Meals on Wheels

5 min readMar 21, 2021



“Oh, hi Ben, so good to hear from you! How is that husband of yours doing?”

“Really? That is great, he deserved that.”

“Yeah, we are doing ok here as well, thanks for asking”.

“Sure, I have time to chat. You might want to grab a drink though; I have already opened a bottle.”

“No, no, nothing bad, just my mother is driving me bonkers again. You know the story.”

“Haven’t I told you yet that she has to wear one of these smart bracelets now? … What? … Yes, since she had that fall.”

“God, have we not spoken for so long? Ok, let me start at the beginning. Mother had a fall a couple of months ago. Not too bad, but she had to have a little operation on her hip. It was a rather small thing. She just stayed at the hospital overnight and then she was done with it. You know Claire, she normally is the centre of attention everywhere she goes, dancing, chatting, helping others. But in hospital, she was really quiet. Not herself at all. Her doctor got really worried how this might affect her in the long run. So, he prescribed her one of these smart bracelets. The ones that measure … well, everything, really. The armband measures her heart rate and stuff and there are a couple of sensors in the house that connect to the bracelet. Anything out of the ordinary will trigger a notification. If there is a problem or just something changes in her behaviour, the emergency contact will be alerted. And well, I am my mother’s emergency contact. I wasn’t too sure how I felt about that, but there wasn’t really someone else. You know I love her to bits, but we had so many fights and quarrels in the past. We have a bit of a problem setting our boundaries. I was afraid that this might make it worse. And yeah, sometimes it does.”

“No, it is not at all like these emergency buttons. Can you imagine Claire wearing one of these ugly things around her neck? No no, it is actually quite stylish. You can change the colour of wristband and she is absolutely into colour matching, so she has four or five now.”

“What? Yes of course she picked the house sensors too, haha. And the idea is that you do not have to push a button, but that it actually detects emergencies on its own. Maybe even notifies you before it comes to that. It sounds like such a good idea, but whoever designed it has clearly never met my mother.”

“What she does? Nothing. Nothing out of the ordinary. But for her standards, not mine. I get about daily notifications as the system tries out to figure her out. I told you she has a problem with her hips, right? But she has discovered tinder a while ago and now she uses it like other people use meals on wheels. She cannot go out much, but she gets a lot of visitors and, well not all come for tea and biscuits, so I get a lot of notifications that she is in and out of bed at unusual times. Imagine, I get a notification that says: Your mother just lay down outside her usual sleeping times, maybe you want to check on her? So, for the first times, I tried to get in touch with her, which normally meant that she got quite angry with me or tried to ignore me. Which I get now, I mean you are just getting in the mood and then the fucking phone rings. Nobody likes that. But when she called back, she would tell me all about her newest conquest, so now I know. Too much. John and me have started to call the ringtone of the application the Get lucky, because I can tell you quite often when my mother is going to …. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am really happy for her, that she is living her life to the fullest, but maybe I do not need to know all that.”

“Yeah, I know. But there are some other things I just don’t like. I mean, it wants to prevent illnesses and someone being in trouble. But I also get a couple of notifications that apparently, she is day drinking and whether I want to check on her. And honestly, I assume she is just having a good time with someone who brought a bottle over and even if not … she is a grown-up. I mean, what am I to do with the information? I hope she would tell me if she was feeling down … and if not, that is kind of her business too, right? But yeah, so I get a lot of notifications that I cannot really switch off in case something really bad happens. She cannot switch it off because it is linked to her health insurance now and she loses benefits when she switches it off. Her premiums have gone down because the device interprets a lot of her activity as exercise.”

“I know, it is quite cool, that she has always been so open about her sexuality and all. So, it is not like this is news to me, it is just the level of information that I get from these sensors is quite stunning. And today, it just went over the top. Today, we found a new feature of the device. When the mics detect something they cannot interpret, they send a snippet to you. For you to decide if you want to intervene. AI is not there all the way, is it? So, today I had the pleasure to listen to a guy spanking my mother. Or my mother spanking a guy. They were both equally excited, so it was hard to tell from the sound alone. And you know what, I get it. I get what the thing wants to do. But how is it to know what I might want to know and what is really none of my business?”

“Yeah, that is quite tough, isn’t it? But anyways, maybe enough of my mother’s sex life? I assume you know more now than you wanted. What is new with you?”




I make zines & stuff. Design. Research.Dementia & Mental Health, Craft & Activism