I Used Reddit to Get My Wife the Perfect Present (From Paris)
My wife and I headed to Paris about a month after we got married. It was fabulous.
We reveled in the sights, the food, the ambiance—everything you would expect to enjoy in the City of Light. But there was one thing that amused us more than anything else. It was an apron.
Yes, the apron glared at us from a tacky souvenir stand beneath the Eiffel Tower like a pouty french waiter who’d run out of cigarettes. On the apron, the source of the glare, was a sullen looking cat. The cat was dressed in a ghastly outfit featuring a beret, a blue striped shirt and for some reason, a red bandana. Naturally the cat was clutching a French baguette and standing in front of a representation of the Eiffel Tower itself. It was one the worst clichés we’d ever laid our eyes on. We laughed uncontrollably at how wonderfully absurd and awful it was. Jo had to have it.
And then I failed.
I failed to purchase it on the spot, foolishly thinking, as so many travelers do, that it was a common item that I’d see over and over at souvenir stands throughout the city. Fail! How many times have I learned that lesson in my travels? When you see that rare souvenir that knocks your socks off you’d best grab it right then and there because you may very well never have a second chance.
And so it went. The rest of our week in Paris was marvelous, but there was a pang of regret burning a hole in my soul wherever we wandered. We never made it back to that souvenir stand and the cat apron never turned up elsewhere. I resigned myself to the fates and we returned home happy but apron-less. I tried to find the apron online. I even used Google street view to figure out the name of the street vendor who had offered it. All was in vain.
Then I remembered that travelers are a special breed. They trust on another in ways strangers typically won’t and put a lot of faith in the earning of good karma. In my years as a traveller I’ve borrowed from and leant money to people on busses, given strangers couches to sleep on, and been given free food when I was cashless. That’s not to say travel is utopian but with a little faith, wonderful things happen.
So I posted a simple request on the “Paris” section of Reddit (populated by English speaking ex-pats and travelers). I posted a description of the apron, where I saw it, and a simple question – might someone be able to pop by, buy it and mail it to me in the United States?
I expected a litany of disingenuous requests to send money in advance to Nigerian bank accounts. What I actually got were enthusiastic notes of support and mutual appreciation for the apron’s hilarity. Most folks said they’d just left town and were unable to pick it up. But after a week or so, a young woman on vacation from Kentucky said, no problem, she’d just drop right by and grab it and then mail it to me when she got home. I was incredulous that she wasn’t asking for money in advance but I nonetheless gave her my address and promised to cover the cost.
Sure enough, about two weeks later I got a package from Kentucky containing none other than our lost souvenir. I promptly paid the woman via Paypal (plus a little extra because you know, I just had to). There was no drama or complicated transaction, just a matter of fact favor paid to a complete stranger who didn’t even know my last name. It’s a marvelous story of the goodwill of fellow travelers to get you out of a bind.
And my wife? Ecstatic.
It’ll always be one of our favorite travel stories and every time that cat glares at us from across the kitchen we’ll be reminded of our fabulous trip and the fabulous people out there in the world who really want to make it better for you and me.