No Digital Cameras!

Hey! Is that a digital camera? That’s really small. You, you, you can’t take that inside!

The other day, I got free lawn tickets from work to a k.d. lang and Sting concert that was sponsored by KFOG 104.5/97.7. The first set of people that I asked to go were all busy on Saturday, but the third person that I asked, Randy, was able to go. Yeah, I wasn’t going to go alone to the concert! I had never been to the Shoreline Amphitheatre before, even though I had often ridden my bike around the amphitheatre and golf course. I thought to myself that this was going to be an especially fun night, a new place to visit and some great music to listen two from two artists I particularly enjoyed.

Armed with Randy’s sleeping bag (so we didn’t have to sit on the grass and get our butts dirty) and my favorite knapsack, which carried my Eagle Creek pack (otherwise known as my “man purse”), which in turn held my standard complement of gizmos: my RIM Blackberry 957, Canon PowerShot S100, and Super Tinker Swiss Army Knife, we were off to see Sting and k.d. lang! We parked across the street at the old Palm headquarters on Shoreline and proceeded to walk over to the amphitheatre around 7:00 pm.

Along the way, we passed a sign that read no professional cameras were allowed on the premises. Randy asked me, “Do you want to hide it in the sleeping bag, Adam?” to which I replied, “Don’t worry, Randy, this is most definitely not a professional camera! We’ll be fine.” A little further along the road, there was a guy who reiterated to the line what the sign already said, “No guns, professional cameras…. Thank you very much!”

At the time, I had the S100 in the pocket of my favorite capri pants. For some reason or another, I took the camera out of my right pocket and proceeded to put it in my bag. The staff guy saw this and announced to everyone within earshot:

Hey! Is that a digital camera? That’s really small. You, you, you can’t take that inside!

“Okay, I can deal with this guy. I’ll use the Force on them just like Obi-Wan did in Star Wars,” I thought to myself. I calmly explained to the man that the S100 was in no way a professional camera. I mean, didn’t he know the limits of digital cameras? I was going to be stuck in the lawn seats for crying out loud! Right, the S100, with its enormous 5.4mm to 10.8mm lense was going to be able to zoom onto the stage and take gorgeous head shots of Sting and k.d. lang for the world to enjoy the next day on the Internet?!? I don’t think so. Though the guy obviously hasn’t read Steve Sander’s excellent review of the S100, he did defer me to the staff manning the entrance, telling me, “You, you’re uh, you’re going to have to talk to them.”

I told Randy, “See, this Force stuff works, now watch this!” The first staff kid that I met told me to talk to the staff woman behind him. She was firm, “No digital cameras.” “Come on, this isn’t a professional camera, what do you think I’m going to do with it?” I told the lady. “I’m sorry, but no digital cameras.” I asked her, “Why?”

My question was met with silence.

I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to leave it in your car.

I told the lady that she had my word that I wouldn’t take any pictures with it. Honor and a promise doesn’t get you far these days, as she was steadfast in her refusal. I turned around, dejected, and started walking back down the road. I didn’t want to walk all the way back to the car just to drop off the camera. Randy and I stopped at a bench around the bend, away from the prying eyes of the Shoreline staff. “I’ll show them,” I told Randy, as I took the camera out and started to hide it in my shoe (yes, the S100 is that small).

Why don’t you just put it in his sleeping bag?

There was a young lady sitting next to me who asked that question. I was stuck in a logical trap, the likes of which I haven’t seen since Philosophy 160A! I had brusquely told Randy that I didn’t want to put the camera in his sleeping bag initially, but I knew that they were right. I swallowed my pride and took the camera out of my shoe and placed it in Randy’s sleeping bag. “Thanks,” I told the lady as I got up to leave.

The Shoreline staff let me in with no problems. Randy was asked the question if his sleeping bag had anything in it, to which he innocently responded, “No.” Obviously no doesn’t mean no these days either, as the staff guy proceeded to squeeze around the sleeping bag. Luckily for us, the soft and fluffy innards did their job and the Shoreline staff guy didn’t feel the S100. He motioned Randy through. Once inside, you know what we saw? Cameras! Dozens of cameras slung around people’s necks!

We eventually arrived at our seats on the sloped lawn overlooking the stage. When we unfurled his sleeping bag on the ground, we looked in front of us and saw over 100 yards to the stage. I repeated to myself over and over, “How in the @^%#!^ world could they think a digital camera could take a quality picture from here?!?” Randy told me to mellow out and not worry; after all, we were in, you know? “Yeah, maybe you’re right,” I started to tell him when I saw this guy with an Olympus C3030-Z digital camera taking a picture of the crowd. I mean come one, that thing’s three times as big as my Digital Elph and he got in?!? I cursed at the injustice of it all as I looked around some more It seemed like everyone had a camera of some sort with them! My annoyance level subsided, thankfully, once the concert began, despite seeing the occasional flash of a camera. While Sting and k.d. lang put on a short concert (about 2 hours total), it was filled with a great set of songs, accompanied by lots of dancing!

The Shoreline staff were like mindless automatons. They followed their instructions to the tee, at least with me. You can’t educate an automaton the error of its way. What I realized I had to do doesn’t stomach well with me, the fact that an honest person couldn’t get through without deception. Yes, this was a trivial situation, but it’s representative of a larger, more problematic question: What other things do otherwise good people have to do to get what they want in life, relationships, or work?

We live in a messed up world. Sometimes nice guys do finish last.

Well, sometimes…

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