March 20, 2020

#159 The Attic and Closet Show

by Reply All

Background show artwork for Reply All

This week, we open up the phone lines and check in on everybody.

If you want to know what we're up to in the coming weeks, check out


PJ VOGT: From Gimlet, well, from my apartment, this is PJ Vogt.

Back in the very early days of Gimlet a lot of our episodes were recorded from this tiny little barely-a-studio we got off Craigslist, it was technically called a whisper room. We called it the bungalow but anyway, just picture a phone booth, a slightly larger than average phone booth except for all black, completely black inside, fuzzy walls, extremely hot. One of the first things we did when it was clear the company was actually gonna work was move into real studios that had room for people in them, but when we did that, I actually kept that original studio. Like I got it disassembled, put it in my basement.I just sort of figured like you never know. Maybe one day it will come in handy. 

So that is where I am talking to you from today and for the foreseeable future: in my apartment in a closet in a small room inside that closet.

And the version of Reply All that we are gonna be making for now is not the show we planned to make you for you because that would not make any sense at all. Um, we're trying to figure out how to be here and with you guys through everything that's going to happen. Um what combination of information and making sense of the world and fun and distraction is going to feel right and appropriate, we don't know. We are going to figure that out in front of you. 

This week, we were not scheduled to make an episode, but we wanted to be here, so we’re here and the first thing we wanted to do was just open up the phone lines. We knew that everybody on Earth essentially was experiencing the exact same thing with very similar worries and we just wanted to hear how people were doing. So I got set up in this closet in this little room. 

Alex got set up in the attic of his house.

ALEX GOLDMAN: Alright guys I have to go back upstairs. Can I have a kiss please? [kiss noise] 

ALEX AND KIDS: Hoo hoo hoo, hoo hoo hoo...

PJ: Damiano was producing this, he was in his apartment in Brooklyn.

DAMIANO MARCHETTI: Ok, I'm going to start this call-in ok?

WOMAN: Ok. See ya later.

PJ: We took calls Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and even in that time, what we heard was a world that was changing very rapidly. So this is a snapshot of this week in that world.

PJ: I’m not recording.

DAMIANO: Ok I’m recording.

ALEX: Oh shit! Fuck!

PJ: How are you feeling Alex?

ALEX: I'm exhausted. I just—I was just laying on my back in my attic, staring through the skylight. 

PJ: [laughs] Like on the floor?

ALEX: Yeah. 

PJ: Yeah, that's how I'm feeling mostly. Okay, so are we opening up the phone lines?

ALEX: Apparently we are? It seems that way. I mean, we're waiting on Damiano to open the phone line for us but...

DAMIANO: Okay. I can open them up right now. You guys ready?

ALEX: Yeah. 

DAMIANO: Okay. Here we go...

PJ: Alright, we’re live? 

ALEX: Yeah, alright I think that, here we go, I think we got a call.


ALEX: Hello?


ALEX: Hi, who's this?

ZORRO: Hello?

PJ: Hello?

ZORRO: This is Zorro, calling in from Paris. 

ALEX: Zorro?

ZORRO: Yeah. Just like the hero. 

PJ: What the hell? That's such a cool name!

ZORRO: Thanks guys. 

PJ: Is that, is that, is that a common name?

ZORRO: No, goodness. My parents had a real fun one. 

PJ: Sorry to ask you about something you must be so tired of being asked about but that's really cool. 

ZORRO: No, no problem. 

ALEX: How are things in Paris?

ZORRO: How are, how are things in Paris? Paris has gone into its first day of lock down. 

ALEX: And what does that look like?

ZORRO: It looks like the streets are empty. Police and certain military are going about them.

ALEX: Oh my god. 

ZORRO: If you're out in groups, or if you're out without a good reason or if you're out without a certificate that says you're going to work or to the bakery or to the pharmacy or to walk your dog, you get an 80-130 euro fine. 

PJ: How do you get the certificates?

ZORRO: You can download it on the internet or form kill it on a pdf on your phone. They'll accept that but lots of people are being turned back to their homes. 

PJ: What does it feel like?

ZORRO: Kind of ghostly. 

ALEX: Are you, are you hunkered down by yourself? Are you hunkered down with family, friends?

ZORRO: I'm with, I’m with my girlfriend and her parents and their two yappy dogs. 

ALEX: Your girlfriend and her parents?

ZORRO: Yeah. 

ALEX: How did that happen?

ZORRO: Well, as you can tell probably from the accent, I'm not originally French. 

