The Right Click

My webmeister was talking me through a technical difficulty yesterday when I heard him say, "Right click on the upper left-hand box."

"Huh?", I responded.

"Right click on the box."

Silence. I thought, "Am I clicking wrong?" but I said, "I don't understand what you just said."

My webmeister repeated, a little louder and a little slower, "Right click on the upper left-hand box."

More silence. "I'm wrong clicking?" I thought. But I said, again, a little slower and a little louder, "I don't understand what you just said. I can click or not click. Clicking on that box doesn't do anything."

I heard my webmeister clicking keys, "I'll look up on Google to find the right click equivalent for a Mac." A minute later he said, "Hold down the control key and click in the upper left-hand box." An undocumented, hidden menu appeared.

Those of you well experienced with Wintel computers (like my Webmeister) would probably have instantly understood the instruction. I very rarely have anything to do with those machines, which seem unusably crude to me. I always wondered why anyone would design two adjacent buttons when one would do. Right and left are two categories outside my keyboard experience.

Later, Amy asked me if I'd ever had to rely upon a Wintel machine to do real work. I reflected and realized that I had not. I moved from mainframe, where I used a text-based interface, directly to an early Mac. I was supposed to create performance appraisals and do salary budgeting on a WinTel PC, but I quickly learned to create them on the Mac and copy them over.

I'm not saying Macs are superior to WinTel machines, but they certainly are superior for me. I realize that I might be at a severe disadvantage in the job market because I don't know how to launch Windows, access Outlook Express, or shut down a "real" PC. I occasionally use one when I need to look at my email from an internet cafe, but it always feels like I'm wearing size 58 clunky boots whenever I do.

So I speak a curious dialect. I cannot understand some common idioms. I've always said that I took up with Macs because I wasn't smart enough to use a Wintel PC. I probably could learn how to use one if I really had to. Fortunately, I can write without even remembering my right from my left.

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