Monday, July 20, 2009

Don't Do What I Did


A chat with my friend, Carol, reminded me of the following little story that happened back in 2002. This is (yet another) story that illustrates my limited brain power.

There is a wonderful little island in Lake Huron called Mackinaw Island. It is in the Straits of Mackinaw; where Lake Huron and Lake Michigan meet. It is also the home of the Mackinaw Bridge (above); a 5-mile-long bridge that is similar to the Golden Gate bridge. The bridge connects the Lower Peninsula of Michigan with the Upper Peninsula.

Mackinaw Island is eight miles in circumference. The unique thing about this populated island is there are no motorized vehicles (except an ambulance and a fire truck). Everything is horse-drawn. We think it's a magnificent get-a-way that puts us in a different frame of mind whenever we go there. It put me in a different frame of mind this time, too - brain dead.

We were shopping one day in a little Birkenstock store on the island. As usual, I had a camera - actually a camera on one shoulder and a camera bag on the other. I did something I NEVER do. I set my camera down to do something. Never set your camera down if you're not in a familiar place. Never. Ever. Ya know why? Because you might forget it. You've already guessed what happens next…..

We bought a couple items and walked out. I had my camera BAG on my shoulder, so there was comfort in knowing I had my camera with me. But I didn't. I had the BAG, not the camera. And I went merrily on my way. This wasn’t just any camera. It was a Nikon D1. Nikon's first DSLR. How much was a new Nikon D1 at that time? $5000 (with no lens). Cha-ching.

What followed was a series of "ignorance is bliss" activities. We had a relaxing dinner at a local joint. Then we went back to our hotel and I leisurely proceeded to get dressed for a run around the island. One of my favorite runs on the planet is an 8-mile run around the island…along the island shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. You can't beat it. I enjoyed every second of it. Fresh air, sound of the surf, horses clip-clopping along. I'm happy as a clam...whistling a happy tune.

I finished my run and headed back to the hotel. By this time, it's been 3-hours since I left my camera in the store and I still didn't realize it. What a moron. When I set foot in our room, my wife instantly shoved me back out the door and shouted, "You need to get back to the Birkenstock store!!!!!" You left your camera there!!!!! I didn't know what hit me.

What follows is a tale of a genuinely nice person. The woman who worked in the store discovered my camera. And she remembered me. She went through her store receipts and found a Visa receipt with my name on it. By now her store had closed for the day. Then she proceeded to call hotels on the Island to find where we were staying. There are many hotels on the Island, but she found us. I hustled back to the store where she had my camera waiting for me. Whew. I insisted that she take a reward and she refused. I begged her. She refused. She wouldn't do it under any circumstances. Period.

She ended up taking a ferry back to the mainland 3-hours later than her usual departure from the island, because I am an idiot. There are SO MANY ways this story could have ended badly. Bless her heart.

And I'll never set my camera down in an unfamiliar place again. I'm not smart enough.

Bless you, nice lady, where ever you are. Our world needs more people like you.



Shutterbug said...

Dan, this is such a nice story and what a beautiful picture of the bridge. We hope to take the kids up to the island soon. I have been pretty fortunate so far with keeping track of my SLR, but don't get my started on my daughter's camera and my son's cell phone, lol. My daughter left her camera on the playground at school and did not realize until late in the evening. I freaked and ran over and begged the school maintenance man to open up the school so I could check the halls, lol. He obliged and I found it. I guess that is what I get for letting a six year old have a $300 Olympus. Thanks again for sharing. She takes really good pictures though. Have a good day!

Dan Denardo said...

It seems I learn all my lessons the hard way, Carol, but in this case, I learned a lesson and got "let off the hook" too. Whew! Have a great day! Good to hear from you.

Ron said...

I've been in similar situations, but not for a period of 3 hours, maybe a minute or two of forgetting where I left my camera--and usually it's my point and shoot left in the store while I put it down to pay for something, not a D1 style.

With my bigger cameras (video mainly), I get into a routine of always putting it on the same shoulder--every time! That way, if I feel the weight isn't there, I know it's missing and I back track! I follow the same rule with passports, wallet, keys, etc. I always keep them in the same pocket, no matter which pant/shirt I wear. That way, I have a routine of where it is--and if I can't feel the familiar weight or how it hits my body when I walk(cargo pant pockets), I know its missing.

Routine, bro...ROUTINE!!!

Glad to hear it was a happy ending.

Dan Denardo said...

Dude, you've taught me a lot about ROUTINE and how important it is! Thanks! I need all the help I can get.

Andy Richards said...

Too late :-). Not with a camera, but I have already "been there, done that." I suspect we are not unique. Seems a little harsh to refer to yourself as a "moron." I like to tell my kids we aren't stupid, but we all to stupid things.

What I LOVE about this story is not your little proof of your humanity, but the shopkeeper's actions.

I daily deal with people in my office in sensitive family areas involving trust and confidence and the fears that people have about their loved ones having conflict in the future. I have a "rose-tinted glasses" view of people and am often found to say that the vast majority of people are honest and good (I just get to see the other small minority more often because of what I do). This lady underscores that my rose-tinted view just MIGHT be right! Bless her. Hope you made a photo for her!

Dan Denardo said...

Haha! Thanks for going easy on me, Andy. You're right...we do stupid things - it's the behavior not the person (I think the term "moron" might be a term popularized by my generation).

Loved hearing your perspective. I'll bet you see and hear it all.

Have a great weekend, my friend.

Cyndy said...

I did this in May, In a bowling tournament...bowl today, head out to Tahoe for two days.....I discovered I did not have my $1500
camera when they announced NO FLASH
photos......I was messed up, you can't leave or you get a ZERO.....the wonderful people at the restaurant found it, must have fell out of my purse ......I thank them every day....
not so much the loss of the camera, but the loss of the photos.....C

Dan Denardo said...

Good point about losing the photos, Cyndy. That alone could be more valuable than the camera. We were both lucky!

chemist said...


Well, it's nice to know I am not the only one to do such a thing!! I had left my Canon 20D in the departure lounge at the Steamboat Springs, CO airport. As I was boarding the plane, I THEN remembered my camera and ran back thru security (a definite No-No) and thankfully retrieved my precious camera!!