My mum's French but I grew up in Australia and so all of my family live quite a way out. So I don't have very many people to hunker down with. 

PJ: Huh. 

PJ: Have they said how long the lockdown's gonna be in place for?

ZORRO: Yeah, so on—shit that was last night. Last night, Macron announced it for 15 days but the health agency predictions are that it's gonna last 45 days. And a lot of it thinks they’re just lowballing us. They say 15 now and 15 in 15 days. 

ALEX: If you go to your window right now and look out your window, what do you see?

ZORRO: Quiet street. There’s an apartment building in front of me. There's no dog walkers. There would be a lot of dog walkers at this time of day. The church bells haven't even rung, to tell you the truth. 

PJ: I know that this is not the most important question but where are the dogs going to the bathroom? [ALEX laughs] 

ZORRO: Well, you can walk your dogs but you can't…[laughs] it's a good question. You can walk your dogs but it has to be in a short perimeter around your house. And you have to be alone. You can't talk to other people while you do it. 

ALEX: God.

PJ: Wow. It's so, it’s so weird. 

ALEX: Yeah, it really is. 

PJ: Sometimes—I know that it's more serious and more big than this but sometimes it feels like, don't touch the floor but with going outside, you know? You don't realize just—like you don't realize that you're dependent on leaving your house. 

ZORRO: Oh, for real. And you should have seen how the French reacted to it. So on, I think Thursday, Macron said, "Alright, so you can't go to bars and cafes." That night every French person went out to get drunk before the end of the world, [ALEX: Right] they called it the last big drink before the end of the world. So of course, the virus spreads everywhere. 

PJ: Right. 

ZORRO: Then the bars and cafes are shut down. So where does everybody, everybody go? To the park. It's a beautiful sunny day. Everybody goes to the park. So of course they're all catching each other’s frisbees and the virus spreads around. And then now, we're in confinement and people—I've even heard of people walking their dogs to other people's house so that then those people can walk their dogs to other people's houses. So that everybody has an excuse to go outside and meet other people. 

ALEX: Did you, did you go out to the bars that last night?

ZORRO: No. I, I stayed home and played D&D with friends, to be honest. 

PJ: With the people that were going out

ZORRO: Yeah. 

PJ: What did they—like if you say to them like, "Why are you doing it?", what did they say?

ZORRO: Oh a lot of them were like, “look we’re all, we've all got it anyway. We're all carriers at this point. We're all young. None of us are gonna die. Come and have a drink. Like, We didn't stop drinking after the terror attacks in 2015, for example, so why would we stop now?", was a common phrase.

PJ: It's hard, like I think that is a bad—I think that's a dangerous reaction. But it's, it’s funny because it is like normally when something big—when a big crisis happens, it's like all the things we're supposed to do normally. It's like come together, be resilient, in the sense of like act as if your life hasn't changed...

ZORRO: Yeah. And that was the goal after the Bataclan attacks, we tried to go out as much as possible, keep the cafe's alive, keep the culture alive.

ALEX: Right. 

ZORRO: And that's the French reaction, is to like go out and live and fight the sadness and the darkness with livliness and, and drinking and partying and carrying on but this time we can't do that and it just feels fucking weird.  

ALEX: But I will say...

PJ: What are you—oh, go ahead Alex. 

ALEX: I live in New Jersey, and last night, after I got off work, I was just like so exhausted and after I put the kids to bed. And my wife was like, "Go take a walk." And I did and it was bitter cold out and I was like this is the best part of my day so far, just being able to like be outside and remember that there is something beyond the walls of this house. I can't imagine just like needing a permission slip every time I want to go. You know?

ZORRO: Yeah. It's, it’s pretty wild and as well just the way it shuts down social interactions. now, nobody says hello. You sort of shift to the other sidewalk, kind of nod your head awkwardly, hope that the police don't walk by and ask you why you're going and like pretend that you need to buy bread or something. It's weird.

PJ: And what are you guys doing in the apartment?

ZORRO: Oh, you know, there's WiFi. There's Netflix. Lots of board games. 

ALEX: Right. 

ZORRO: Walking the dogs over and over again. 

ALEX: Right.

PJ: The dogs are like the key to freedom. 

ALEX: I know. I can't imagine not having a dog in Paris, right now. 

ZORRO: Yes, if you don't have a dog, you can't go out. 

