Sideways! I’ve owned my own personal computer since about 1985 and have never before seen the visual on my screen take a 90 degree dive. I lay my head on my worktable to try to manipulate the mouse cursor to the “undo” button and eventually succeed only in undoing the last work I did on the newsletter, which had been a big cut and paste. I am desperate. This is my new, expensive laptop and I’m going all the way across country tomorrow to write on it, but it has laid down all horizontal and won’t budge. I’m in trouble. The girls call from their car to say they are approaching the restaurant. I must abandon my dizzy screen to go meet them.
At the near-empty restaurant we are settled into our table by a sweet young waiter named Mahmut – I’d put him in his early 20s – who has arrived from Turkey only three months ago. His tentative English is heavily accented and his service is impeccable. I chat with him about Istanbul, where I’ve visited two or three times, and he is overjoyed to hear how I loved it. I order stuffed eggplant, which I have had many times here, while Stephanie has the veggie moussaka and Bambi gets grilled lamb wrapped in roasted eggplant.
My phone rings. It is one of the students from my senior fitness class to say that another student, Connie, who has been in intensive care since a seizure on Friday, has died. This is the 9th or 10th student I have lost in the past half year and so much loss has been depleting my emotional stores, and making me all the more determined to write.
Once I unload this news on my friends, we go around the table with our personal updates, and I tell them about my computer and how I have no idea what I’m going to do about it being askew. And I complain about the approaching snow storm which threatens to delay or cancel my flight. Bambi and Steph also “share” – to use the modern vernacular – as we eat. We are the last customers in the restaurant and when our coats are already on, Mahmut reluctantly speaks to me in a quiet voice.
“I wasn’t listening in. I hear you. About your computer screen. I can show you how to fix it.” His reluctance to offer is a fear that we will think he was being nosy about our conversation, the sweet lad. He takes me over to his laptop – an Asus just like mine, with Windows 8 as well – and explains that he is a software engineer. “Look,” he says, hitting control+alt and the directional keys. He makes his screen view lay down, stand up, turn over – just using those arrow keys. My life will never be the same. One more miserable, redundant monster, one more imposed threat from the beyond has been eliminated. I will forever know how to return my computer to the upright position. Well, until Windows 9, I guess.
We now spend time chatting with Mahmut, exchanging blog/twitter/email/linked-in info. He says helping us with our computer problems would be a great way to practice his English. Stephanie asks him why her laptop is not being read by any printer since she updated her antivirus. She also tells him that she is a career counselor – and then explains what that is and how she might be of use to him. I feel he is lonely and that he’s had fun with us, three loud short-haired American women of a certain age. I rush home to straighten out the picture on my computer and to focus my angst on the storm.