It was two weeks before Christmas and I still hadn’t purchased my wife’s big gift. I say big gift because I had already found some smaller gifts. You guessed it; by this I mean inexpensive gifts. Although she may have been satisfied with the Encyclopedia of North American Birds or the DVD version of the movie Pride & Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley, I wanted her to experience what I had, even if it was in a small way.
For a number of weeks before this, when we would go to the gym my wife would borrow my iPod while we exercised on the treadmills. It was at the gym I decided to get my wife an iPod of her own. Two years before, one of my employees had strongly urged that they should give me a 30GB Color iPod for my college graduation present. I knew that she probably wouldn’t be as excited about receiving an iPod as I had been, but thought it would be a fine gift anyway. At least she wouldn’t have to borrow mine.
We were trying to be more modest in our purchases that year and I had been cautioned not to spend a lot of money. I went to Costco in hopes of finding an iPod that would be affordable. Although I had every intention in buying an iPod, it was difficult to decide which one I should get. My quandary was that I had a 30GB iPod and that wasn’t enough media storage space for me. This expectation made purchasing the iPod shuffle out of the question, and the 30GB or 80GB iPods were just too expensive. This left me with the choice of the iPod nano with the capacity of 1000 or more songs, six different colors, and storage space of 2GB, 4GB or 8GB. I narrowed it down to a choice between the 2GB and 4GB models because the price of $249.00 for the 8GB iPod was the same list price of the 30GB iPod with 2.5-inch color video display. After some determined deliberation I left the store without my wife’s big gift. I was plagued with the feeling that 2GB was priced reasonable but would not be enough memory, and that the cost difference between the 4GB iPod and the 30GB video iPod were so close that I felt it made the 4GB iPod a bad choice.
A week later I was a bit disgusted with myself, not having purchased the gift yet. My indecisiveness had got the best of me and made me feel kind of silly for not making my mind up there and then to go back to the store and make the purchase. After all, what was the big deal! I expressed my disgust to a friend who in turn suggested that we look on craigslist to find an iPod that someone may be selling for a better price. In minutes we had found a 4GB iPod nano that was unopened in its original package for a little less than what it would cost to purchase a 2GB iPod at Costco. I made my mind up and after contacting the selling party I jumped in my car and drove to Mill Valley on one of the stormiest days of the year.
During the forty-five minute drive through torrential rainfall I began to question whether I had made the right decision. Eventually I did find the sellers home but not without getting lost on the winding roads up to their residence. I knocked on the door seeing the man I had spoken with on the phone, through a front widow working at a desk. I was welcomed in out of the rain and we made our transaction in his entree way. I tried to make small talk by asking him what he did for a living. He told me that he was a corporate business consultant. Looking at his home and artwork on the walls I imagined that he was very good at what he did. He asked me if I was buying the iPod for myself or for a Christmas gift. I told him that it was for my wife but I had a 30GB iPod myself. The man told me that he had got the iPod nano as a promotion gift when he bought a laptop for his daughter. After telling me that he had the 30GB iPod too, he paused for a moment and said, “The iPod has changed my life!”
On my drive home and since then I have been thinking about what this guy said. I realized that the reason I had gone to such lengths to purchase my wife an iPod was because my iPod had altered my life too. I know this may sound to some (those who don’t own an iPod) that I am a bit shallow or at the very least I have been swayed by consumerist exploitation, but the fact is that I do life differently since I was given the gift of an iPod. Proof of this is simple. Why else would I be taking it everywhere I go? Where else would I find so much of my growing music collection at my fingertips? How else would my treasured collection of hundreds of cds end up in my garage? How would I have listened to so many audio books, lectures and sermons? How could I be reading Soren Kierkegaard’s, Fear and Trembling while listening to insights and commentary given in lectures at UC Berkeley by renown philosopher Hubert Dreyfus? I could provide more examples and come up with the same conclusion. Why else would I have written this protracted post? “The iPod has changed my life!”