accidentally clicked that she was ride sharing and she couldn't figure out out to back out of it and since I'd just created an account that afternoon my phone number was in their system.

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  2. Ooh, now you have me thinking about an alternative driving method if I am discharged from a hospital. I do have a more than willing neighbor but what if they are busy? I do love to drive and dread the day I hang up my keys.
    Impressed you could debate nonbinary. I had to Google it to be sure it was what I thought.

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    1. So many people these days won't answer their phones if they don't recognize the number and that's what happened.

      Had I not just read the research article I couldn't have debated it and probably couldn't do it now as my short term memory doesn't retain the fine details.

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  3. You are a real friend to that woman! Accompanying someone to the ER via Uber is so kind of you. I suppose Uber is cheaper than owning a car overall, but I will struggle when I have to give up my car, cost notwithstanding.

    I also applaud your ability to defend non-binary folks. Have you read the novel Middlesex? Great read (it won the Pulitzer) and pretty eye opening. Not exactly the same, but in the same vein.

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    1. I would not like using Uber on a regular basis. There is a lot of waiting time involved. But it's a good back up and I usually have a back up plan. The day I signed up I spent the whole afternoon on an Uber message board for drivers and they had some interesting threads on there on topics like the scariest pick up you had, the nicest person you picked up, the funniest rider....stuff like that. It made me see that drivers have as much to fear from the public as we do from them. My friend here who uses the service all the time says 98% of the drivers she gets are interesting, good people---mostly black youngish guys or retired white guys.

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    2. P.S. Hope. I just read a summary of that book and from what I read it very much is in the same vein. The only problem I have with this topic is I wish they'd come up with a brand-new pronoun other than 'they' or 'them' to use instead of 'he' or 'she'. It's awkward and we're too used to 'they' being a plural.

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    3. Completely agree on they/them. Whenever I run into it, I am confused and invariably reread to figure out what I'm missing. LOL.

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  4. This is a story that repeats throughout life. Helping someone, a friend, then finding out that someone is close-minded, yet part of your world. Then the inevitable musing on how someone can deny reality which is obvious to everyone else. Been there, done that.

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    1. Ms. Social Worker and the closed minded person are not one-and-the same. The thing with charging half the ride to me was because her brain wasn't function at the time and she accidentally clicked that we were sharing a ride and she couldn't figure out how to undo it. She's going to pay me back when the charge comes through.

      The other individual's closed minded has been well known to since moving in. She's a Maga Trumper, and anti-vaccier. Impossible to avoid and she can be a lot of fun but I usually hold back around her very vocal opinions.

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  5. I've already had experience giving up driving and my car once. In 2013-2015, I became progressively weaker and was also on anti-seizure meds for trigeminal neuralgia. I couldn't drive. I didn't mind not driving so much, but I did mind giving up my 17-year-old 45,000 mile pristine red Acura. It had been the first car I'd picked out for myself. But, sure that I would never drive again, it was my idea to sell it and get rid of the insurance and maintenance costs. We sold it to the parents of a young man, with the parents buying it for him as a surprise birthday gift. Because I was sure it was going to be the nicest car they were going to find for the price and remembering the Studebaker Mom and Dad bought for me at his age so that I could help with driving chores since Mom didn't drive, selling it to them made me happy and suppressed the wistfulness. Later, I got a photo of a happy 16-year-old guy standing next to the shiny red car. I had already found alternative transportation through a CART system in our county and into the next county so that I wouldn't be dependent on my husband. That was important to me as he had been caretaking me already. In 2016, the first of two brain surgeries for trigeminal neuralgia unexpectedly returned my balance to me. Being able to eat something other than mush helped me gain back a little weight, and soon I graduated from seated exercise classes to dance cardio ones at the Y. I could drive again, and did, in our shared single vehicle after many practice sessions. I convinced my husband we should stay a one-car family, though. That's what we've done, and I'm now looking again at the CART system. A recent appendectomy turned up the surprise diagnosis of cancer--my third after breast cancer and skin cancers requiring reconstructive surgery--at a time my husband is losing mobility. It looks at this point as if it was fully contained in the appendix, but I don't want to be a burden on my husband or adult daughters. I'll use CART if necessary.

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    1. You sure have had your health issues! Giving up a car you truly loved must have been hard, but it sounds like you found a good buyer. I felt the same way when I sold my husband's Vette. The money was secondary to finding a person who loved the car as much as Don did. It's like giving away a part of yourself.

      As a past caregiver I can say your willingness to use CART is a gift to your husband and daughter. Caregivers get worn out and a little me time is really appreciated, a little less dependence on your part. I see that here with a couple of women who can't drive and their husband's are always tagging along and/or their wives don't want to ask them to take them places they'd like to go.

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  6. What a scary situation for your friend, to be fainting/falling all the time! I hope they figure out the cause very soon.

