Sunday, April 28, 2019

"Date Night at the Diner"

By Jerry Zezima
Hearst Connecticut Media Group
When it comes to life in the fast lane, my wife, Sue, and I are on the side of the road with a flat tire. That’s why we can’t make it to the airport to fly to some exotic locale like the Greek islands.

But on a recent Saturday night, we did the next best thing and drove to the hottest spot in a city that never wakes: the diner.

This one is owned by a very nice guy named Gus, who was born in Greece.

“Tell me when you want to go and I’ll tell you where to go,” Gus said.

“People are always telling me where to go,” I responded.

“I mean,” Gus clarified, “I’ll suggest the best places to visit when you and your wife go to Greece.”

“Greece is the word,” I said, doing him and everyone else in the place a big favor by not singing for my supper.

Instead, Sue and I ordered it from a menu with enough delicious selections to turn me into Zezima the Greek, even though I’m Italian and, according to a DNA test, Martian.

“Would you like anything to drink?” our waiter, Michael, asked pleasantly.

“I’ll have a Corona,” Sue replied.

“There’s no smoking in here,” I told her.

“Not a cigar,” Sue said with a sigh. “A beer.”

Michael dutifully wrote it down, then asked me, “And you, sir?”

“I’ll have a Blue Moon,” I said.

When Michael returned with our brews, I said, “We don’t go out too often. In fact,” I added, holding up my bottle, “it’s only once in a …”

“Blue moon!” Michael exclaimed with a laugh. “I got it!”

“Please,” Sue said. “Don’t encourage him.”

I couldn’t be discouraged from ordering a jumbo burger with bacon, fries, onion rings, lettuce, tomato, cole slaw and, the piece de resistance (I speak fluent Greek), a pickle.

“I’m really in a pickle now,” I told Michael, who laughed again (I think he wanted a generous tip, which he deserved) and took Sue’s order, which was the same as mine, minus the bacon.

“Date night at the diner,” she said with a smile after the burgers arrived. “Isn’t it romantic?”

“Umph, umph, umph,” I replied with a mouthful of food.

The burgers were cooked to perfection by Carlo, whom I later visited in the kitchen.

“My wife doesn’t like the way I cook burgers because they end up like hockey pucks,” I said.

“I don’t play hockey,” said Carlo, who added that his wife likes the way he cooks everything.

“Customers like it, too,” said a waitress named Margaret. “I’ve worked in places where I didn’t eat. The food here is fresh and delicious.”

That was evident by the gluttony of the family sitting next to us. Some of them ordered porterhouse steaks the size of anvils.

“That’s my favorite item on the menu,” Gus told me. “I could eat one every day.”

“So could I,” I said, “but I want to keep my boyish figure.”

When Sue and I were done, Michael, who is Gus’ nephew, returned and asked Sue if she wanted a doggy bag for the half-burger she couldn’t finish.

“Yes, please,” she said.

I had only a leaf of iceberg lettuce left.

“I don’t think I’ll take it home,” I said. “It could be dangerous.”

“Why?” asked Michael.

“Because,” I explained, “an iceberg sank the Titanic.”

He laughed again, earning a $10 tip for a meal that came to $32.

“You spare no expense for me, dear,” Sue said sweetly after I also paid for a baklava for her to take home.

“Let me know when you want to go to Greece,” Gus said.

“I will,” I replied. “And the next time we go out on a hot date, we’re coming back to the diner.”

Copyright 2019 by Jerry Zezima

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

"Bellying Up to the Genius Bar"

By Jerry Zezima
Hearst Connecticut Media Group
If this column is being read by Apple CEO Tim Cook, known to a certain ubiquitous Twitter user as Tim Apple, it means two things:

1. He has way too much time on his hands.

2. He should acknowledge that I am a genius.

I attained this lofty status after I bought a new iMac and enlisted the services of Yash Sharma, who works in a nearby Apple store.

I went there because my previous iMac was 10 years old, slower than a tortoise with a broken leg and the technological equivalent of me: a geezer.

I took the new computer home and called Apple Support for help in setting it up because I was afraid I would plug it into the wrong outlet, hit “Control-Alt-Delete” and bring down the nation’s power grid.

Everything was fine except for the unfortunate fact that I couldn’t transfer data from my old computer to my new one. So I had to take both machines to the store.

“Are you backed up?” Yash asked.

“I had an upset stomach after dinner last night, but I’m feeling much better now,” I replied. “You’re getting a little personal, don’t you think?”

“No,” Yash said, very patiently. “I mean, do you have an external hard drive?”

“I have a hard drive, but it’s not external,” I said. “I didn’t want to put it outside. What if it rains?”

This, of course, was before I became a genius.

At 21, Yash has already achieved that designation, which qualifies him to help customers like me who otherwise would have to rely on their grandchildren for technical assistance.

“Sometimes with older computers, you have to reboot,” said Yash.

“My definition of rebooting,” I told him, “is to put your foot through the screen. We have a new computer system at work and the best thing I can say about it is that it makes the old one look good. Still,” I added, “I don’t think anybody ever ran through an office yelling, ‘The typewriters are down!’ ”

“Probably not,” Yash said. “So it’s a good thing you came to the Genius Bar.”

“Do you serve beer at this bar?” I asked.

“We don’t have a liquor license,” Yash replied.

“That’s too bad,” I said. “Since you’re 21, you could have a cold one with me.”

“After your computer problem is fixed,” he said, “you could go to another bar and celebrate.”

That was easier said than done because even Yash had trouble transferring the data, so he had to bypass the hard drive and hook both computers to each other so my information could go directly from the old one to the new one.

“This could take a while,” he told me.

The estimated time for completion was 8 hours and 49 minutes. The store closed in about an hour.

“You’ll have to leave them here overnight,” Yash said.

“It’ll be like a hospital stay,” I noted. “My machines will have a double room in the ICU: Intensive Computer Unit.”

“It usually costs $99 for this,” Yash said, “but we won’t charge you because you’ve already done $99 worth of work yourself.”

“I’m 65 years old and I haven’t done $99 worth of work in my whole life,” I said. “But thanks.”

I received a call the next morning to say that the operation was a success. When I picked up the computers after work, I said to Yash, “I’ve learned a lot from you. In fact, I feel like a genius.”

“Maybe you could work here,” he suggested.

“Tell that to Tim Cook,” I said. “And tell him to start serving beer at the Genius Bar. The first round is on him.”

Copyright 2019 by Jerry Zezima