Jeff O’Brien from Samy’s Camera in Pasadena, California, rang me and said that he didn’t think I’d be able to get the Canon EOS-1 Ds Mark II I had ordered. I was number 172 on the list and the cameras were only dribbling in, one by one.
Depressed, I headed to the store anyway to replace a lens that had been destroyed by Sri Lankan fungus. As I stood at the crowded counter, I looked to my right and a short, bearded man wearing a baseball cap, hooded sweatshirt and jeans, gazed at his new Canon 17.7 mega pixel camera body. Not having ever touched the black box, I asked him if I could just feel the weight. ‘Of course,’ he said, handing it to me. I wanted to run with it as soon as I had my fingers wrapped around it. But I stood still, cherishing the study feel of it.
I turned to Jeff and whispered, ‘I’d offer him $500 if he’d let me have it.’
Jeff laughed as I handed it back. Reluctantly.
‘You live in Sri Lanka?’ the man asked as he set the camera body on the counter. He had apparently overhead my complaints to Jeff at being so far down the list and being hesitant to leave for Sri Lanka without the camera.
‘Yes,’ I said. I told him how I was distraught at not hearing from some friends in the tsunami area, hearing the tragedy of others, that most people I knew were homeless, that some had perished and that I desperately want to be ‘home’ in Sri Lanka.
‘You’re just waiting on the camera?’
I notice his dark brown eyes, too small for his round face; there was something gentle about them.
‘Yes,’ I said, ‘but I’ve not sat around. I’ve been raising money.’
We chatted for a few more minutes and then his salesman came up to the counter with the credit slip for him to sign. He looked at me. ‘How long have you been waiting for this camera?’
‘Three weeks,’ Jeff said.
‘And getting the camera is what’s keep you from returning to Sri Lanka?’
I nodded my head as he cocked his. I could see the wheels turning and my heart rate skyrocketed. I took a deep breath and held it. The man paused for a moment and then he held the camera out to me. ‘Here,’ he said. ‘You take the camera. I’m just a hobbyist; you need to go to Sri Lanka.
When he said those words, I stood frozen. Speechless.
The man smiled. I noticed his kind face underneath that black, bushy beard. Time stopped for a moment as I comprehended what he had just done. He had given away the long-coveted, much-awaited camera spot and put himself at the back of the line, to number 172.
His name is Frank Munoz and he asked only that I send him some photos once in a while. Rest assured, he will get photos for life.
Postscript: It took Frank four months to get back to the front of the line and get his Canon EOS-1 Ds Mark II. He wrote to me, saying he was happy to have waited.
I’ve had this camera for 10 years
now and at times I consider selling it,
but it has been such a faithful
workhorse that I am hesitant to let it go.
It took me forever to learn how to use it!
It's heavy as hell compared to the new plastic
cameras, and it's given me a bum shoulder
(it's so heavy with the 200mm lens on it!)
but I still love it. It's fast as all get-out!
Check out my photography website at: http://www.shadetreeSL.com
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