    I took the heat for taking my mother's keys away. It was absolutely necessary, but it was so hard for her, and I knew that. I've kept my promise to take her wherever she needs/wants to go, but of course it's not the same. Once, my brother let her drive again in a huge, empty parking lot. She did well and had fun. If you ask her about it, she rarely remembers it.

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    1. My brother and I did the same thing taking my dad's keys away. It went pretty well, actually. I took him to the DMV and got him a photo ID and turned in his driver's license and I kept the promise to take him on his errands and appointments for the next five years.

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    2. How are you feeling Jean? Bet you're getting along pretty well by now.

      I feel for the woman who keeps falling. A person wouldn't think of it being due to UTI, but I'm learning those infections can create all types of problems. Hope she's on the mend. It was kind of you to go to ER with her. That can be a lonely place!

      Oh Lord, I dread the day when hubby or I have give up our cars. This is kinda funny, but back where we used to live, my husbands family had lived in the same location forever. They knew the older farmers who had given up their trucks/cars, but every once in awhile, here they'd come, driving down the road on a tractor or a lawnmower. It's hard to give up our independence.

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    3. My brother lived near an old farmer who took a tractor to the bar every Saturday night. LoL

      I'll write about it in another post but the UTI wasn't the cause of her falling. I'm doing fine and will try driving tomorrow. So far the only thing I can't do is whole a water glass with confidence.

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  7. I dig nonbinary, but really...assigning a sex to a robot?? It's a sexless machine!!

    As to answer/not answering unknown phone numbers: My phone is set to not ring at all but to go straight to voicemail if the number is not in my contacts listing. Either way, it gives me a visual note about having silenced a call and, if the person left a voicemail, my phone gives me an audible signal. This way, I don't miss important calls while minimizing the inconvenience of spam calls.

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    1. From what I'm seeing the way you handle phone calls is the most common way that seniors do. It doesn't bother me to answer spam, it gives me the opportunity to know my phone is still working and it only amounts to a couple of unwanted calls a week. I get too many calls that aren't in my contact list from people and places I actually want to to talk to.

      The waiter who said the robots were nonbinary and male was making a joke and the question was asked because of the naming contest. Lots of people name their cars, their boats, their computers and other things that they've assigned a sex to.

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  8. Fascinating post. It appears you're not having much trouble typing replies, and I'm impressed! Still no pain?

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    1. Nope, still no pain----just the first night it woke me up and I took an over the counter pill. The dressing came off on the third day and am supposed to wear a splint for another day. I did type almost an entire post for Saturday one handed but once the splint is gone I'll be able to type two-handed.

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  9. You might be interested in this article. What you describe as non-binary certainly is a part of it, but the meaning has expanded considerably. As for naming objects, boats always are "she," and from the very beginning my current car has been "Princess." Of course, my first car, a VW beetle, was named Mephistopheles, because it was a very devil of a car!

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    1. Interesting article. Thanks. I know I generalized too much with the umbrella word of nonbinary but that article explains it well for anyone else interested in the topic. And I was happy to learn there are new pronouns of "ze/hir/hirs " "ze/zir/zirs" " and "xe/xem/xyrs" that can be used instead of them/they. Like with all new words it will take the passing of time for them to become common usage.

      I've never named my car or trucks but my husband named his front end-loaders. I can't even pronoun your car's name. LoL

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    2. I've been thinking about this a good bit, and decided to come back and make clear what might not have been: that while I understand 'intersex' as perfectly appropriate for referencing individuals who've been born with mixed genitalia of any sort, the other options we're left with are 'male' and 'female.' And of course anyone is free to use whatever pronouns they like, but 'ze/hir/hirs' and such seems utter silliness to me. I don't think they'll ever become common usage, for a variety of reasons. Like 'LatinX,' they'll fade away -- no doubt to be replaced by something else.

      As for that VW, its nickname was "Mephy." Much easier.

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    3. I'll bet neither one of us will live long enough for the pronouns to get sorted out, but then again one hit movie can make certain slang words common and in use all over the world so who knows. Interesting topic, though.

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  10. I need to get out and people watch! Such great fodder for blogs.

    Retiring from driving is really tough. The six kids all got together and brought in a coordinated meal, then did the deed. We agreed that if he passed a driving test we might reconsider his driving abilities. The girls called his doctor to let him know and he in turn called the DMV. A month or two later he joined a living community were most of them seemed to have dementia. He fit right in.

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    1. I've said it for years that writing a blog forces me to get out and about to find fodder to write about. Otherwise I'd be content to sit at home and be a tomato or a potato.

      Lots of families do great things, helping their senior parents. I'm proud of my brother's kids for stepping up to the plate. It's not easy.

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  11. Please put these essays into a book. You don't have to tell anyone but tell me and I'll buy a bunch of copies. I promise!

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    1. I'm flattered but it's not going to happen. I have several other books in mind that will be more fun for me to work on.

