November 24, 2009

Defense Mechanism

In my last blog entry, I hinted at using my camera as a social crutch, citing the ease of interacting with strangers when we're separated by a viewfinder. I also referred to two incidents where I made a fool of myself; an account of one of them follows.

A few Saturdays ago, I headed to a downtown Lululemon location in order to meet a blogger who'd be making an appearance there. I arrived too early, but fortunately, she got there before I did; we introduced ourselves and I waited for her to begin. Unfortunately, while waiting, I became very conscious of the fact that I was in a store doing nothing and thought I looked weird while doing so. When this happens, I feel as if I should crawl back into my shell instead of trying to come out of it.

Perhaps disappearing would have been a good idea.

In preparation for the blogger's gig, she and the store manager (or someone high on the store's authority chain) were moving a table. The manager said, "You're making this too easy"; I responded by snarkily mumbling that she could move the table herself. I had no idea that this manager was still within earshot of me; when I turned around and saw her near me, I could have died at that moment. She greeted me, but it wasn't exactly a friendly "hello"...more like an icy "hi."

I should have stopped my antics at that moment, but I wasn't done yet. A few minutes later, when a store associate asked me what I was doing, I replied, "I'm taking shots; you're next!" I wasn't intent on saying something so blatantly embarrassing, but I didn't realize the gravity of my response until after I said it. Had the associate taken my reply as a threat, I could have been writing a few blog entries from a police station.

To make a long story short, the blogger started by preparing a smoothie; I tasted it, then proceeded to leave the store before I could dig myself a deeper hole. When I returned home from my remaining photo shoots, I apologized to the blogger via Twitter for any embarrassment I caused her. She hasn't responded yet, so I can only conclude that I did a really good job of making her feel uncomfortable in my presence. This was definitely not my intention.

I don't always have this much of a problem interacting with strangers, even when I have no camera to shield me from them. However, when I mess up, I really mess up. As much as I enjoy photography for its own sake, it also works very well as a defense mechanism.

At this moment, I'm not willing to let my guard down if I don't have to.

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