Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Monday, February 11, 2008

Picture Perfect

"A person who trusts can never be betrayed; only mistaken."

"I could take your photograph for you, if you'd like."
Spouse froze. The lady seemed kind and taking one's own photograph is an awkward task, though just about manageable. Neither of us knew quite what to say: it would be delightful to have a photograph of the pair of us together, on our own camera.
We were on a trip to the most northern part of Northern California and it was June. We were at a scenic spot beside a mighty river and there was a lady generously offering to take our photograph. That was a very common occurrence along many of our drives. People were goodhearted and offered many a time to take a picture of a person travelling alone or in a couple.
There was just one small problem.
Spouse had waited all his life to own a digital camera and had, after years of agonising over the cost, the features and the necessity, bought one at long last just a week earlier. At that time one would not have found my fingerprints anywhere on the object. I was too afraid and Spouse was too nervous to entrust me with it. Suddenly, then, there was a stranger offering a service which would require him to pass the beloved and terribly expensive item into her hands for a few minutes.
We could hardly refuse her. I believe my Spouse closed his eyes in terror before reluctantly surrendering the thing to the beaming lady. She did not heed his trembling hands or the beads of sweat on his forehead. It was most friendly of her and we were grateful in our own way. One could not, though, tell a well-meaning stranger to be careful or educate her on the value of the
instrument. And one could not blame us either. I could feel, as we stood there, Spouse's urge to dart toward the woman and protect the apparatus like one would do a child. She took a most marvellous photograph of us which we still possess and which I came across the other day, prompting this memory from five years ago. In the picture Spouse and I are in front of a tumbling and raging river; the scenery is beautiful and the photograph might well have been taken by a professional instead of simply a good soul.
She handed the camera back to my Spouse's eager and waiting hands. She never suspected the trouble that had rushed like sickening waves inside both of us.
"Thank you," we both said, feeling guilty and unworthy to have greeted with dubious thoughts such an obviously decent person.
She said something to the effect of "you are most welcome," and then she turned, took two steps, tripped over a cumbersome stone, and fell to the ground.
People rushed to her aid within a second. She was dazed, humiliated and upset but there were no physical injuries. Which is a rather lucky thing because my Spouse and I stood rooted, giving for all the world the appearance of two rocks- two horrified, frozen rocks that have each had the same selfish thought and were feeling immediately shamefaced about it: "thank goodness that she gave us back the camera first."
We look at the photograph very rarely.

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