To balance the frustrated newbie with the underperforming laptop (see my previous post), very late last night I had a most pleasant encounter.
The girl had an account almost a year old, but she still wore one of the starter avatars. She was standing next to one of the signs at White Tiger Help Island, apparently reading it. She didn't respond when I first greeted her, but when I tried again after a few minutes, she said "hello, I'm new and don't know what I should do."
She turned out to be very intelligent, and caught on quickly to my suggestions. She also turned out to be Finnish. (I am not sure how you can be Finnished when you've only just started SL, but there it is.) I've met several Finns in SL, and they all speak excellent English and are Good People. She was looking for the sim sponsored by her university, and I was able to find it after a brief search, and take her there.
We parted as Friends, and I'm looking forward to speaking with her again. The whole encounter was just so...so nice that it completely made up for the frustrations of earlier. Thank you, Aksimooni!