Is it possible to say I got Willied without it sounding sordid?
Because there was really nothing sordid about it.
It was, however, a typical day in the Willie Universe.
It started when Willie told me she needed to make a Staples run. Someone would have to take her.
Instead, I suggested she text my siblings because, contrary to Willie’s belief, I am not an only child.
And I am already working on Willie’s taxes.
Let’s just say, for now, that filing Willie’s tax return has required seven phone calls, three texts, one failed visit to the accountant, one Starbucks for Willie paid for by me, and five hours of sorting through Willie’s papers.
And those taxes still are not filed.
Once they are – buckle up, guys. That’s going to be a column and a half.
Confidential to my editors – I’m going to need a bit more space that week. Like, 10 percent more words.
Well, maybe 50 percent.
You know what? Let’s just devote all of our website to Willie’s taxes that weekend. Cool? Cool. Thanks.
Willie texted my siblings about going to Staples.
She also texted me.
Do you ever look at a text and growl? Like, an audible display of your frustration?
Yeah. I growled.
Thankfully, my sister immediately replied that she was available.
Then my brother texted me and my sister in our Willie-dominated group chat. He was available to take Willie as well.
But the next day, as I was dropping off Willie’s yogurt, Willie lamented that no one had replied to her text.
You know, I’m not sure which part of that sentence we need to unpack here. The yogurt? The missed text?
Well, since this story is about Willie and Staples, we’ll go with the supposed unanswered text.
Which I told Willie had, in fact, been answered.
I suggested Willie call one or both of my siblings to arrange the Staples outing.
Instead, later that day, Willie called me.
“I know,” Willie said, “that you told me your brother and sister replied to my text about Staples. But I don’t see it. I’m looking right at my phone and I don’t see it.”
What, Willie wanted to know, should she do?
In case you’ve lost track, this Staples excursion has taken one conversation, three texts, and two phone calls to organize.
And hasn’t even been executed yet.
From a glass-is-half-full standpoint, that’s only about a third of the work Willie’s tax return has required. So, you know. That’s a win.
I suggested that maybe Willie should call any one of her kids who had actually offered to take her to Staples.
Instead of, you know, me.
A day later, my sister texted the sibling-Willie group chat.
When my sister called to confirm the Staples run before picking up Willie, Willie told her not to come.
Willie had, that day, become quite involved in a project for the Temple of Doom. She didn’t want to break her stride. She was in the zone.
Also, she’d forgotten what she needed at Staples.
So despite a planning schematic only slightly less complex than the Apollo 11 mission, the Staples excursion was scrapped.
Now, I’m going to say something here. Something that’s maybe a bit irrational.
But let’s be honest. Rational left me a long time ago.
So I’m going to say it.
I think Willie is fine to ask for and receive my help. I think when I delegate that work to others, like my siblings, who are just as capable and maybe have a little more time because they’re not filing Willie’s taxes, it becomes a problem.
The argument goes, whenever I delegate, that my siblings are busy. That they have children.
Except that I am busy and I do have children.
Also, my brother’s kids are grown. Two are out of the house. One is about to get married. I have savings bonds younger than my brother’s kids.
But inevitably, when I delegate, the task at hand is no longer an issue.
Like the Staples run.
So I shouldn’t have been surprised when later – on the day of the failed Staples run – Willie called to say she was having trouble logging into her email. And her password database listed her password as being under my lock and key.
It’s not. But when you’re Willie’s personal yogurt DoorDasher and you’ve sorted through three feet and eight years of her paperwork, are you really going to debate password ownership? Your life has ceased to be your own. Why not let Willie project the script?
While I was not holding hostage Willie’s email password, I do know her password. So I dictated through the phone the steps Willie should take to open her email.
I’m much better at sifting through stacks of pharmacy receipts from 2017 in a ridiculous search for tax documents than I am at explaining passwords over the phone.
It’s a skill. I’m also great at finding financial documents Willie should have given me four months ago and vegetables in her fridge older than my savings bonds and brother’s kids put together.
When Willie couldn’t finagle the email login, I told her to sit tight. I was on my way.
“OK!” Willie said.
And that was when I knew. I knew Willie had won. I may not have taken her to Staples, but she had occupied a part of my day.
I had, I realized, been Willied.
This is life in the Willie Universe. We have yogurt, Starbucks you pay for but isn’t for you, and bank statements for an account closed three years ago languishing in a stack of papers held together with a rubber band and labeled “Birthdays.”