PJ: I wonder if people are gonna hear this in the US and be like, “I got to foster real fast.” Cause I mean, in New York the mayor just said—he said like he's gonna make a decision about shelter in place but he expects to do it in 48 hours. And the way that he was talking about it, it felt like that's probably what's going to happen. I don't know if it's going to be the same level of strictness or severity but it looks like it's just where the cities have to go. 

ZORRO: I hope, for your guys' sake, that it doesn't get there. 

PJ: Can you—do you mind emailing us and maybe we'll like I don't know what—we don't know what we're going to do. Like we think we're gonna probably take calls a bunch of days this week but maybe you can be our Paris correspondent?

ZORRO: I would love that. 

ALEX: Thanks so much. 

PJ: Thank you.

ZORRO: Thank you. Great to talk. Have a good day. 

PJ: Yeah, great to talk. 


ALEX: Hi, who's this?

AMANDA: Hi, this is Amanda. 

ALEX: Hi Amanda. 

PJ: How's it going?

AMANDA: Hi, umm. 

ALEX: Where are you?

AMANDA: Uh, I'm in New Jersey. New Brunswick. 

ALEX: Oh, okay. 

AMANDA: [unintelligible]

PJ: That's where—that's the state that Alex is in. 

ALEX: Not far from me. 

AMANDA: Yeah, I'm nearby. Yeah, exactly. 

PJ: How are you doing?

ALEX: Yeah, how's it going?

AMANDA: I'm okay. I wanted to share a kind of like petty thing that I experienced this weekend. Both petty and systemic. It's a mixed time. 

PJ: Petty and systemic?

AMANDA: It's both petty on the individual level but it's also systemic. It's really just what's going on right now. 

PJ: I would love to hear it. Yeah yeah yeah.

ALEX: Yeah please share. 

AMANDA: Okay so like I went to visit my friend um just like in Boston this past weekend. And she was with this one other girl who she went to college with. And the girl is very active on like social media in terms of like sharing um, social justice related things. So it's just like her personality. 

PJ: Mm-hmm.

AMANDA: And I've known her for a long time for that. And um, she shared something over this weekend. It was like a screenshot of a tweet I think is going around and the tweet was like saying that this, the, this whole pandemic is exposing the fact that women—or domestic labor, especially domestic labor, women have always been undervalued—haven't had like an economic value because it's gone invisible unpaid, that kind of thing. [ALEX: Mhm] And the fact that people are like scrambling to like deal with situation kind exposes that fact. 

ALEX: Okay. 

AMANDA: Okay and so girl shared this tweet on her Instagram story and I just like saw that on the bus. So like petty thing that I'm now bringing in is that she is the roommate of the friend I was visiting and um, what I learned this weekend is that she has never—she does not how to clean up after herself, like at all. So...


AMANDA: ...[unintelligible] Like truly. It's....

PJ: Wait, hold up. Can you really paint me a picture of like how slobby this person is?

AMANDA: Oh absolutely. I can, I can paint you, I can paint you a clear picture of what happened this weekend. 

PJ: Yeah. 

AMANDA: So like on Saturday, I think, she like—for lunch, I saw her make a taco bowl. She opened a package of like taco shells, left the package opened on the counter, all night long. 

ALEX: Ohh, they're gonna get stale!

AMANDA: ....[unintelligible] lettuce bits strewn all over the counter and like....

PJ: Wait, what was it? What was strewn all over the counter?

ALEX: Lettuce bits. 

PJ: Ohhhhhh. 

AMANDA: .... lettuce. Yes! And then for dinner, this was the first meal, and this was the second meal, they made—her and the third roomate made like roast chicken breast and didn't finish it and left it on the pan on the stove top. There were like still two whole breasts on it. 

ALEX: Eghh. 

PJ: Ohhh. 

AMANDA: And they made a frozen pizza and there were still two slices of frozen pizza. The next morning it was all still there, completely absurd. And the kicker is that I like took a look and under the pan of chicken breast on the stove top, there was mouse poop everywhere. 

[PJ and Alex groan]

ALEX: God!

AMANDA: Yeah. Yeah. 

PJ: Who do they think is gonna clean that up?

AMANDA: I saw like—

PJ: What invisible labor do they think is gonna take care of that?

AMANDA: So well that's what—Okay so like—Exactly! Exactly! This is what I am talking about, you guys. So like the friend that I visited, my friend, um, she's like the only one who cleans up after them. So she told me that she takes out the trash like 4 out of 5 times of like during the week. And like she's the one who like cleans up after them. And like this girl, whose talking like unpaid care, labor for women, is literally like being clean up for by her roommate. Like not paying her for it and like it just like boggles me. It boggles my mind that like this, like that this exists. That like this—in her mind that she holds both these things at once. 