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  12. I was going to say no good deed goes unpunished, but then I read in the comments that the falling down lady is going to pay you back half the cost of the Uber. That's good. Nonbinary - that conversation came up with a lady in one of my classes. She was pissed off because someone she knows gets upset when said lady uses the wrong pronouns. I suspect she has been told the correct ones several times but still can't get with the program, which I would find irritating too. Just address people the way they ask, and apologize when you slip up (as is bound to happen, especially in the beginning). It's that simple and it's good manners.

    Deb

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    1. Did you see my reply to Shoreacres? Apparently there are suggested new pronouns that are don't require us changing the meanings of established definitions of the words they/them. Your logic makes sense and is the kinder row to hoe. BUT on the other hand I think it's unrealistic to expect society to adapt 'them/they' to mean something different than they've been for centuries and to do it in such a short span of time.

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    2. Yes, I would like to see other pronouns adopted instead of they/them as I find it awkward and I struggle and get confused because I think someone is referring to people in plural when the words are used this way. But if it doesn’t turn out that way, I’ll adapt.

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    3. Me too. We'll know when that times comes because the dictionary people will officially adapt their definition because that means it's in common use enough to stick.

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  13. Nonbinary robots I get but nonbinary people are another matter, I have never taken a Uber, my daughter thought about being a Uber driver but decided it wasn't for her

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    1. It would be a hard way to make a living, I think. Better for a part time job.

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  14. You came to offer her emotional support so she wouldn't be alone during a vulnerable time and then she expected you to share the expense of the ride! As for Nonbinary, don't know specifics about it, but know that there is a lot in the development of fetuses that we probably know very little about and which the outcome during Life can be contributed to. I know that my Grandson from the Toddler Age presented more as a Girl than a Boy and told us he felt like a Girl and people often mistook him for a Female from the very Young Age all the way to now in his Twenties. He has a very Androgynous look that made people unsure if he was Male or Female. Now he tells me he feels like both Genders and one isn't necessarily more dominant than the other so he just prefers to be called Them, I have a hard time not referring to him as a he tho', the plurality isn't something you are used to saying about a single person.

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    1. People accept other birth defects that happen in the development of a fetus, I don't understand why sexual ambiguity is so hard for some people to wrap their minds around. Just because it's out in the open now doesn't mean it's a new thing or a 'fad' as some people think. I suppose there are people in the community of nonbinary people who don't want to think of their sexuality as a birth defect but in my mind it is. I knew a kid who was like your grandson and his life was so hard he ended up killing himself. But your family accepts your grandson for who he/she is and that makes a huge difference. That was one of the things we were debating that made me call the other woman a bully because if she refuses to acknowledge androgynous and nonbinary people even exist---she thinks they are playing acting for attention. How does that make them feel when they are dismissed that way?---bullied in my book.

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  15. Did they ever find out why she is falling? You know I've never taken an Uber and hope I never have to but it's part of our world I suppose. When living in a big city as I did a year ago I'd just call a taxi and felt safer. But living where I ive now no taxi's so it would have to be an Uber.
    Hope you are healing well!

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    1. I'll explain the falls in the Saturday post.

      As for Ubers...all our lives we're told not to get in cars with strangers until now all that is out the window. There are safety stuff to check but it is a weird experience. But I like having the back up plan when you don't have family or close friends near by. I would not go down town to pick up someone from a hospital therefore I would never ask another senior citizen to do it for me.

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  16. My oldest grandkids have been changing their pronouns and I just try to call them whatever they want me to call them. I am just happy to hear from them and will love them no matter what name or pronoun they go by.

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    1. That's what grandparents should do, Accepting kids where ever they are at is so important.

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  17. Given their accidents to date, Mutt and Jeff might work.
    My 80-something folks moved back from Florida to Michigan to be near me when they had to quit driving. I was already retired, so it worked well. One of my best memories will always be our 11:00 daily scenic drives, in our lovely part of the state. They were happy to move back to Michigan for other reasons. Dad kept saying, I don’t want to die in Florida.

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    1. As hard as it can be sometimes to be the point person for a senior family member the 'job' does come lots of good memories like with your scenic drives. I had the same experiences driving my dad around in the last years of his life.

      Mutt and Jeff would be good. We were supposed to know the names by now but three+ people came down with Covid and the meeting got canceled.

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  18. I wonder if Ms. Social Worker, in her confusion, asked you to pay half the cost of the Uber out of old habit. Often in social situations everyone pays their own way. It sounds like her confusion with the Uber app, the fear and stress she felt over her falling episodes, her worry about what was causing them all clouded her rational thinking. She just reverted in that moment to what she knew about friend outings in the past. Or she was inconsiderate on purpose -- also good to know about a person.

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    1. No, it wasn't intentional. She was so confused she just made a mistake on the app and couldn't figure out how to undo it. She is back in the hospital after her 7th fall, this time its been a week. No word coming out way yet but we all fear she won't be coming back this time.

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