I work pretty hard at my job. It always pays off one way or another to give it my best effort.
Today, I reminded myself of that, or should I say, karma reminded me.
At the paper, we’re in the midst of Business Review season. This is where a chunk of work each day is added on to the everyday chunk of work we usually do.
Sometimes this is … well … burdensome.
Much of it is driving someplace to get a locator photo – a picture of a sign or a building. As a visual storyteller, this is not my cup of tea.
So, I will occasionally get a little salty about these assignments (read on and you’ll get the pun I just made!) The section is huge! I mean, if you drop the section on your toe taking it out of the paper box, you will be limping for a couple days. So, to pull off a section this huge, it requires a lot of photos.
Today, I had to get a few of these shots. One was of a business along a fairly busy four-lane road with no shoulder to pull off, at least not now with snow piled up on the side. I drove into the lot next to the business and didn’t really see, at quick glance, much of a picture opportunity, so I went up around the building to the other side.
Now, here I’ll interject another little bit of information. I have grown tired of wearing my heavy winter boots this winter and today made a terrible error in judgement.
I wore my sneakers.
I had worn them the last few days with temperatures into the 40s and it felt good. It was not 40 today, but defiantly I slipped on those nice light tennis shoes and went out the door.
My feet were cold. Real cold. Like, do I actually feel my toes or just the pain where the numb toes leave the pads of my feet, cold?
So, on the other side of the building, I saw a potential picture if I got out of my car and went up on the steps of the building next door. I got out of my car and balanced on top of the blocks of ice that a few hours earlier were my feet and made my way up to that vantage point on the stairs. I was wrong, it lacked the potential I gave it credit for having. Not liking to waste my time, I made a really, really lousy photo of the business.
I hobbled back into my car that I left running with heat on full blast. “Oh woe is me,” I thought as I tapped my feet on the floor somehow thinking, maybe that will warm them up. I sat there for a minute looking at cars going by and looking up and down the road for a place where I could pull off and make a long lens picture, preferably from inside my car.
Then it hit me, maybe I can do a drive-by and try to frame the business with a couple passing cars on the other side of the road.
A totally lazy-ass move.
I knew it was. I knew it has almost never worked before for such a picture. I knew it would likely haunt me the rest of the day if what I did was to cave into mediocrity’s argument. You know that little devil on your shoulder whispering bad thoughts into your ear?
At the moment, I was alright with that.
I mean my feet were cold … right?
So, I pull out onto the road with a plan. I realize immediately my window was pretty dirty, so I rush to hit the automatic button to roll it down just in time to put my camera up at the open window to snap away as two vehicles come down the road in the other lanes.
This is when it became instantly clear to me, just how bad of a decision this was.
It was like a Gatling-gun of muddy road slush and salt raining my car with Hell’s fury. My head snapped back. This slush had some velocity to it.
Thankfully, I was in awe of nothing today and my mouth was shut.
I was immediately blinded by stuff on my windshield, on my glasses, on my camera lens. Everywhere on me was coated with muddy droplets of ice and salt. In the spring, I’ll be able to plant salt loving annuals in the backseat of my car with the amount of mud that came through that open window.
And I didn’t even get the picture I was trying for.
When something like this happens to me, I don’t get mad, I laugh. I actually laugh pretty hard and, because of this, I thought I better pull over and just get it out of my system.
So, I pull back in to the lot next to the business again and let it out. As I laugh, I wipe off my camera that looked as if I was a monster truck mud bogger photographer. I ran the wipers good and sprayed the window washer, wiped off my glasses and tried to not smear the icy mud into my sweatshirt.
I sit and think about life a little.
These things remind us of the humor of the universe and that life’s little troubles aren’t such a big deal – that we should just relax about them and enjoy what we have while we have it. Someday we won’t.
I think I was there about 5 minutes, parked and in my own little world making sure everything was copacetic. My feet were still cold, but I was warm and safe inside the car. I thought I still need to get a picture of this business, so I look up. There it was directly in front of my parked car clear as day. And I thought, ha! There’s my picture.