PJ: That's fantastic. 

ALEX: It's like you agree with the idea.

PJ: You just think that she's the world's worst spokesperson for that idea. 

AMANDA: Yeah, and so like really, I just want like—if anyone is listening to this and like is stuck at home in quarantine with their roommate like clean up after yourself! [ALEX: laughs] Like we're all stuck inside.

PJ: Alright, stay sane. Stay safe. 

ALEX: Yeah, take care. 

AMANDA: Alright. Will do.


PJ: Were you a good roommate Alex?

ALEX: No. Terrible roommate. 

PJ: Yeah, me neither. 

ALEX: Terrible roommate. 

PJ: What was your roommate sin?

ALEX: [sigh] God, there's so many I don't even know where to begin. 

PJ: Didn't you have a roommate who just like—almost the first day was like, “I'm actually not gonna do this” and bounced on the lease?

ALEX: Yes. 

PJ: No, you tried to bounce on the lease. 

ALEX: No, no no no no. I had a roommate who was there for like a month. And she was like, "I don't want to live with you guys." And then it was a period of time in my life where I was incredibly poor. So what we did is we got some dry wall. This, this is the most logical solution, rather than find a roommate, we got dry wall, wrapped it in carpet we got at the recycle center, completely wrapped it around the first floor of our house and then just had house shows to make up the rent. [laughs]

PJ: That's such a stupid fun solution. Did it work?

ALEX: Yes. 

PJ: Did you get good bands?

ALEX: I mean, no one famous but yeah, we got some decent bands. But there was a guy who lived next door to us, who constantly threatened to kill us because we had loud shows and had people over. 

PJ: Like there was actually was like, "I'm gonna murder you."? 

ALEX: Yes, he was actually like, "I'm going to kill you." 

PJ: Huh.

ALEX: So. 

PJ: But you didn't take that seriously. 

ALEX: Not seriously enough to stop having the shows. 

PJ: And then wasn't there a point where you had like a very old man who was living in your basement, for some reason?

ALEX: Oh yeah. He was like the....

PJ: What was the deal with that?

ALEX: He was like a guy who used to hang out in the um, Diag, which like downtown Ann Arbour, and used to just like recite bawdy poetry and scream. 

PJ: Bawdy?

ALEX: Yeah, like he would like just scream offensive sort of verse that he wrote. And um, he needed a place to live and so he came and lived at our house for a while. 

PJ: Hmm. Was he in the practice space? Or was that a different house?

ALEX: Uh different house but he was in our practice space on a futon. 

PJ: That's funny. 

ALEX: And when he moved in and we put him on the futon, the owner of the futon was like, "Why didn't anybody ask me?". 


PJ: Why didn't anybody ask him?

ALEX: Well, you know. I'm a bad roommate. I think we've established that much. 

PJ: Yeah, established. 


ALEX: Hi you’ve reached the Reply All call in line if you're hearing this that means that we're either on another call or we have stopped taking calls for the day, um feel free to leave a message either way just be aware that we might use it on the show. Thank you so much! 


MARGARET: Hi, This is Margeret. Um I live in the midwest and I'm calling because I'm a member of AA and we have all of these churches and community centers and coffee shops shutting down and closing their doors and our meetings are the primary way that we get in contact with people who are struggling and need help and particularly people who are stuck in their homes and potentially, you know, drinking out of control. And um I'm part of a group that is trying to keep everybody informed and it is just hour to hour getting calls from people saying their meetings were shut down and "Where can I go?" and, yeah, it's been really crazy. So it's been a huge new frontier for us. We’re really trying to find ways to use like technology to stay connected, and you know, we just hope that it works and that new people find us.




JOCELYN: Hi guys, I'm super sad that I missed you, my name is Jocelyn. I live on an island off of Vancouver, Canada, and we are experiencing a lot of the same shortages here that the rest of North America has, namely toilet paper for some unknown reason. We recently got some groceries and were able to get one package of toilet paper in that grocery order pick-up and the same kind of toilet paper we usually get and then I opened it and realized that it was so loosely wound that the roll almost came out. And then I looked at the other toilet paper rolls in the same package and thought, "They're all really loosely wound!" Like when you look at the toilet paper roll you can see daylight between the layers. Which is not how I'm used to getting toilet paper. So it's entirely possible that this toilet paper is just a bad batch—


JOCELYN’S HUSBAND: No! [in background]


JOCELYN: But (laughs)—that's my husband—




JOCELYN: But we live in a net producer of toilet paper, our province has a lot of trees and the Scott Charmin Paper Factory is in the town I grew up in. It would have been produced this week—




JOCELYN: In order to fulfill the shortage.




