Say No to the Fat Man


An obese man in his mid 30’s came through the doors of Starbucks and walked straight towards me as I went to sit down. “Do you know anything about computers?”  he asked.

‘Uh oh,’ I thought.

“What’s the problem?” I asked. To note, the correct answer to this question is always No.

“I can’t get rid of the subtitles when I play a video,” he said.

“I can probably help with that,” I said, “It should just be a drop down menu option. Cue it up.”

He sat down at the table next to me and loaded up his computer. It was one of the swivel touch screen laptops that use a pen as the interface because we live in the future.

“I’m Jeremy,” I said.

“Alan,” he said as I shook his limp wristed outstretched hand.

He started up a movie in full screen, and I looked it over. There was no menu. When I minimized the movie, his Windows bar was set on the top of the screen blocking the movie’s controls. I unlocked the Windows bar and moved it to the side. I got the impression this was the point where he’d normally restart his machine.

I maximized the movie again and found a gear icon. The very first option was a drop down for Subtitles: ‘English’ or ‘None’?

“Here it is,” I said, “All you need to do is hit this gear down here, and then select from English to None like this.” I showed him.

“What do you mean by select?” he asked.

“Just click it,” I said.

“You mean press it?” he asked.

“That should work,” I said. “Give it a try.”

“Where’s do I press?”

I pointed to the gear icon. He pressed it. The same menu came up.

“And now what?”

“You go to the drop down and press ‘None’”

“Can you do it?”

“Well you need to do some of it, or how will you learn anything?”

“Haha. I see. Okay. I’ll try.”

It took three tries, but he figured it out.

“You do have headphones, yes?” I asked.

“I have it all the way down.” He pointed, showing me his plan was to watch the video on pictures only without the subtitles.

“Great. I’m going to get to work now. Glad I was able to help.”

“Thank you so much.”

“You’re welcome.”

I put my headphones in. For about 40 seconds he sat there staring at the moving pictures on his screen with his laptop still pointed towards me.

“Excuse me?” I heard over the sound of Brian Jonestown Massacre.

“Yes?” I said.

“It’s still there.”

I went back to the menu and clicked it again and said, “There you go.”

“Perfect,” he said.

He watched the video for another minute, and then packed up his laptop and walked out the door, never ordering a coffee. For me Starbucks is a place to get some writing done. For him, apparently, it’s his own personal Geek Squad.

Lesson? Just say No.