by Liz Alterman
The phone rings in the quiet, suburban kitchen of a 44-year-old woman who, when she isn't constantly interrupted by her aging parents, works from home.
Mom: Honey, we're in the car, just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina, and your father would like to have lunch at an Outback. Can you pull up your computer and see if we're near one?
Daughter: Um, I don't think the Outback is open yet. It's only 10 a.m.
Mom: Your father says it will be open.
Daughter: OK, where are you exactly? "Outside of Raleigh" is kind of vague.
Mom: Ed, where are we?
Daughter: You know, if you ask Siri, she'll help you with this.
Mom: Honey, you know Siri never understands me. She makes me feel like I have a speech impediment and I know you're so fast with these things.
Daughter: OK, there's one on Capital Boulevard.
Mom: Ed, are we near Capital Boulevard?
Dad: [muffled] How the hell should I know?
Mom: Your father doesn't know where we are.
Dad: [unintelligible shouting]
Mom: Are there any others? Did I tell you we had the most fabulous breakfast at our Marriott?
Daughter: There's another one on Highway 70 West. If you just had breakfast, why are you stopping for lunch?
Mom: You know your father, and I do love that coconut shrimp. Any other locations? I'm writing these down. Ed, Ed, you're in the wrong lane. This lane says "Exit Only." You have to read the signs. Honey, I have to go. Your father needs me to act as his co-pilot. I'll call you later. Try to pep up.
10 minutes later
Mom: Your father couldn't get over so we had to exit and then we couldn't find the highway again. I've got Capital Boulevard and Highway 70. Are there any more in case we can't find those? Wait, what? Oh, your father thinks we're closer to Charlotte now. Sorry to be such a pest. Can you check there?
Daughter: There are a couple in Charlotte but they don't open until 4. I have a conference call in three minutes. Just ask Siri as you get closer.
Mom: Honey, you know I don't like that.
Daughter: Ok, I found one on Pineville-Matthews Road that opens at 11.
Mom: Great, honey, thank you so much. What's that, Ed? Oh, honey, your father just saw a sign for Arby's so we’re pulling off now. You know how he loves that — what do you call it? Horsey sauce? Ok, I have to go. Thanks for all your help. Can you see if this is a drive-thru? Your father doesn't want to stop. Oh, wait, forget it, he says he has to use the bathroom. He just took a water pill. I have to go. Try to have a good day, honey, you sound so stressed.
Mom: Honey, do you know Cousin Eileen's zip code off the top of your head? I think it's 07621 but I'm not sure. If you don't have it at your fingertips, don't worry about.
Daughter: Hold on, I'll look it up.
Mom: Did I tell you, I think the gift I sent your cousin Jennifer is lost? I didn't put her apartment number on it. I should've called you to have you look it up.
Daughter: Didn't she just move last week? I don't know if it would be listed yet.
Mom: Honey, you can find anything. You have to have more confidence in yourself. This is why you're stuck in that lousy job.
Daughter: Did you say "07621?" If so, that's the right zip code.
Mom: Oh, wait, honey, your father is at the computer and he's saying I have the right zip code. Ok, let me go, I have to get to the post office now. Try to have a good day. You sound a little down. Do not let those annoying people at your job bug you. I'll call you later!
Mom: Honey, Uncle Tommy and I are outside of BINGO and we have no idea how to get to the restaurant. I know you just gave me directions last week but can you just tell me again? We want to go to the place with the good potatoes.
Daughter: You're miles away and it's a lot of turns. Why don't you use the map app on your phone? It will find your location and talk you through it.
Mom: Honey, I'm not like you. I don't even know what that would look like. Listen, if you're busy, I'll just go in this pizzeria, though, wait, Tommy, is that man with the raccoon tattoo holding a lead pipe? Oh, no, it's a kitten. It's OK, honey, I'll just go ask them to direct me. Hold on, what's that, Tommy? You think you want pizza now? No, no, we'll find the restaurant. You are going to love these potatoes.
Daughter: OK, I'm going to send you a text with all the steps. Have Uncle Tommy read them to you.
Mom: Oh, honey, how do I find a text?
Daughter: It'll just pop up and then swipe and you can view the whole thing.
Mom: I'm not sure Uncle Tommy has his eyeglasses. I don't think he'll be able to read it.
Daughter: Listen, I'm sending you a screenshot of the directions. I've enlarged the font. You'll get it in a second.
Mom: Honey, my phone is making a strange noise. What the devil is this? Someone is sending me a big list. Tommy, do you know what this means? Is this a spam?
Daughter: No, Mom, those are the directions I just sent you.
Mom: Honey, listen, I have to go. Uncle Tommy has found a woman who's headed in the same direction and will lead us to the restaurant. It's so good to find someone who'll actually help you these days. OK, let me go. When you have time, why don't you try to find a new job? You sound so exasperated every time I talk to you.
Liz Alterman is a writer who's covered a variety of subjects, from personal finance issues for CNBC.com to career advice for The Muse. A mom of three, her hobbies include reading, baking, and failed attempts at gardening. She blogs about the perils of middle-aged unemployment at On the Balls of Our A$$ets.