JOCELYN: And—(laughs)




JOCELYN: But in any case I think it's a really interesting problem and it'd be interesting to find out whether this is a problem other listeners are having just by looking at their recently purchased toilet paper if they're lucky enough to have found some. Um, that's all I had. Thanks you guys, I love your show and would be—


JOCELYN’S HUSBAND: Wait, wait wait! the point-the point is-the point is-are the toilet paper companies shorting us on toilet paper? Because these rolls were absolutely produced after this virus happened so are they—like has anyone counted the number of sheets or how—yeah—


JOCELYN: Or how tightly they're wound? Like is it possible that they just, in an effort to meet  the need quickly that they decided, “Ok well let's put a little less on each roll so people will have something to use?” Which would be kind of—ha ha—shitty but um, you know, it's plausible. So I'm curious. Thanks guys, bye.




CLARISSA: Hi there, it's Clarissa, the music teacher from Ottawa. Ottowa's kind of a weird place right now. So I thought I'd bring some, a little bit of music and joy into it.


[sings "So Much Better Than" and playing a stringed instrument]


"Long before I had you in my dreams

You came and captured my imagination

Though something are never what they seem

But I never have to worry cause I know you are


Better than a model with a g string

Better than the promise of a good one night fling

Better than a big book full of Betty Page pictures

Even if it came with a years' subscription


Better than a ticket to a Holyfield ringside

Better than the daughter of a sultan for a bride

Better than a cherry on a whipped cream sundae

Better than a week that'll never have a Monday


Share your love with me tonight

I want to feel that love"


That's your song for today!


PJ: After the Break, happy FÖPA.


ALEX: Alright. Ready for a call when y’all are.

PJ: Ok.

ALEX: Hello?

[phone ringing]


PJ: Hello?

ALEX: Nope. We don’t.

PJ: Did they hang up or did we hang up on them?

DAMIANO: I think it’s doing that thing where so many people call in that it starts to hang up on people.

PJ: Oh.

[phone ringing]

DAMIANO: Here we go.



ALEX: [laughs]

DAMIANO: Sorry, person from Toronto.

[phone ringing] 

PJ: Oh, we got somethin, we got somethin, we got a live one.

ALEX: Hello?


ALEX: No we don’t. [laughs]

PJ: [laughs]

DAMIANO: I can see all the calls coming in 

PJ: Normally the system kinda works 


PJ: Do you wanna try restarting the lil doohickey? 

DAMIANO: There’s no way to restart it.

PJ: Shit

DAMIANO: Um, ok so guys: I have a new idea 

PJ: Ok.

DAMIANO: We have a limited time only number—

PJ: Ok.

DAMIANO: Um that I can say out loud.

ALEX: Oh the phone’s ringing!

DAMIANO: How does someone already have the number?

ALEX: The phone’s ringing! Just answer it!

PJ: Hello?


ALEX: Hello?

PJ: Hello?

TOKYO CALLER: Hello? Oh my god. 

ALEX: Who is this?


PJ: How do you have this phone number?

DAMIANO: How did you get this number? Literally, how did you get this number?

[ALEX laughing]

TOKYO CALLER: Did I really get through?

ALEX: Yeah, you really got through. 

DAMIANO: Oh no no no no no. You got through in between shutting off the old number and shutting in the new number. There was a brief window and you made it through. 

PJ: Something worked! 


PJ: This is a miracle. Who are you? Where are you calling from?

TOKYO CALLER: Um, I’m in Japan right now. 

PJ: Where in Japan are you?

TOKYO CALLER: In Tokyo, actually right now. 

PJ: How—what's happening?

TOKYO CALLER: It's weird. So basically there's not a lot of reported cases. But everywhere that I see online says that they're not testing anybody so we don't really know if there's like a lot of being hidden. Or if it's just really—or we got really lucky. So..

PJ: Why aren't they testing people?

TOKYO CALLER: And the Olympics—oh, it's because of the Olympics, I think. The Olympics are this year. 

ALEX: And they don't want to cancel the olympics so they're trying to...

PJ: They're still talking about—isn't that July?


ALEX: Is there any popular outcry of people being like “you guys need to take care of this because people aren’t getting tested and this is killing people in other countries!”

