Arts Long-Distance Romance
My personal computer is totally broken, digitally eviscerated, kaput. So I called the technical help line, listened to the automated questions, pushed the appropriate buttons, and was transferred to Sandeep.
“Hello, my name is Sandeep,” he said. “How can I help you?” We began with the usual chitchat—What’s the problem? A blue screen or a black screen? Could you repeat that?—and soon we were running a systemic diagnostic test. The screen flashed and scrolled and we shared an awkward silence.
“How long’s this going to take?” I asked.
“Maybe ten minutes,” Sandeep said.
“If you want to, you know, take a walk or get a sandwich or something, feel free,” I said. “I’ll be here.”
“Ha ha!” he laughed. “Yes, I can get you several Cokes.”
Several Cokes? How thoughtful! What a sweetheart! Our courtship had begun.
He said it was the last call of his 9.5-hour shift, that he was in New Delhi, that it was almost midnight. I said it was 11-ish and I was in Seattle and—
"Yes, Seattle!" he said. "It's 11:04 in the morning, yes?"
I said it rained here yesterday. He said it had rained in New Delhi yesterday. He's an MBA student and wants to work for a big company, analyzing its finances.
"Playing with numbers?" I asked. "Generating spreadsheets?"
"Yes!" he said. "But maybe it is too difficult for me." He sighed. "Mathematics is difficult."
"Yeah, math was never my strong point."
"It was mine. But this is difficult."
"You can do it," I said. "I believe in you."
"Thank you," he said.
We shared some laughs, described our immediate surroundings, what was on our tables and on the other sides of our respective rooms. But he never asked me about me. Was this a technical-support policy? Did he not care? Was I being too needy? I wanted to ask, but never got around to it. Our time together was fleeting and I didn't cherish it. I didn't say all the things I meant to say. Perhaps it's better that way.
A window popped up on my screen. Diagnostic test over. The hardware was fine but there was some incurable software disease. He talked about formatting my hard drive, reinstalling Windows. He couldn't help me with that. He was going to transfer me to somebody else who had more information. Our ten-minute stand was coming to a close.
"May I transfer you now?" he asked abruptly. Was that it? After all we had shared?
"Yes," I sighed. "But... thank you, Sandeep." I paused. "Thank you for..."
"Yes, thank you, sir," he said too quickly, too formally. "Thank you for choosing Dell."
The line clicked. That heartless bastard. Some generic muzak. Then...
"Hello, my name is Rachel. How can I help you?"