Judith Sudilovsky
Freelance journalist

Someone is listening, and it Isn’t my sons

Not one to break a tradition, my youngest son — who is entering eighth grade — took his time getting his notebooks organized and putting on his shoes just before we rushed out the door so he could (hopefully) get to school on time at least on the first day.

I had, of course, asked him to organize his things several times yesterday only to be repeatedly ignored as he played his computer games with friends and then went to the beach with his father and brother.  Another tradition firmly maintained.

So this morning, as I carefully switched on the engine of our almost 13-year-old Honda Civic and shifted into gear, I contemplated which route out of our Jerusalem neighborhood would get us to the light rail train station fastest. We have two options, and I did a quick calculation given there is construction on both of them. I elected to take the main road, which inevitably turned out to be the wrong choice and I watched as the train slowly pulled away from the station after my husband and son had dashed across the street Israeli-style, reaching the station just as the train closed its doors.

Once the morning chaos had subsided, and the street cats from both our old street and our “new” street where we have lived for seven years were fed, our own cats fed and our dogs walked and fed, it was just my oldest, who is waiting to be drafted into the army, and me at home.

Also not one to break a tradition, he was in the living room already glued to his Play Station NBA game before leaving for his afternoon job as an assistant judo coach.  To be fair, he had hung out the laundry to dry before he sat down with the Play Station remote.

I got down to the business of straightening out our kitchen , clearing dishes from the sink, wiping down the counter, and, recalling a small bottle of saffron I had bought at the airport on our stop-over in Madrid earlier in the summer, I took out some chicken quarters from the freezer pleased with myself for finally having cleaned it out on Saturday.

“Maybe I’ll make some paella tonight,” I said, as I turned to place the chicken in the oven to defrost where the dogs can’t get to it.

My son, in the living room with his game, may have made some sort of noise of acknowledgement, I’m not sure.

I made a mental note of the bag of frozen artichokes I had also seen in the freezer, thinking that as a struggling vegan I could make myself a smaller, individual vegan paella.

I went off to Beit Jalla to finish something and when I came back later in the afternoon I sat down at my computer to go through my email—which normally consists of its fair share of spam and numerous newsletters which sometimes provide an idea for an article.

Also among the emails are usually several food blogs which I admit I like to read, and enjoy viewing their videos.

Today one of the blogs tempted me with a video of what looked like fudge so I clicked on it, never one to pass up an opportunity to procrastinate.  My old computer is temperamental though, and while the audio was fine I couldn’t see the images. As I fiddled with the video, trying to get the image to appear,  I noticed that on the left hand side under “Up Next” was a video for a paella Valencia.

A recipe for paella had never appeared on the feeds of any of my limited social media accounts or emails before.

There was also a video for a recipe in Spanish. How did “they” know I speak Spanish?

I freaked out, a bit.

I called a friend.

We discussed it.

Coincidence or did someone—not my sons—actually listen to me?

We have no Alexa in our house (heaven forbid!) and our internet-capable TV was, supposedly disabled when it was connected. My son and I both have Samsung android phones.

Was Google Big-Brothering me through my phone—or even from the computer in the computer nook? Or??

Disconcerting thoughts indeed.

But maybe I can give it a positive spin, as someone desperate to be listened to, getting just the right recipe at just the right time could be a nice thing…

So, hey there Googles, if you are in the vicinity and do have the inclination, now I am looking for a quick, low-fat, low-sugar, delicious whole-wheat, vegan muffin recipe I can make tonight so I can tuck one into my son’s lunch for tomorrow as a treat.

Let’s see whatcha got.

You know how to reach me.

About the Author
Judith Sudilovsky has worked as a freelance journalist covering Israel and the Palestinian Territories for over 25 years.
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