TOKYO CALLER: Yeah like yesterday or since the day before yesterday on Twitter they were trending on to get the prime minister, Abe to resign. So like... 

PJ: Oh wow. 

ALEX: Oh wow. 

TOKYO CALLER: Like Resign Abe was trending Yeah. 

PJ: Has there been a moment, it feels like in different countries there's moments where it starts to get—like, like this thing happens and then like a chunk of people take it seriously. And then another thing happens, and like a bigger chunk of people taking it seriously. 


PJ: Like what happened that made you—that has made you take it seriously?

TOKYO CALLER: Honestly, just like—okay, so my mom called me yesterday. Well, actually my mom called me and I missed it. And then my brother called me and then he messaged me. I was like, oh my god. Maybe it's actually really bad? Cause I kind of got worried about thinking about her worrying about me. You know? 

ALEX: Ohh. 

TOKYO CALLER: So I don't know what's she seeing on the news and stuff, soo. 

ALEX: Where is your family?

TOKYO CALLER: My mom's in America. I'm American. 

PJ: How come you're over there?

TOKYO CALLER: I came here for school and actually right now I was just visiting because of my friend's wedding. So I just ended up being here for a couple months. My flight back is on the 14th of April. So I was thinking about moving it up. 

PJ: Is it, is it making you more home sick?

TOKYO CALLER: Actually, yeah, which is really strange because I've never ever ever been homesick before. But I do wanna like get back home now. Today was like the first day that I really...

PJ: So what—how come you think—what is it about this that makes you feel homesick?

TOKYO CALLER: Well okay, it's kind of—I don't want like too dark but my dad actually passed away last April. 

PJ: I'm sorry. 

ALEX: I'm sorry. 

TOKYO CALLER: So, it's like of like, you know, it made me start thinking about I don't want my mom to be all alone. I hope she's okay, kind of thing like that?

PJ: Is this your first experience of like having to be kind of parental towards your mom?

TOKYO CALLER: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Like, oh my god. When my dad passed away like I became my dad for a while. It was really weird. Like my mom, she's the kind of person who like doesn't really show that she's having a hard time. Like I never saw her cry once but like I know that she was having a really hard time with the like— I was like the one who was like stepping in and doing everything and like ordering whatever she needed. She wasn't going to sleep but I like forced to her to go to bed, basically. Almost like—I was cooking every single meal. I was cooking and I just stepped into that role and it was like extremely overwhelming and part of me probably wanted to like get away from it as soon as possible. 

PJ: Totally. 

TOKYO CALLER: So now I feel a little guilty about it. 

PJ: I don't know. It's hard. It’s hard like you need to be there for people and then you also need to take care of yourself so that you can be there for people. 

TOKYO CALLER: Yeah. That's exactly what she said. Unfortunately, she was like, "Go. I want you to leave. You need to do this on your own. Get out of here." So. 

PJ: I'm sorry that you're like in a place that's far away from your people right now. 

TOKYO CALLER: Yeah, but it'll be okay. 

PJ: Well thanks for calling us.


PJ: Take care. 

ALEX: Bye. 


PJ: Are you ok? 

ALEX: Yeah, I'm just thinking about—I'm genuinely worried about tons of people dying. My grandmother who is 92, was telling me yesterday—my grandmother lives in a retirement home in Novi, Michigan, just outside of Detroit. And she was saying she lives in this retirement community that's really wonderful and like I'm so glad that she's there.

But the other day she was like- she got a new boyfriend. His name is Arthur. My grandfather died a few years ago. 

PJ: Arthur...

ALEX: And she's like, "You know, the other day we were told to stay in our room and they shut down the kitchen and they’re just bringing us food. But the other day me and Arthur snuck out and went for walk." And I'm like, "Grandma, you're gonna—you, you could die. Don't do that."

PJ: What’d she say?

ALEX: Her response basically was just like, "I'm 92, like I should be dead already. Like I'm just gonna do what I want." But...

PJ: That feels really hard. 

ALEX: It's not—it's particularly selfish for me to want my mother or my grandmother to just like live in isolation for months on end because there was actually a really bad flu going around her, her retirement home this winter. So they got off of quarantine from that flu for after in like February and now they're back. And it's more extreme this time.

PJ: That sucks… 

ALEX: Yeah… Damiano what’s going on with the calls? 

DAMIANO: I think I can have one for you in just one moment 

ALEX: Ok [sighs]

[phone ringing]

PJ: Hello?


