10.17.18: a rebel alliance of quality content
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emptying my skeptic tank
on occasion, people can surprise you
by adam kraemer (@DryWryBred)

I like to think of myself as a skeptic. I know my British readers may be confused by this statement, but that's because they spell it "sceptic." Only part of the reason why they lost the empire.

(I'm fairly certain the rest of the reason was due primarily to a small band of teddy bears on Endor, but I might be getting a little confused myself.)

Anyway, I consider myself a skeptic, largely in contrast with being a cynic, which, while close, I generally am not. It's not that I don't see the dark side of things, as cynics are wont to do, but, rather, that I hope I'm wrong. I have more faith in people, I think, than a cynic generally would. (I also have faith that my friends will have that shield down before the rebel attack commences. If I have to listen to Admiral Akbar yell, "It's a trap" one more time....)

Sometimes my faith in human beings is tested, however. Actually, a lot of the time, my faith in human beings is tested. Hence my general skepticism with the state of the world. As a topical example, I assume many of you heard about that bill in Virginia that would have required (read: forced) women to have (read: undergone) a transvaginal ultrasound before getting an abortion. For those who don't know, early enough in the pregnancy this would have required a camera on a stick to be inserted inside them. Not at all traumatic for any woman who's just been raped.

And the bill was sponsored by a woman. Not only that, but a similarly restrictive bill currently moving through the Pennsylvania legislature (more restrictive, apparently) was also sponsored by a woman.

So, you can see how I might occasionally lose faith in my fellow man (and woman).

However, and I am very happy to say this, something happened earlier this week that somewhat restored my general sense of optimism and belief that not everyone is a self-interested douchebag (ironically, many of these people create a "not-so-fresh feeling"). Let me 'splain.

No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

In the middle of band rehearsal a week ago, I get a phone call from a number I don't recognize, so I let it go to voice mail. When I finally got around to checking the message, it turns out it was from a man with a French accent telling me his name is Rachid and he has my camera. He wants an address so he can send it back to me.

Now, normally someone returning a camera would be a pretty nice thing, but here's the kicker: he lives in Washington State and he found the camera last November on a vacation to New York. "Somewhere around 4th Street," he tells me when I call him back. This makes sense, since I'd lost it somewhere around there.

So why the photographic time lapse? (Get it?) The battery was dead when he found it and he hadn't gotten around to buying the requisite charging cable. Apparently, Samsung (the manufacturer) was of little help to him, so he eventually ordered an aftermarket one online (Oh, China, is there anything you can't do?). Upon charging it up and turning it on, he knew to call me.


Because the first photo I took, the day I bought the camera, was of a post-it from my desk that read: "If found, please call Adam" and included my phone number.

(Note: this is also the first photo on my cell phone. I forget where I got the idea, but I started implementing it the first time I lost a camera. Apparently, it works.)

So, at this point, Rachid had two choices: call the number in the photo or keep the camera. After all, he'd taken the time to buy the charger (for both wall and automobile outlets) as well as a spare battery. In addition, he didn't know this, but I'd done a ton of research to determine the best point-and-click that would fit in my pocket, take un-blurry photos in low light, and not break within a year (the Samsung NV30, btw). It also has digital and optical zoom, digital and optical anti-shake technology, and allows the user to adjust brightness, shutter speed, aperature, etc. And I'd installed a 16GB memory card. In short, it's a great camera for people who aren't married to the SLR concept.

But you all know (from reading above) that he didn't keep it. He called me. I gave him my office address. He sent me the info so I could PayPal him the cost of shipping plus the cost of the accessories he'd purchased. I threw in an extra $10 as a thank you, unsure whether that amount seemed insulting or not. His response: "You didn't have to give me any money! But I will consider it like you invited me for lunch or a nice Starbucks drink."

So I've got my camera back, Rachid's got his nice drink from Starbucks (apparently some sort of coffee chain in Washington State; I've never heard of them), and, to the point of this column, my optimism regarding people's occasional trend towards altruism a little bit bolstered. I mean, really, would I have ever known if Rachid had kept my camera?

So there you have it. That's my story. As I say in the subhead, on occasion, people can surprise you.

Also really glad there were no embarrassing photos on the memory card. 16GB can hold a lot of embarrassing photos.

Okay, there were a couple embarrassing photos of Steve. But the rest of you are safe. For now.

Have a good month.


A native of Elkins Park, PA, Adam Kraemer spends way too much of his time repeating "K-R-A-E..." He moved to New York City in 1998 and earned Master's in Journalism at NYU; don't let his writing fool you. He feels he is best known for saying the things no one is thinking, but afterwards wish they had been. He spends his free time wondering where all his free time goes and why he can never come up with a decent kicker for the ends of his articles.

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dr. jay gross
3.10.12 @ 10:26a

Your play on (with) words is excellent. You must have had a morning cup of 'Starbucks' super-blended, ultra-rich coffee. [...and too damn expensive].

You just didn't go far enough with 'skeptic' or 'cynic'....but then I don't believe anything I hear and certainly less than half of what I see. The world IS a dangerous place.

Take some really shocking pictures and then lose your camera. That should get someone's attention.

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