Three weeks ago I took a trip to Europe with my wife, to Zurich, Paris, and Barcelona. The majority of our trip would be spent in Bordeaux, so I had gone to great lengths preparing my precious 3G iPad for the excursion. I downloaded travel guides, maps, wine guides, three novels, the Al Pacino movie “Insomnia,” a few of my favorite podcasts and more. I had also brought along the iPad Camera Connection Kit; it lets me upload photos to the iPad by plugging a memory card into the charging port.
I was so excited about my iPad's travel materials that I brought it out to review with my wife while we were on the train from the airport to our first hotel in Zurich. I excitedly tabbed through the maps of the Zurich train guide. When we arrived at our stop, I put the iPad down on the train seat next to me, loaded my backpack onto my suitcase, and disembarked. Without the iPad.
A few paces into the train station, my wife asked why my backpack was open. I looked at it and knew immediately. That compartment was for an iPad. The iPad was still on the train. I felt as though someone had just punched me in the teeth.
My iPad. My precious, precious iPad. It was traveling through Switzerland safely nestled in its case on the seat of a train, getting farther and farther from me every minute.
I had not enabled Apple's Find My iPad feature because I had not planned to use the 3G service abroad. I had, however, put a passlock on the device so if anyone tried to use it, they would need my 4-digit pin number. This turned out to be my saving grace. Or at least I think it was.
Some good-natured soul may have returned the device without the screen locked -- but I think the passlock helped.
When we arrived at the hotel, I asked the concierge to help me file a lost and found report with the Zurich train authority, as I was instructed to do by the not-so-helpful rail staff. The concierge turned out to be a lifesaver; my German is nowhere near good enough to fill out that form. She had to call the help line with questions herself.
That afternoon I was tempted to buy a new iPad at the Apple Store in Zurich. My wife talked me out of it. (She had a lot more faith in humankind than I did.) If I still hadn't heard anything by the time we arrived in Paris, we decided I could buy a new iPad at the Apple Store in the Louvre.
The next day we left for Paris and once again I stopped into the Lost and Found office, to no avail. The day after that, I found myself at the Louvre.
I decided to take advantage of the free Wi-Fi to check my e-mail on my iPhone, and learned that the God of Jobs was shining down on me from that celestial Apple Store! There in the center of Paris, I received an e-mail from the Zurich train authority: They had found my lost item. It awaited me at their office.
I didn't plan to return to Zurich, however, so I asked the hotel concierge to help me retrieve the iPad. They did and sent it by post. I still await its arrival, obsessively following the tracking number and counting the minutes.
In the three weeks since I last saw my iPad, I realize how dependent upon it I've become. It's not only one of my primary communication tools, but also my primary reading gadget and media player, and one of my favorite social networking devices.
I feel like I've lost a limb.
I had to borrow my wife's iPad, which has now become "the family iPad," to compile my notes for Fox & Friends. I had to read The Economist in hardcopy form, dust off my Amazon Kindle to finish those novels, and go straight to sleep when I climb into bed at night instead of staying awake blissfully tabbing around the iPad.
When Steve Jobs announced the iPad last year, he said it would be the device that bridged the gap between the desktop and the mobile phone. I hadn't been aware that there was a gap between those devices. Oh, how I feel that gap now.
Or maybe there wasn't a gap -- until the iPad created one. I'm looking forward to a blissful reunion, once my iPad returns from its European tour.