ALEX: Hi, who's this?

JADE LUISA: Hi Alex and PJ. Jade Luisa. 

PJ: Hi. 

ALEX: How are you doing? How are you dealing with the quarantine?

JADE LUISA: It's so weird. So London's like a little bit behind you guys and Paris, I think. 

PJ: What I had read was that—London—like England, until a few days ago was pursuing a totally different strategy from most countries regarding Coronavirus and they like switched? Is that right?


PJ: Can you explain?

JADE LUISA: Yeah the idea is that we're all gonna get herd immunity. So herd immunity is the idea that everybody is going to be out and about together, and especially sort of in the city in London, and magically everybody is going to pass it over to each other and eventually we'll all have passed it around so much that um, we’re, it's just gonna fade off and everybody will stop getting coronavirus so...

PJ: It's like here, people keep talking about like flattening the curve. And herd immunity is actually like “raise the curve and then it'll be done faster.”

ALEX: Right. 


PJ: But the reason that you don't do that is because they're people who are really at risk. Tons of people.

JADE LUISA: Uh-huh. 

PJ: And then also the hospital capacity isn't very good. 

JADE LUISA: Uh-huh. 

PJ: So they like just figured that out. 

JADE LUISA: It makes no sense whatsoever. 

PJ: It's also like if you're trying to sell people on the concept of the thing, herd immunity doesn't really do it. 


ALEX: Yeah. 

JADE LUISA: And my grandmother was going to visit my great-grandmother on Monday still and I was like, "Nooo. You're both old!"

ALEX: Oh my goodness. Did you try to convince her not to do it?

JADE LUISA: Yes, but she's very stubborn so...I think that was a losing battle. 

ALEX: Oh, that sounds so stressful. I'm sorry. 

[JADE LUISA laughs]

PJ: You sound fairly chipper about the whole situation, though.

ALEX: Yeah, you seem pretty, pretty chill about it, all things considered. 

JADE LUISA: Well, one, I popped anti-anxiety meds like they're candy all day today. [PJ laughs] Some people have coping techniques. I have medication. 

ALEX: What was your argument when you talked to—what was your grandmother's argument?

JADE LUISA: She was saying that it was just a cold. And she sort of just had a tickle in her throat...

PJ: Oh, she was actively symptomatic.

JADE LUISA: Yeah, like she had a sore throat. Well...ehh, kind of. She has one of the symptoms but I think that's one too many. 

PJ: Just one. 

JADE LUISA: Please just stay in the house. Yeah. 

PJ: Yeah.

JADE LUISA: Her argument—she was angry because, and I don't know if your government has done this but there was the idea that over 70s would maybe to have to stay in the house for 4 months, like self-isolate for up to 4 months. So she read that and um I think in a kind of fit of rage decided that no government was going to tell her what to do and so she needs to go outside and she needs to go and visit people. Kind of hard to present any kind of rationality with that kind of anger but...

PJ: Um what, what are the rules in place? What is the government saying over there?

JADE LUISA: Um, so I haven't seen today's press briefing um but as of yesterday, there was a ban on mass gatherings, I think above 500? And there was a suggestion that um pubs and theaters and everywhere had to close. But it was not officially mandated so the government didn't order everywhere to close. 

PJ: Yeah. And what about you? What's your work situation?

JADE LUISA: Um I, today was actually my first work from home day. 

PJ: What do you do?

JADE LUISA: I work in publishing!

PJ: Do you have uh recommendations for people for stuff to read if they're stuck inside?

JADE LUISA: Yes, um  I can really recommend the 10,000 Doors of January um...

PJ: What's that about?

JADE LUISA: That is sort of a fantasy novel where the basis is this girl, January, is um dropped off by her father in some guy's house and she finds this door when she's very young and it's kind of like a magical door that leads to another city and she, as the story goes on, you learn that these doors open up into other worlds and this secret life...

PJ: Oh, that's really cool.

JADE LUISA: ...trying to close the doors, etc. It's very cool.

PJ: Is it adult? Is it young adult?

JADE LUISA: No, it's actually adult fiction. 

PJ: So it's adult Narnia, sort of. 

JADE LUISA: Yeah. Fuck yeah. 

PJ: Oh dude, I could go for that right now. [laughs]

JADE LUISA: Would recommend. 

PJ: Okay. 

ALEX: Alright. Well thank you. Take care of yourself. 

JADE LUISA: Bye bye.


