Autumn Diary | Sirvin is Vintage

Sirvin, my six year old MacBook Pro, is a dear dear friend. We have gone through loads together. For  a little over a year now, Sirvin’s T, Y, U, I, Os have not been functioning. Now, it is not Sirvin’s fault. Having accidentally poured a few cups of tea over the keyboard a number of times, it is only right that a day came when Sirvin’s keys could no longer respond to my touch. In conversation with a friend, I learned that I could just buy any old keyboard and type with it. I mentioned this to my best friend and she sent me this ugly PC keyboard. >:) Sirvin really dislikes this keyboard but you know what they say, “if wishes were horses . . .”

The Apple Store having now arrived in my neighborhood––only ten minutes walk from our apartment––and  having a little bit more money these days––zero tuition + new job––I took Sirvin over for a little overdue check-up. We met Robert. A very friendly overweight hispanic dude. He did not really give us much of his attention. He paused at one point to converse with this girl, promising her a job. He kept saying, quite enthusiastically, “I’ve got you! Just come in!” And also to the brother of the girl who wanted to work at Apple. Her brother––I assume so because they seemed so familiar with one another––kept asking “How old do you have to be to work here?” To which Robert responds, “18. You only have one more year!” Now, I will interrupt myself and ask you something: is there such a thing as only one year

Robert, while analyzing Sirvin, also assisted a man to my left with his iPad. Although the man was supposed to wait for another “genius,” he was impatient to have his device examined right way. He insisted Robert look it over and so he did.

Waiting for Sirvin’s evaluation report, I listened to the buzz of the voices in the room, and wondered about the amazing eerie music it made. Then Robert started talking to me. He said that Sirvin, by Apple’s standard, is vintage. The way he said vintage, it was as if he was afraid I would get up and slap him. But I was of course delighted. Who wouldn’t be proud of having their handicapped but functioning laptop declared vintage? Well, maybe not Robert. His tone brought to mind a friend of a friend’s who always have to have the latest iPhone. 

Because Sirvin is vintage (has a yellow heart––or in Robert’s words, a yellow battery––and probably suffering severe water damage) Apple no longer has the parts that Sirvin needs to function properly. Robert jotted down an address and gave it to me. I am to go to the dude at the address in Flushing. He is likely to have the hardware Sirvin needs: new keyboard and new battery. I thanked Robert and brought Sirvin home. We were not at all upset. What’s there to be upset about? But I could not envision us going to Flushing. Perhaps it was time Sirvin and I started having a goodbye ceremony, I thought.

But the other day I went for a lovely little walk on a really gorgeous night: stunning weather, beauty everywhere and one felt one was floating, not walking. I chose a path I had not gone along in  a while and stumbled upon a little multipurpose shop: they pawn jewelry, dry clean (specializes in leather), sell and fix phones, and also fix all laptops! 

A few days after I found the shop I brought Sirvin to them and met Alvin: a tall, skinny and good looking Russian Jew. He says “Alvin, like the chipmunk,” with a thick accent and a ghost of a smile. I tell him I never saw that movie. His big eyes settle on me briefly then goes back to examining the lunch he had just carried in. He had not been in the shop when I arrived. The man behind the cellphone display had to give him a phone call first. 

It was a Saturday afternoon and there were three people in the shop beside the cellphone man, Alvin, and myself. The place smelled a little fishy and a fat fly buzzed lazily about. The small shop is divided into four parts. The phone seller/repairer takes over the right wall, Alvin’s side is opposite his. At the back of the store the dry cleaning section is in one corner and the pawn shop in the other. 

I tell Alvin about Sirvin, he pushes the untouched food behind the counter and tells me that the yellow heart is not really a problem. Alvin has an intense look which for some reason makes me want to laugh, but I do not laugh. But could he fix the yellow heart problem all the same, I ask him. “Yes,” he says and gives me a quote for a new keyboard and battery. He wants a deposit to buy materials. I am to leave Sirvin with him and pick it up in three days; Jewish holidays, he explained. “Can’t do that,”  I tell him. He suggests I leave a deposit and bring Sirvin on the following Tuesday. He would fix her within an hour. I agreed to leave a deposit and left for the bank to get the money. 

When I came back the two customers had left, but a man I had seen earlier remained. He seems to be Alvin’s friend. There were now three new customers. Two old men and a middle aged woman. When I bring Alvin the deposit, he had forgotten the quote he had initially given me and mentions a lesser amount. Then when he realizes his mistake––I did not correct him––he decides to give me a discount and charge the lower price. 

He puts an unlit cigarette in his mouth and tries to process my transaction. But he struggles with something and keeps talking––yelling, more like it––to the man behind the cellphone display counter, sometimes in Russian, sometimes English. He wants to know how to process the transaction. He wants the cellphone merchant to come take a look at what he is doing. But the cellphone seller merely yells instructions back. He gives me money to hand over to the cellphone guy and keeps fumbling with his computer. The fly comes over and circles about his head. He swings a hand about his head and complains about the fly, muttering something about a fish shop next door. He finally takes my deposit and I let him know I may not be able to come on Tuesday because my schedule for work was at present unsettled. “Ok, come when you can” he says to me. 

I ask for his card and tell him I will call first. After he gives me the receipt I make my way to the door but look back when I hear him say, “call me!” He was pressing against his right ear long fingers spread out in mimicry of a phone. The cigarette still at the corner of his mouth. I nodded and at that instant had the feeling that this was a man who knew himself to be easy on the eyes. He follows me out of the door. 

As I walked away, I imagined him positioned at the front of the store smoking his cigarette and wondered if his eyes followed me. I did not look back to find out. I also wondered if he would still be there when I came back with Sirvin. Was it foolish to have given him the deposit and just walked away? What if I never saw him again? 

On Tuesday I called to inquire if I could bring Sirvin, Alvin said in his thick accent, “Yes, yes! Bring it whenever!” So I take Sirvin to the shop. He looks up from where he is sitting behind the counter––which is so ridiculously high you had to lean over and look down to find him––and says “Oh, the new keyboard is not here yet! It will come tomorrow by 5 PM.” 

J. A. Odartey 


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