At 2AM on April first, I got a phone call. I didn't answer it.
At about 8AM we got another, from a family member, asking if we'd also gotten the 2AM call. The 2AM call had been from the father-in-law's alarm company. They'd lost the signal to his alarm, and couldn't reach him by phone, which is why they called. Since we didn't answer, they continued down his call list to the other family member. They had also tried calling and got no answers. With the stay at home order, and other considerations, they weren't comfortable checking on him, and didn't think a police call seemed necessary. We decided that later in the day, if we didn't get him on the line sooner, I should go check. At the time, it seemed like a good excuse for a motorcycle ride; later, knowing it would be late, and wanting to bring 4-foot light bulbs, I decided on the Jeep.
The work morning proceeded like normal. Video meetings, and on-line chats. The kids were content for a while on their electronics, too. After lunch, when the little little finally went down for his nap, I took off.
He lives about 60 miles away. It takes a little longer than an hour to get there, so I settled in for a social distancing solo ride, and took off. I made a quick stop at the local Home Depot, to fetch some LED replacements for some of his failed fluorescent lights. I'd replaced a bunch before, but he had one or more (I couldn't remember) sets that didn't take the drop-in replacements; and needed ballast-bypass replacements. So I grabbed a box (they only had them in 10-packs...I've got some I'll replace, too), and a soda, and then set out. I did manage to make it through the store without doing more than walking past someone in an aisle (and I chuckled a little as we both seemed to hold our breath and face away as we walked within shorter than 6 feet, quickly passing without exhaust-gassing on each other).
An hour later, I rang his doorbell. He was pleasantly surprised to see me, and grumbled about not hearing the phone for any of the calls. When he checked, sure enough, there were a half-dozen missed calls. I asked about his cell phone, but he keeps that turned off so that it's ready to go when he leaves his house.
He helped me disconnect the ballast and put in the new LED lights. He was delighted that the lights just popped on, bright to start, and very white. His kitchen was illuminated for the first time, apparently in about a year. It turns out he didn't have any other fluorescent lights that needed replacing. He had an intermittently failing little one over his sink, but it was currently working. He also has a dozen overhead spotlights high in his A-frame ceiling that are all burned out, but he doesn't have a ladder high enough to reach them, nor a bulb-changer stick. So maybe next time.
We looked at his phone. He was sure the wife set it to ring loud when she was there. Turns out he picked up an intercom system, with a base and three satellites. The base rings very loud, but the wireless remotes do not. We sampled all of their available ring tones at the highest volume, but he couldn't hear any of them. I suggested he needed to seek a phone specifically made for those with hearing loss. Especially since he couldn't really hear the television, which was cranked way loud with his high-end sound bar.
We talked about his hearing aids, and how it works great, for a while, and then his ears clog. I suggested he should check with his doctor or audiologist, and maybe try to get a less intrusive ear mold, that wouldn't obstruct his ear canal. I also suggested he test it with the earpiece hanging outside his ear, as he might still benefit from the focused amplification or any sound manipulation it might do. Especially for the short times he might need to be on the phone, or want to watch something like the news. I also suggested he turn off the television volume, and turn on the closed captioning, so that he could read what was being said. Or do a little of both hearing aid and captioning.
Then we spent probably too long playing with his tablet. We'd gotten him a Samsung tablet with cellular internet some time ago, as he doesn't have internet to his house any other way. He doesn't have, and isn't sure he wants, a computer. He did say he might like a computer better, with its more normal display, mouse, and keyboard, but doesn't see the need. We played with Slack a little, and I showed him he could access the web. We did his 2020 census, which he was amazed at the end was so easy, even though he grumbled every time a new question appeared during the process.
He had a lot of coronavirus questions, which were hard to answer with his hearing, so I showed him some of the sites on his tablet. He grumbled a little at the fuss, saying that 200,000 people wasn't that many. I pointed out, that's just in the US, and that's just who have been confirmed by testing, and that's just really since February. He asked many of the right questions like "out of how many tested," and "what about those that don't know they have it," and "are all of the countries reporting accurately?" I popped him to a few sites that either asked the same questions or discussed them, inasmuch as they could. With this, I showed him how, with care, his tablet would search by voice, so he wouldn't have to try to type on the slightly weird keyboard that they sold with his tablet. Alas, the cellular internet access, and slight slowness of his tablet, made that less responsive than he was prepared for.
If he starts using it with any vigor, I'll get him a better keyboard. I dig my mechanical keyboards, like my Dierya, even with its weird font and slash key on the wrong side of the shift and arrow keys. My favorite, but too bulky to be portable is my Rymek, which I got from Indegogo for a relative steal, but now retails for like $200 (on perpetual sale for $150). And my Artek, which isn't mechanical, but a flat keyboard, has great responsiveness, and slips in my backpack. The Dierya and Rymek have fun eye-candy, with key effects as you type, the Artek is just backlit. I'd also like to figure out if his tablet could be made to automatically pair; it might be the keyboard he has now, but turning off the tablet or keyboard seems to require it to pair again.
Anyway. After a few hours, he was still chipper, super grateful for the illumination, both literal with his light, and figurative with all of the other information. He promised to give captions a try, and to try to practice with his tablet.
I returned home and everyone was in bed. Hopefully the evening went well for the wife.