Stories - Non-Fiction

The Quest for a Camera

A True Story

Several years ago, I bought a 35mm camera from the retail store in which I worked. It was a simple "Single Lens Reflex" camera. This SLR camera had a built-in light meter, but everything else was manual. I also purchased a wide-angle lens as well as a zoom lens. I have taken several rolls of film with this camera and some incredible pictures as a result. I have been quite pleased with it, but we have entered the digital age, and it was time to upgrade. Thus began my quest for a new camera!

Digital cameras have been around for several years, but I have never been fond of point and shoot cameras. They just do not offer the same flexibility that my SLR does. Thus, my first goal was to get a digital SLR. However, these have been quite expensive in recent years. Recently, digital SLRs have dipped into my price range. Further, a model that would work with my current lenses has become affordable. Thus, I had accomplished the difficult part of this quest. I know what I want, I just need to go and get it. It sounded simple enough, but I did not anticipate what was in store for me.

With the make and model firmly established, I jumped aboard the information superhighway with my pal Google by my side. There were many retailers offering the desired camera, so desiring the best deal, I decided to go with the retailer that offered the lowest price. I placed my order with this internet retailer.

The retailer wanted a great deal of unnecessary personal information. Thus, instead of giving my current phone number, I gave them my old number. I had it disconnected a short time ago, but records show it for my name. There was little reason to give them my phone number since they had my e-mail address. If they needed anything, I expected them to e-mail me the questions. However, they did e-mail me that they had some questions about my order, and that I should call them.

I thought it was odd that an internet retailer would slow down an order and increasing their cost by forcing me to speak to a person. However, I placed the call, and I spoke to a person with an east coast accent.

"We's got a few questions fer ya," he began. "First I wants to thank ya for yer order, and I wants to make sure yous knows dat dis camera doesn't have no lenses."

"I am aware of that," I responded.

"Good," he continued. "Dis camera needs a memory card. Does ya wants to order one now?"

"No thanks," I answered.

"Okay, dat's fine," he went on. "It needs battries. Does ya wants ta order some battries ta go wit it?"

"I don't need any batteries thanks," I told him.

"Very good, very good," he said. "Now does ya wants dis camera in English or Malaysian?"

"English of course," I answered.

"English?" he queried. "Well dat'll cost ya $200 extra."

"What?" I inquired.

"Yah, de English version is $200 more," he told me.

"You can cancel my order," I stated.

I would have never guessed there were still businesses doing the old "bait and switch." I was shocked. I wondered if what they were doing was legal, but my quest was still unfulfilled. I had met my first challenge and I ended up empty handed. Never fear, Google had more retailers. I was going to have to pay a little more, but not $200 more.

The next retailer offered free shipping which made it just a few dollars more than the first retailer who charged $30 for shipping. I placed my order and once again did not offer them my current phone number. Why do these internet retailers ask for a phone number? I do not wish any telemarketer to call me, so why would I want these retailers an option to sell my information? Upon placing my order, the retailer once again emailed me informing me that they had some questions about my order. "Oh no here we go again!" I thought.

I called, but I got voice mail. It must be standard procedure for camera retailers to waste money requiring a phone call. I tried a few times to get a hold of a person that day, but I got nothing. The next day, I finally spoke to a person (with an east coast accent) and he informed me that because I had a disconnected phone number that they canceled my order.

From that experience, I came away with the idea that every camera retailer is on the east coast of the US, and that they all want to try to sell accessories to your camera order before they ship it. While it was discouraging, I ventured onward. There were plenty of camera retailers on the net. I just had not contacted the right one. I picked another one and placed my order. With shipping costs, it was in the same price range as the others. I placed my order with my old phone number, I got the e-mail informing me of some questions, and I was ready for anything.

I called them to find that this individual did not have an east coast accent. Once again, the retailer asked me about batteries, memory, and lenses. I continued to inform them that I did not need anything but the camera itself.

"Well then," he stated. "We'll have this packaged up and sent to you right away."

Was I actually going to get the camera I wanted? Was this the end of my quest? I was eagerly anticipating a package when I got an e-mail informing me that the camera was on backorder. That was fine; I did not need the camera immediately. I could wait a short while. I waited 2 weeks, and I had not heard anything about my camera. Thus, I sent an e-mail to this retailer's customer service address. A few hours later, I received an e-mail stating that I had canceled my order. "That's odd," I thought. "I didn't cancel my order; I just wanted to know my status."

Shortly afterwards, I received a second e-mail informing me that by my request the order was canceled. This e-mail was informing me of the status of my order. "Doesn't any internet retailer want to sell anything?" I thought to myself. "Is it so difficult to fill out an order without so much fuss? Why can I not get this camera?"

I was going to try one more time. I decided that if this last retailer did not work, I would give up my quest. I would return to my life without the camera. I would accept defeat. I placed my order in the usual way with the disconnected phone number. To my surprise, I did not get an e-mail. However, it was odd that I did not even get a confirming e-mail. After a few days, I still had not heard from this retailer. I began to get worried. A few more days passed, so I decide to check the status of my order from their web site. To my astonishment, it stated that my camera had already shipped. Was I actually going to get my order without having to speak to a sales representative? Would my quest finally end?

