Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Personal Tragedy for the Moderately Privileged
and Terminally Neurotic

When I returned home from the gym last night, I wasn't in the best of moods. I spent the three-block walk to my apartment waxing contemplative and — as a result of my contemplations — I felt more than a little down.

Which is perhaps why I found it to be rather fortuitous when I saw a random CD in that strip of grass that separates the cracked city sidewalk from the street. Not that the mere sighting was a sign from God himself, but that upon further inspection I saw that it was the soundtrack to Reality Bites. The CD was broken in two, but the title itself was perfectly in tact, taunting my camera-less self from the cold, brown/green, leaf-covered grass.

It was even somewhat propped up, though a little off-balance, by the exposed roots of some random tree, as if begging me to capture it in all of its ironic glory.

(For those of you who make fun of my tendency to carry a camera everywhere I go, this is precisely the sort of picture I'm terrified of missing.)

So I made a note to myself to pack my camera Wednesday morning, which I did rather promptly after getting out of bed.

But I was in a hurry (as I am most mornings), so I quickly unwrapped my camera from its case while I made the bitter walk to my urban chariot (winter is here at last!).

I got out my three-year-old Sony. Turned it on. And then smiled a crooked little smile when I saw the broken CD supine in its original resting place.

(This all the while a fellow tenant — to whom I've never spoken more than "hey" and "hello" — walked past, turning her head and raising her brow as she tried to figure what on earth I was up to).

But I wasn't so much worried about securing my status as "that strange girl in apartment B" as I was with the task at hand. So I hit the shutter, only to be greeted by a punch in the stomach.

And by that I mean... a heart-wrenching message flashed on the LCD:


I confirmed a memory stick was in place, took it out, and put it back in. I tried again.


I took the memory stick out again, confirmed it was "unlocked," and then flipped the switch from SIDE A to SIDE B.


I tried again. And again. But always to that same, miserable end.

I boarded up my camera, threw it into the car, and drove onward.

Later it occurred to me to try a different memory stick, since my 256 MB card isn't made by the camera's manufacturer, though the 32 MB backup is.

So I sucked in my breath, uttered a couple hail Mary's, and tried again.


OK, I thought. Stay calm. When a laptop acts up, one of the first pieces of advice is to remove all peripheral devices, including all sources of power.

So I took out the battery, and the memory stick. I waited 30 minutes, and put everything back in.


I did this again, the next time waiting two hours before re-inserting the battery.


It was about then that I acknowledged the cold, hard fact that my camera was likely broken. And these digital dohickeys are as difficult to repair as they are expensive to replace.

Or, to sum it up,

[drumroll please]



Winter said...

I could actually see the end of this one coming!

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

Dern! Guess I need to work on my surprise endings...

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

[And my swears.]

Academic Advisor said...

They're aren't really that expensive to replace. We live in an increasingly disposable culture, remember? Technology is hardly worth the hassle and cost of repairs these days, but buying a newer, better piece of technology is virtually painless.

Case in point, Mollie and I recently lost our digital camera. We took it with us when we went back east over Thanksgiving, and we're pretty certain we left it in our rental car. (We called, but of course, the rental car company doesn't have it.) The camera wasn't a tried and true companion of years like yours was. It wasn't even a terribly good camera. But it was OK for us. AND it had several pictures of my adorable new neice on the memory card, which was also lost. Needless to say, we were very upset, but I talked to friends, consulted some salespeople at the local camera store, did some internet research, and bought a new camera that is considerably better than our old one. And it only cost a couple of hundred. (Just slightly more than the price of the old one 18 months ago.)

So look at it this way, it won't be hard or costly to get a new camera, and there is a strong chance that the same memory cards, presumably with pictures still on them, will work in the new one. It's upsetting, I know, but it's only a lense and some circuits.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

AA - Sorry to hear about the camera... the lost photos in particular. Did anyone else have their camera, so you have some back-up shots?

I firmly believe car rental agencies take whatever they find in returned vehicles, no questions asked (or answered). I had a friend leave a case of 200 CDs in a rental vehicle. He knew precisely where they were in the car, but simply forgot to take them out when unloading. When he went back to retrieve the disks, they said they hadn't found any.

As for repairs in general: I think it's sad how quick we are to "replace" things when, once upon a time, "repair" was always the first option. Not any more. I can even recall taking vaccums in for work when I was a kid; such repair shops now scarcely exist. Which reminds me somehow of computer printers: why on earth is the printer itself, with ink, always cheaper than refill cartridges? Even when the "ink included" is actually only a half-filled cartridge, I think more than a handful of people would go that route.

As for my current camera concerns: unfortunately, my camera includes technology no longer available in "civilian" photography equipment. Apparently the infared night shot function -- which enables me to take cityscape pictures by night without needing a tripod -- was used for ill purposes by others, and the manufacturers were sued. So no matter what sort of camera I get, it won't have the functions and tools I'm used to. I'm sure I'll adjust, but I'll miss the option.

James Burnett said...

That would have been a great photo - Reality Bites. It's almost as if someone put the disc there to catch the attention of passers by.

disgruntled world citizen said...

i say "sue the bastards!" i dont know who, just sue the bastards!

Anonymous said...

Don't take this the wrong way but I don't know which is more upsetting: The loss of the camera or the loss of the shot. That is truly one shot which needed documenting.

What was on the memory stick? You may want to try dumping all the pics on it so it is empty and see what happens. Wish I were more help but this goes back to the old joke: "Q: How many computer programmers does it take to change a light bulb? A: None, that is a hardware issue."

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

James - I'd considered that, too. I mean, it was just too priceless a shot. But in this city, you'll see refuse like that all over the place. I could put together an exhibit on "trash" shots alone.

DWC - Your subpoena will be arriving shortly.

BPP - I responded to this comment on the wrong post. Eh. Um. See the "next" entry. And, oh, love the light bulb joke. Too true.