Over the last year, many people have accomplished many things in the face of trying circumstances. Dug deep within their hearts to find reserves of grit and resolve. Were tried in the fire and found worthy. Indeed, this last year has, for many, proven to be a cocoon from which just now we see many butterflies emerging; strong, joyful, and beautiful.

And then some of us just spent a lot of time on the phone to the Unemployment Office trying to get our damn money. The majority of this time wasn’t spent talking to humans, or even robots, it was spent on hold, listening to the same song ad nauseum. 

Fortunately for pseudo-inspirational Covid 19 narratives, I’m good at multi-tasking. Great at it. Here are the five most powerful things I accomplished while waiting to talk to an operator about why my promised UE Benefits were being withheld.

5. Peeled and Sliced Potatoes

Like lots of folks during Covid, I decided it was time to ply my trade in the kitchen and become a culinary genius. Didn’t happen. But I do know at least eight more recipes than before and am especially good at breakfast. One of the more boring parts of breakfast prep is peeling and slicing potatoes for hashbrowns/country potatoes, so I figured it was a perfect thing to do while waiting for UE to pick up. 

Why So Powerful: While this was a favorite activity during my hold times, it wasn’t exclusive to those times. This activity is easily done while watching a movie, TV show, or ignoring overlong Facebook chats from friends.


4. Crunches/Planks/Situps

Once again best done with the phone on Speaker. This occurred most frequently during “workout week,” which is exactly what it sounds like. There has only been one so far during the pandemic but believe you me I was looking good. Sadly, no one saw because even though it was during a brief “more open” period over summer I was too poor to leave the house and do anything because fucking godamn Unemployment Office.

Why So Powerful: Despite the endorphin rush that a half-hearted attempt at a workout can provide, it’s nowhere near the thrill of. . .


3. Deep Cleaning My Entire Bathroom

The. Whole. Thing. And they still didn’t answer.

Why So Powerful: Clean bathrooms are powerful, even (especially?) when you live alone and the reality of a killer virus means you won’t be having anyone over soon.

2. Memorized Note For Note the Guitar Solo On the Surprisingly Sick Hold Music, Taught Myself How to Read and Compose Music, and Wrote Half of a Rock Opera Based On Said Solo

After many hours listening to the same piece of instrumental music, one starts to appreciate it. In this case, what initially registered as bland hold music eventually revealed itself to be an intricate exploration of musical themes incorporating prog, jazz, and hints of classic rock. The guitar solo, in particular was something I looked forward to hearing again, on loop, every minute and a half for both its tasteful shredding and melodic aptitude. It captured my imagination in ways few pieces of music have. I was inspired to start composing my own interpretation of the themes, but ran out of room on my phone and ended up burning my paper notes during one of my three “minimalist” phases. 

Why So Powerful: Creative inspiration like this is hard to come by; it’d probably be number one were it not for the nagging thought that this, much like thinking the Student Loan Lady has a sexy voice, may be a mild to severe case of Stockholm Syndrome.

1. Swore a Lot

In a lot of damnfuckingshitass different combinations. When will they pick the fuck up?!?

Why So Powerful: Read the above swear word combo aloud and tell me you don’t feel like you could bench press a rhino. Or spend an afternoon– or several– on hold.