I’ve been looking forward to today. My first business trip since getting my iPad two weeks ago is going to be great. Imagine the admiring looks I’ll get in the airport lounge, the conversations complete strangers will strike up with me just to get close to it. I’ll be the envy of Terminal 5, and just imagine the face of the lucky blighter who gets the seat next to me on the plane. It’ll light up when he sees it nestling in my lap, and he’ll be gushing with gratitude after the two-hour guided tour.
I had all this planned out in my mind, but it didn’t quite work out that way; the way things work in my mind seldom agrees with the way they work in reality. I was going to spend the tube journey from Highgate to Heathrow reading my latest eBook: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. But once I sat down in the crowded compartment I found I couldn’t take the iPad out of my bag. I tried, twice, but something inside me yelled “Bad idea!”. Bad idea because I’d almost certainly end up getting mugged and arrive for my flight battered and iPad-less, or bad idea because my fellow travelers would think me a smug git? I didn’t really want either, truth be told, but the urge to show it off was still strong. I sat there conflicted for another three stops and then bit the bullet. I donned my reading glasses, took a deep breath, and got it out.
I had kept my gaze down, trying to look unconcerned as if this were the most natural thing in the world, but I could feel dozens of pairs of eyes boring into me as the news of an iPad’s sudden appearance spread through the carriage. After a while I cautiously glanced up expecting everyone to be staring at me, but the impact I had had on my fellow passengers seemed to have been precisely zero.
Of course it wasn’t actually zero impact, oh no. No, this is London. These are reserved Brits (apart from the tourists). They’re probably going “Oooh!” and “Aah!” internally. Yes that’ll be it. I’m having the effect I’d hoped for but they’re working hard to hide it. That’s OK, I know it’s there.
I tried to read my book for a couple of stops but it was no good. I couldn’t concentrate, too busy wondering who was shooting a glance — admiring, hateful or otherwise — in my direction. So I put it away again and felt an immediate surge of relief that the ordeal was over.
It was a similar story at the airport terminal. My first dilemma was whether to take it out of my bag and put it in its own tray through the security scanner like you have to do with your laptop. There was no iPad Advice in evidence so I erred on the side of caution and got it out, placing it neatly next to my laptop in one of the grey plastic trays. Again, no reaction from anyone. No “that one of those iPad thingies?” from the security guard, no fellow passengers nudging each other and pointing. Am I invisible or what?
Through security and it was time to think about food. I took a table for one at Wagamama and sat there surfing the web on my iPad while I waited for my noodles to arrive. Several waiters and customers walked past but again, no-one commented. I wonder how different my experience would have been had I been at a U.S. airport. Would a crowd have gathered?
Clearly the arrival of the iPad is a much smaller deal to many people that it is to me. If I’d been in Wagamama and seen someone sporting an iPad before its UK release I’d have, I’d have, well, I’d have tried to get a sneaky look over his shoulder at least. I wouldn’t have actually said anything of course. Oh no, wouldn’t want to give the smug git the satisfaction.