L-R Emmy (lying down), Drama, Kendra, Savannah & Teya

16 July 2013

Very Long & Unfathomably Whingey Irrational Rant Of The Day

I just spent an hour in my local supermarket being photoblocked

I had 80 pictures on a USB key of our "Staff barbecue and sports day" from a couple of weekends ago. It took me about 3hrs at home on the computer to wean them down from the original 240 photos taken on the day, and then to crop, size and do some tasteful editing.  I'm going to be creating a photo montage on the main wall at work to try and give everyone a few smiles over the next month.  How difficult could it be to just pop into my local Tesco [a big sell everything Walmarty type of supermarket], stick the key in the machine and hit the "order all" button?

Well I arrived to find 6 people already waiting in the queue in front of me, but for all the difference it would have made it could have been 25.  The wall of animosity directed at the 2 photo order machines in use in front of them was palpable.  It was also audible.  My first clue to this was when one of the ladies, using some very unladylike [albeit very accurate] language announced that this was a complete joke - with sexual connotations. Bear in mind she said this out loud, about the two people standing about a foot and a half in front of her. The man on the left wasn't ordering prints of his holiday snaps, oh no. He was creating a photo book, probably a present. But more than that, he was creating a work of art. And it wasn't right, it... just... wasn't... right!  He was on page 21 ["he's been at this for 40 minutes" - with sexual connotations - announced one of the other ladies], and every page had 2, or 3, or 4 photos, in different orders, in different shapes, he could move them, flip them, rotate them, no, still not right, rotate them back.  Some he wanted to expand, some he wanted to crop. And every time he put one in, he'd look back at the 500 photos on his card to see if he'd picked the right one. He hadn't.  Every single - with sexual connotations - time he'd picked the wrong one and had to change it back. And then he'd put one back in again. But it... still... wasn't... right. 

At one point he put in a picture of a sheep on a mountainside, and I looked at one of my fellow volcanic grumblers, all of us about to go pyroclastic on his backside, as if to say "hasn't he already used that one earlier?".  Bear in mind, we're standing in the middle of a busy shopping aisle, being rammed by trolleys and prams and shopping bags.  There is nothing else to do but stare at this man's photos.  One of the ladies looked at her friend.  "He used that one earlier didn't he?"  The man heard her.  He checked back to page six.  He had!  He HAD used the picture of a sheep on a mountainside before.  How could he have missed it when he flicked from page 6 back to page 19, and compared it to page 8, then swapped for the photo on page 14, before rotating then unrotating the 4 photos on page 15?  What sort of a dumb idiot was he?  He then proceeded to delete 6 pages of photos, all the way back from page 22 to page 16! We stared.  We just stared, immobile with rage.  He shook his head, stiffened his shoulders to provide himself the courage that all artists need when creating a masterpiece, and put 4 photos onto his new page 17.  Rotated them, rotated them again, then changed them all.

The woman to his right on the other machine glanced nervously back, obviously knowing she'd be next in the firing line when someone finally blew.  She had a card from her camera in the machine, and had spent the past half hour choosing from every fourth or fifth family and friend beach photo. I knew this because it was clear she'd set the burst function on her camera - every 3 or 4 photos were identical.  All posed portraits, of the same 10 people, beach, sea, sky, shot repeatedly over milliseconds, all 500 of them.  She still couldn't choose between them though. She glanced back again, sorrowfully, apologetically, before adding with perfect comedic timing "and I've still got 2 more cards to go sorry".  She wasn't sure if she'd driven  the woman directly behind her mad enough, so she pulled the 2 cards out of her pocket and showed them to her, just to make sure.

I gave up. I had to shop for lunch then get back to work, you know, sick people and all that. 20 minutes later, an hour after I entered the store, I exited the checkouts, food in hand, and walked past the photo aisle.  No one had moved.  Not the photoblockers, not the queue.  Especially not the man on the left machine.  Stiff backed, sweat on his brow, immune to the fury of the intemperate critics behind him, he continued on in his quest for artistic perfection.  He glanced at the Page 23 he'd just created, he stopped and stared, and paused, and waited, because he knew that he had finally created something worthy of the image in his head...

And then he deleted it.


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