Developing stories

On Monday, I returned from 6 days in Boston area. Unfortunately, my camera battery only lasted one of them. When I checked my bag for the charger, it wasn’t there. The Radio Shack on Winter Street didn’t seem to have one either.

This left with three choices: 1) don’t take pictures, 2) use my camera for all pictures (which I did its battery died too, but THAT charger I had brought with me). I had my phone on me, I still wanted to take photos so I broke down and 3) bought a pair of overpriced disposable cameras.

I knew this was asking for trouble when I bought them, but I was bound and determined to document this trip. Not only did the people at the register sneer at me, but it is nearly impossible to look even semi-professional with a cheap plastic camera covered with an ugly store brand label. It’s also hard to know of a shot I got before picking them up at the store.

IF you can find a store that still offers film processing. I spent most of yesterday afternoon stopping by various stores trying to find someplace that could process my cameras (it was a two-pack). My first stop was the Rite Aid on MLK, after searching the store fruitlessly for a photo dept, I finally found someone who directed me to their “Digital Processing Machine” at the front of the store.

“I don’t need digital processing,” I told her. The young woman looks at me like I’m speaking gibberish. “I have a pair of disposable cameras-“

She cuts me off and says “Oh, yeah, you want to BUY a disposable camera? They’re up by the registers.”

So, if I want to develop the pictures I’ve already taken, I have to buy a new camera. This new camera will automatically make the prints from the previous cameras develop just by their sheer presence.

“No,” I said reminding myself that she has likely used a ‘dinosaur camera’ before. “I said I already have a disposable camera. I’m trying to get the photos in it developed.”

She looks at me like I’m certifiably insane. “We process DIGITAL images here, if you want to process ‘film’ you’ll have to wait a week for us to send it off for processing. Otherwise, you can try going someplace else. Like…um…the CVS on Light Street.”

I head over to the CVS, but Light Street is completely ripped up due to last week’s water main break. Fortunately, the only accessible crosswalk in the area was directly in front of said CVS.

I get inside, and once again I’m informed that they also only did digital prints, but if I was willing to wait “3-5 days” they would be more than happy to send my film off for processing. Otherwise…

I made my way to the Walgreens on Fayette Street, and eventually found a disheveled looking photo lab near the back of their badly-in-need-of-renovation store. But there was no-one back there; I wait around for several minutes before finally asking up front.

The cashier points to a man hanging out behind her and says he’ll show me where it is.

“Oh, okay,” he said reluctantly. “I guess I could. Follow me.”

“Wait,” I said after we get to the photo lab. “Before I waste any more of my time, does this store offer FILM processing?”

If he answered ‘no,’ I was just throwing them out.

“Um, sure,” he said.

He takes the two cameras off my hand and asks me a set of basic questions for the receipt.

I ask him when I could pick them up.

“Eh, whenever,” he shrugged. “Maybe sometime tomorrow.”

“’Sometime tomorrow?’”

“We’ll do in the morning, come back around…1….30 in the afternoon. It should be ready by then, just present this receipt to the guy at counter after the time printed on there and you’ll be good to go.”

Somehow, I didn’t believe him – especially since the time on the receipt was “July 26, 2012 at 5:20pm.” One hour processing in 24-hours, but I can pick it up after twenty?

I returned at 2:47pm on the Thursday afternoon. I made my way back to the photo lab, and presented my ticket (not the same guy as yesterday). He searched the finished bins for my envelope just to come up empty. He goes around back and finds two bulky envelopes which he lifts up so I could see them over the partition.

“Yep,” he said somewhat apologetically. “They’re not even started yet, it says you weren’t supposed to pick them up until 5:20pm. Fortunately, there is no-one else here so I can probably start them now.”

“…And that will take how long?”

“Oh…five minutes per roll.”

I wait, and he goes about taking the cameras apart, loading the film into the machine and then starting on the 2nd camera. Just over ten minutes later, he handed me two envelopes of freshly printed photos and a bill for just over $24.

The sign behind him clearly states: “Film processing: One roll: $10.99 / Two rolls: $13.99”

“That’s ‘Double Prints,’” he said. “Film processing is $10.99 per roll plus tax and you gave me TWO rolls so that’s 21.98 + state tax….”

I got the distinct feeling I wasn’t going to win this one – especially when he re-read the price from the register verbatim and then put his hand to take the money. He then smiles and tells me to have a nice day.

After all, I had my photos. I ultimately had to throw out 1/3 of them, but at least I got my prints and isn’t that all that matters here?

On second thought, I should have just thrown the damn cameras out when I had the chance.

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, ramblings, retail | Leave a comment

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