ALEX: Hi you’ve reached the Reply All call in line if you're hearing this that means that we're either on another call or we have stopped taking calls for the day, um feel free to leave a message either way just be aware that we might use it on the podcast. Thank you so much! 




PERSON 1: Hi, so we are quarantined and what we've been doing is we made a fake holiday with the express reason of pissing off our—well, our mom, Ellen. [laughs] And we call this FÖPA. It stands for the Festival of Playful Activity. And the way that it works is we basically just wear a hat and say, "Happy FÖPA!", until um, Ellen gets really pissed off. So it's actually been working really well. Basically, we can kind of make up any rule but any rule that Ellen makes up doesn't work, like that's not allowed. So far we've had four people at a time in on the thing and...

PERSON 2: We’re trying to perpetuate it...

PERSON 1: Yeah, we're just trying to perpetuate the whole thing. So we encourage everyone to celebrate FÖPA with us. Also, just so you know, the way to spell FÖPA is F-O with the umlaut- P-A.

GROUP: Happy FÖPA! Happy FÖPA! Happy FÖPA!



FOSTER PARENT: Hi. I um, I don't know, I guess I wanted to tell you about an unforeseen thing that I didn't foresee as a result of this mess. Um, I'm a foster parent and uh... [long pause] I'll get it together (laughs). I'm a foster parent and I'm here in the car with my foster kid who I've had since he was two months old and he uhh he was born with medical complications and we've been in and out of the hospital and he eats through a g-tube, like a hole in his stomach. And umm we've been getting through the process and um we, like a month ago, after a very unsympathetic judge was just letting this drag out and out and out, the biological parents weren't doing anything to prove that they could care for this complex kid and um we finally get a date, um May 5th, that there's a trial determining their rights as parents and... and now.... I don't know—


[child coos in the background]


FOSTER PARENT: There he is. Um I don't know when, if that date’s still good and is this gonna drag on, and it just gives the parents more—the biological parents—cause we're his parents, we've had him since he was two months old and now, I was confident, you know? Like... and now the date—and it gives them the chance to—it gives them more time to pretend that they're capable and meanwhile this boy understands more and more and loves us more and more and um... anyway. It's just, you know, you think a virus is gonna keep people inside and you understand that but then... you think that it might take your kid away from you and give him to an unsafe household and it-it's just heartbreaking. And we're fortunate, we're doing okay. Everyone, I mean... I stay at home with him anyway so it really hasn't changed that much in my life. Just no more doctors that aren't absolutely necessary and my partner is um... we're all fine. I'm being a big baby. Um... that's all I got.





MARK: Hey Reply All. My name is Mark. Calling from well off the border of Argentina and Uruguay on an expedition ship, kind of waiting for news from the cruise company to figure out where I'm going to disembark and how the hell to get home. We were intended to finish the cruise right actually tomorrow. So we had to cut the trip early by a day but we all kind of mentally prepared to be gone this long and most of us have flights leaving tomorrow but we're in this situation where Argentina and Uruguay seem to announce new restrictions every couple of hours. And we are at anchor maybe 50 miles away. We can see the ports on both sides of the ship but we're unable to get in. So we've been denied entry into Uruguay, and denied entry into Buenos Aires. Nobody on board is sick. We take temperatures every 12 hours just in case but we've been effectively quarantined together for 30 days. So we're a group of 68 passengers who have effectively been in quarantine but I don't know. We might have to stay here and continue to quarantine for a while. I don't know. Just kind of floating. 


PJ: That's our show for this week.

Before we go, an unusual amount of housekeep stuff to take care of.

So all the calls you hear, we did something unusual which is we broadcast them live. We really enjoyed it, we’re gonna keep trying to do weird experiments like this, and you can keep updated at

Also we’re looking for "Unobtaniums." We asked people to send recordings from spaces you’re in where you feel isolated, either physically or emotionally. I think that describes pretty much the whole world right now.


Reply All is hosted by PJ Vogt and me, Alex Goldman. This show is produced by Sruthi Pinnamaneni, Phia Bennin, Damiano Marchetti, Anna Foley, Jessica Yung and Emmanuel Dzotsi. Our executive producer is Tim Howard. We’re mixed by Rick Kwan. Fact checking by Michelle Harris. Our intern is Lisa Wang. 

Special thanks this week to Zac Schmidt and to everyone who called in.

Our theme song is by the Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder. Additional music this week from Mari Romano and Luke Williams. Matt Lieber is that day several weeks from now when you can hug your friends again. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you very soon.