Let’s get one thing straight right here and now: I haven’t owned a TV as long as Apple TV has been on the market so that makes at least one Apple product that I have not owned. And come to think of it, there were at least two Apple desktops released in the ’90s that my business partner wouldn’t let me buy. Other than that, I’ve been a pretty good customer.
Since first using a Mac SE in Calgary in ’83, and buying a Mac Plus and Laser Writer for the business in Cloverdale in ’86, I have personally contributed to the meteoric ascent of Apple’s stock price. Since that initial purchase I have bought (and later sold, often for only slightly less than the purchase price) no less two Mac IIs, two LaserWriters, five keyboards, one replacement trackpad, two AirPorts, one MightyMouse, AppleWorks, AppleCare, Mobile Me, iCloud, one iMac (the one with the streamlined translucent casing), the original iPod (remember the track wheel?), one iPod Mini, one Nano, one iPod Touch, at least two iPads, an insane amount of music via iTunes, the first iBook, at least one PowerBook, three or four MacBook Pros, one MacBook Air, practically every iPhone (1st Gen, 3GS, 4S, 6, 6 Plus, 7 Plus) and enough EarPods to string a flimsy white wire between Toronto and Cupertino.
So on Friday morning when my current EarPods met their demise on the ladder of a bunk bed in Paris – after less than a month of use – there was only one logical thing to do: head to the Apple Store and upgrade to the new wireless AirPods.
“Do you have AirPods?” I asked one of the fresh-faced kids in skinny jeans and even skinnier Apple t-shirt. “Sorry, dude.” He explained that that particular store had yet to receive a shipment of AirPods and he didn’t know when they will. I asked if he could check other stores in the area. As luck would have it, there were two pairs in stock in the entire country and they were both at the store in Dijon.
“Sold!,” I said. “But they’re in Dijon,” he replied. “That’s okay,” I said.
“Well, if you have a credit card we can reserve them but you would have to pick them up at the store in Dijon and Dijon is a four hour drive from here. You realize that?” “No problem,” I replied. “I have nothing to do tomorrow so I’ll take the train to Dijon and pick them up at the store,” I said matter-of-factly. “In Dijon?,” he questioned in the tone one might use when asking a friend if he really intended to eat that six-day-old tuna sandwich from the vending machine at the bus depot. “Yep, let’s do this,” I said. And thus the adventure that would become Saturday #142 was in play.
I arrived in Dijon at 8:25 on Saturday morning. My day started at 4:30 and included a short walk to Gare du Nord, the D-Line to Gare de Lyon, and the high-speed TGV train to Dijon-ville station. From there I took a tram to the Apple Store in suburban Toison d’Or.
It would make for a more interesting story if I introduced a few complications at this point. Something like the inventory system being out of date and the store not having any stock after all – but there were no such snafus. I was in and out of the store in five minutes and within seven minutes of stepping off the tram I had successfully paired the AirPods with my iPhone. I returned to the tram with Green Day’s Bang Bang playing in full stereophonic glory. Yes, friends, AirPods are magical! Not “Unicorns and Rainbows” magical but pretty damn slick, in my opinion.
I took the tram back into the city centre and strolled around for an hour while listening to Debussy, of course. Around 1:00 I was getting hungry so I scored a table at a very busy cafe on the edge of the main square. I was looking forward to people-watching while I sampled some local pâté, a salad, and a nice glass of wine. I had finished the wine before I was done my meal so I asked for a second glass. This is where things started to go off the rails. The waiter took my pantomime of “large glass” to mean “small bottle” and he returned with a litre of the same excellent Côtes du Rhône. What was I to do? I wasn’t quick enough to stop him from opening it – he did so in under 45 seconds – and I didn’t want to risk being called “stupid American” just because I couldn’t order some wine in French, so I took one for the team and drank the litre of wine.
With about three hours of sleep the previous night, and now 1.25 litres of wine making its way through my bloodstream, combined with the warmth and bright sunshine on a beautiful patio, I could think of only one thing and that was a nap! I haven’t (yet) stooped to sleeping on park benches so I headed down the street to a quaint little café and ordered a café doble. When that didn’t produce the desired reaction, I ordered another doble. And a medium Americano to go. Thankfully that did the trick and I spent my last few hours in Dijon practically jogging from shop to gallery to shop.
The only souvenirs I’m buying these days are embroidered patches so I was happy to spot what appeared to be a single Dijon crest in the window of a gift store.
The shopkeeper was Chinese so she probably spoke at least one language other than French. It was not English, however. Pointing towards the window display, I asked: “Can I see the patch in the window?” “Non,” she replied. I rephrased my question, albeit in English, to which she replied even more curtly: “Non!”
I’ll try this again. “There’s a patch in the window. I want it. Pay money,” I said. Once again the woman said “non!” She reached below the counter and probably triggered a silent alarm as a man with shaving cream on his chin soon appeared. He was not happy about being called from the bathroom. He spoke a few words of English, namely “out,” “leave,” and “NOW!” With razor in hand, he pointed to the door.
I didn’t want to argue with a man holding a razor but I knew there had been a misunderstanding so I tried again. “But I want to buy the patch in the window. How much is it?” Thankfully the man understood a bit more English than the woman and he translated. Then they both chuckled. As the woman retrieved the patch, the man explained in halting English that homeless men stop in almost daily and offer to wash the windows for a few Euros. Of course “wash the window” sounds a lot like “patch in window” to a non-English speaker.
I learned two things after a day in beautiful Dijon: (1) I look like a homeless person. (Of course I am a homeless person – I just didn’t think it showed); and (2) a gleaming white pair of wireless AirPods are not a status symbol in France.