There it was my new camera. Because of a configuration error on their end, I did not get a confirmation e-mail. However, I did get my camera. What an arduous journey! It was a long and difficult road, but I did get my camera. It takes great pictures too. I had fulfilled my quest, and my life has returned to normal. I hope I never have to suffer through such poor customer service again, but I probably will. Buying a camera should not be that difficult, but there are forces out there that make it so. Will people never learn?

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By Douglas E. Gogerty

I must admit that I have had a happy life. While there has been fear of death for some of that time, it has just resided deep in my mind and never come to the forefront. Now, as I grow old, I feel reflective of my youth. I think about how much people have hated my kind and me. I do not know what we ever did to them, but so many speak of genocide.

I remember times when neighborhood kids liked us. I am sure we are part of fond childhood memories. In fact, they would take us home to their mothers. Those mothers would smile and greet us with open arms. They would offer us some water. It was nice. Looking back, I now realize that they were not happy to see us, and they wanted us dead. When those kids that happily offered us water grew up, they would also want to kill us. It seems they all wanted us dead.

I know now that it is partly because we just do not fit in. No matter what we do, we stick out. We definitely look different from all the others. In a crowd, we always seem to stand out as different.

However, we did not ask to be brought here. Like so many others, we were uprooted from our families and brought here against our will. We are not unique in that aspect. Europeans brought us here like so many others. So many of us face the same scorn and hatred. They cannot see that we are victims in this.

In all of our time here, we have tried to get along with everyone. Even when faced with such hatred, we try to put on our bright sunny faces. However, some will not be convinced. They want us dead, and not just some of us. They want all of us dead. These fanatics will not rest until every single one of my kind is removed from this Earth.

I will readily admit that in some places we do not fit in. However, we go where we can live just like everyone else. Truth be told, we are constantly persecuted in the suburbs. Thus, you will find us more readily in the urban neighborhoods. We gather in places where people are more tolerant. We find areas where people have other concerns than our wholesale destruction.

In the suburbs, they do not want us around and single us out. They have systematically excluded us. In some places, they have rules against our existence. Homeowners can be fined just for having us around. Yet, the authorities do nothing.

It is not just these exclusionary tactics that take place. Often we watch as they poison our fathers and mothers. These citizens do this without fear of reprisal. Everyone just turns a blind eye to the slaughter. They act as if we simply do not belong and deserve what happens to us.

Of course, part of the problem is there is nothing we can do with our appearance to blend in. We are obvious. However, why is it fine to persecute us like this? Why do authorities turn their backs when such atrocities take place? Why should it be so difficult to prosecute these murderers?

I think part of the problem is that we have been too silent. In our attempts not stir up trouble; we have rested silently. We have continued with our sunny disposition. This has gotten us nowhere.

We are systematically torn from our homes. We are ripped from the very places we have spent our entire lives. No one is sympathetic. They let it happen.

Now that I am old and losing what little white is left on top, I am speaking out. Before my children face the same persecution that I have seen with my own eyes, I am taking a stand. It is not just for me, but also for all those that are different.

Not everyone has to be the same. Whether we are white, black, yellow, green, purple, or any other color, we should all be treated fairly. Even if we stand out in the crowd, we want what everyone else wants. We want to live and have families.

I will admit that part of it is our fault. We have not put reading and writing as a priority. Thus, we have not communicated our complaints to the masses before. We were fighting one injustice at a time rather than banding together to gain public awareness of our plight.

That is where I come in. I am here to tell you to stop the killing. We want to get along, but unless the general public decides that we have a right to be here, things may start to turn ugly. We may start to fight back. Instead of just moving to where we are more accepted, we may try other tactics. We may not accept our fate and we may begin to rise up against our oppressors.

We have put up with many degrading words in our history. We have been slandered for far too long. We are no longer willing to accept the blatant slaughter and institutionalized discrimination. We have a right to our lives. We have a right to our homes. We have a right to our children.

I am here to ask you to put aside your prejudices. We all have a place on this earth. Others have labeled us, and we do not have any choice in the words they use. Some of them are just plain ugly. I want you to think when you hear these labels. Think about what they actually mean and what harm they can do.

After all, what is a weed? It is an unintended plant. One person's weed is another person's treasure. The prejudicial words are like that. It gives individuals a marker between us and them. It allows for the rationalization of action. Thus, when we are discriminated against, they just say we are one of them. When we are poisoned, we are inconsequential. They were just ridding themselves of one of them.

This has been the way it has been done since the dawn of human history. They easily divide groups into those that belong and those that do not. The ones that do not belong are eliminated. This is how the violence begins. This is why there have been wars throughout human history.

I am telling you now, that this has to stop. We all have a right to be here. There is not them. There is only us. The living have a right to life no matter what their label. I am asking everyone to stop the genocide. Stop the killing! We dandelions have a right to our place in your yards. Thank you!

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  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks for the kind words Kerry. I too am very read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks Christian! I too had a DOS computer. read more
  • Christian: A great story, i remember my first computer with DOS read more
  • Kerry Glasscock: Good story. I love that Dwayne. nice work! read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks Susanne. You are correct, the OS of computers has read more
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