To be clear, I have more than one friend in Africa, although I also don’t have a thousand either (no point in PC-induced lies over here…). More specifically, I have 2 good friends who’ve been living in Sub-Saharan Africa for years, one of them for over 15 of those actually. In other words, I see him once in a while when he pops up in Paris for a usually short visit. Last time was a couple of years ago, when the Seine river had reached heights that had everyone fearing for a proper flood. And my friend was taking pictures: “Didn’t realize you had that sort of shit over here too!”.
And, out of nowhere, I saw him post on Facebook last weekend: “Will be in Paris till Wednesday”. Well, not exactly out of nowhere: last exchange we’d had before that was a couple of weeks ago when I’d invited him to my upcoming wedding, and he replied he wasn’t sure he would be in town. Understandably. And that was the end of that, before I saw his Facebook post. So I immediately replied:
- So you don’t have time for a wedding, but you have time for a weekend in Paris for May bank holidays?
- I’m here on business… but can meet for coffee on Sunday!
- Cool! Remember Starbucks?
And so I managed to bring him to my usual central Paris Starbucks, because I feel that the company lacks promotion. Also, I wanted to see how the guy, who otherwise lives in an Ivory Coast mansion - or so I gather - fares in a tiny Paris-sized Starbucks with a plastic cup in hand. Cuz the guy is a bit of an adventurer: the last I saw him wearing a suit was… never. And he confirmed he didn’t use one in Africa all that much: “shorts work just as well!”.
That time with the Seine flood, we’d also met his 2 kids for the first time, and they were even crazier than their dad: the younger one, who must have been 2 and a bit at the time (in other words, pretty tiny still) kept running around everywhere, not realizing that cars were a potential threat to one’s livelihood. At some point, he ran head first into a table corner on the café terrace we were sitting at: he didn’t even make a sound. I would have cried my balls out. As an adult.
So I asked about the kids:
- Oh, they’re great…
- Are they into smartphones and Internet and all that shit?
- Well, yes and no… We moved last year and it took a couple of months to get the Internet back.
- A couple of months?!
- Yeah. But we have it now.
- I would never have lasted that long.
- Funny, because my older boy once said to me when he was angry ‘When you’re old, I’ll put in a hospice where they don’t have internet’. To which I replied ‘Nice try’.
- Would have worked with me. The only thing worse than being anywhere without wifi is being anywhere without coffee…
- So, basically, you wanna put into a Starbucks hospice?
- Can it be done?
- In Africa it can…
Talk about an incentive…