Some mistakes lack any humor. Like yesterday: a photographer walks into a restaurant and leaves their camera. See, not funny. Maybe if I had walked into a bar, there would be some value in being able to say “a photographer walks into a bar…” but there isn’t even that.

We were in east Texas and ate catfish and shrimp for lunch on our way up to Kilgore. Fried ocra was involved, too. Yet, no matter how good that catfish was, it doesn’t make up for the loss of the camera.

You may have noticed the lack of photos of late. That is because they are all on the camera. I have three weeks worth of photos on that camera, in a restaurant three hours away. Oh yes, did I mention that we drove another three hours to our next destination before realizing that the camera was missing? Three hours of rolling hills and pine trees. Sometimes there weren’t pine trees because lumber is still a major industry here. Yet, it was a three hour drive all the same. This, inconveniently, happened to be a little more than the amount of time the restaurant would remain open by the time we realized the camera was missing. At that point, it was an easy assumption that I had screwed up royally, which the woman at that afternoon’s restaurant more delicately confirmed. This left us at a hotel—which, fun fact, we reserved and paid for while at the restaurant, waiting for lunch—at the end of the day, sans camera, and with the even less funny challenge of trying to sleep while three weeks of irreplaceable photos were under the debatably watchful eye of an unknown entity. To say that sleeping was a challenge would be an understatement.

I set my alarm for 7 AM—as the restaurant didn’t reopen until 11am—only to find my fearless driver already wide awake, working at the computer. I must admit to an urge to call before we left on out six hour round trip, to make sure that the camera bag hadn’t mysteriously disappeared in the night. Even if the person I called yesterday confirmed its presence, that didn’t necessarily mean that some other party, aware of the camera, may not have secreted it away in the night. But the restaurant was closed, so we departed with fingers crossed.

Have I listed my notable worrying skills before? If not, let me explain: I don’t believe in ghosts yet, I still worry about them. I approached my college with the general anticipation that I would not be happy with my major and had to keep my grades up specifically so that I could change my major at any moment. To the point, I am so paranoid about the fundamental selfishness of man that, when I realized we had pulled into our lunch stop with my camera visibly in my lap, I had made the point of bringing it into the restaurant with me, lest some stranger see an expensive camera abandoned in a car and be tempted to break into the car. That last little gem, by the way, is what got us into this whole problem in the first place.

Thus, I spent three hours of worrying and my stoic driver navigated the highways with nary a critical quip. Truly, I think a trophy is in order for that. I was already spending enough time beating myself up about leaving the camera at the restaurant, I would probably break down in tears if anyone else were to join in.

One hundred miles.
Fifty miles.
Thirty miles.
Twenty miles.
Ten miles.
One mile.

We were there.

And I walked into the restaurant and the woman behind the counter gave me my camera.

Can we stop for a moment to recognize this as something special. I know there are plenty of studies to indicate that people are, fundamentally, good, when they have no reason to be otherwise. But there was valuable camera equipment to argue for “otherwise.” And yet, when I offered money to express my appreciation, she refused it. Finally, I told her to use the $100 I offered to pay for the meals of the next people who came in. If she wouldn’t take the money for herself, at least it would go towards fostering good will for the restaurant.

As we walked out, a woman and five children walked in. I smiled. They didn’t know that we had just bought them lunch.

For anyone wondering, the restaurant was Captain Ron’s Seafood in Kountze, Texas. Try the catfish.

Lexi lives in a truck camper down by the river.

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