Morning all:

Quote Of The Week:

“I haven’t got the slightest idea how to change people, but still I keep a long list of prospective candidates just in case I should ever figure it out.” David Sedaris

Hello from the French Riviera or Côte D’Azur as the locals call it. Three conferences/conventions in a week and a half and finally I am beginning to feel it—I now need to transform my morning coffee into a café latte. I have lost count how many hundreds of people I have greeted and tried to bring my version of the company message – breakfast, lunch, dinner and during the ongoing meetings.

The conference I attended in Atlanta from last Sunday through Tuesday had over 15,000 attendees. Aside from an exhibition covering the equivalent of 8 football fields they managed 1,200 individual topical meetings in this time frame. The organization for this event was amazing. Tuesday evening, about the time I climbed aboard my plane, they threw a social event headlined by singer John Mayer.

I flew in the very back of a large 10 seat wide B-747. Before the cabin door closed I managed to talk to the cabin attendant who gave me the ‘heads up’ when it was ok to swap seats. A second after he came by and tapped me on the shoulder I laid claim to the four center seats of row 46. I stretched out, put my eye shade on and adjusted the volume on some classical music in the head set, I had already advised the crew I did not want dinner and woke up an hour and a half prior to landing.

Here in Nice I met up with an old friend, Pierre F. Pierre is a quintessential and very proud Frenchman. About my age, he spotted me and ran up. Even after 5 years I recognized the little too long mop of curly grey hair and a week’s growth for a beard. This time he was wearing a frumpled pair of cream colored linen slacks, a red striped yellow shirt and a sky blue ascot, all covered with a slightly too large bright mustard-yellow suit jacket.

Pierre had brought summer to southern France.

I got his welcoming bear hug complete with a kiss on both cheeks and a heavily accented and very nasal “my friend Dirk it ees so good to see you” right in my ear.

This was my formal welcome to his country.

Thursday evening, over some wine, I mentioned to Pierre that I had become the proud owner of a classic Deux Chevaux – the 2CV. Now remember, I am in France and here Deux Chevaux stories abound—in fact, rumor has it that 80% of the French youth of a generation ago had their first ‘experience’ on the loosely sprung seats of a 2CV.

Pierre had his own story. It appears that when he was in college a Deux Chevaux unassumingly became his very first car—all for the equivalent of $10. It seems that he was in a bar, dead drunk, and drinking with an Australian. About closing time the Australian said that since he was flying out on a very early morning flight, and since he was somewhat ‘done in’, that he might as well grab a taxi and head for the airport. This caused a predicament since his car was in the parking lot and he really had no plans for it. Some more talk ensued, $10 exchanged, and a Deux Chevaux became Pierre’s first car.

Fast forward two weeks. Again Pierre was absolutely sloshed, it’s about 2 AM, and he’s heading down Paris’ Champs de Elyse. Now it seems that for $10 you cannot expect perfection and Pierre had accepted the fact that the car had no exhaust system, the cloth top flapped behind the car like a loose sail, and that approximately half the lights were absent, and his license plate has somehow been torn in half. This is when he heard that funny little distinctively French police siren directly behind him.

Pierre tells me that he just stood next to the car trying to hold himself steady as the two gendarmes with their pill-box caps kept walking circles around the car. “Nine” said the first, “no, it’s ten” said the second, to which Pierre ventured timidly, “Kilometers over the speed limit sirs?” “No, violations with the car” came the stern reply.

My friend received a repair order and was told to head straight home, to get to bed, and in the morning plan to start repairing his car. Only in France.

In the meantime, make it a great week everyone: my memory of last night’s amazing dinner on the waterfront will help propel me as I head home early tomorrow morning. But since this is my first and only opportunity to explore Nice, I am out of here.

Cheers,
Dirk

PS – since I cannot download my photos, waiting appears to be the only option

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