This is not actually a funny story, but you’re not me (which I guess is one thing to be happy about) and from a different point of view, it’s fucking hilarious. So let me assume that point of view for you. First, you need some background. This summer, I had one painless swim. After that, the sadistic author of my life script decided to screw a bit with me enjoying my favorite time of year and gave me a herniated disk. Well, I assume that’s what it is, because doctors of course can’t say. I knew they’d be useless, so I didn’t see a doctor until September, which means my cripple-ness was one level higher throughout the summer. Now, constant pain in my lower back and hip has two sideffects. The highly predictable elevated bitchyness and the less predictable childish playfullness. (I know, right?!) Thankfully, I’m a trained professional and have controlled myself enough to prevent my parents from killing me and my girlfriend from leaving me (or the other way around). In fact, I just did what I’ve been doing for the last oh let’s say twenty five years – bottle it all up. The Canadian style, I’m told. Keep all the anger and especially sorrow inside until it grows a cancer. If I could walk painlessly, I’d be going crazy. But most moves were painful, so I couldn’t break much. But I could screw things up collossally. Fortunately, for myself only. No biggie, right. And here’s the story.
By the start of September I was fed up with this stupid pain, so I went to the doctor and after tests she told me my right hip’s deteriorated (from walking the way I do, because of my left leg). I knew it wasn’t the cause, but she told me something I thought I’ll hear a bit later. Like, when I’m sixty. Keeping in mind that my time as a photojournalist is obviously running out when I haven’t even got a chance to achieve my goals, I adopted the pregnant bitch reaction: I swung from resignation to stubborn persistance in working even harder. Soon, it hurt so badly, I could hardly move. And I lost it. I took on an assignment of working on a story for the entire day on my feet. And hips. And lower back…
The funny thing is I could hardly move to pack all the gear. And on D day, I could hardly drag myself to the car. And to make matters worse, you can’t take pictures of fishing without the biggest lens, so I was packing EVERYTHING. I was even ready to wear most of it on my belt! Well, that would heal a herniated disk and work wonders on my shitty hip! But I wanted it! Call it stubbornes or selfdestructive behavior, but I sat my ass in that car although it took me a while to get there. And to make matters EVEN worse, my job was in Kobarid. For foreigners: that’s a town squeezed among the mountains above the Soča river. The damn country has no normal, straight road to that town. It’s just a bunch of sharp turns in both directions, like driving a rally. So I threw my diskus and that nerve around a bit (who needs phisio!), drove there and started looking for fishermen. The morning fishing was scheduled on the river Soča and it’s tributarties, so I kept glancing towards the river as I tried making the turns. No fisherman in sight. Nobody in the Idrijca river. I turn right, away from Soča, to Bača. Nobody there, either. On to Tolminka. Nobody. So I go scan Soča and it’s a big river. I stop at my favorite place and I’m just soooo happy there’s a fisherman under the bridge. I drop out of the car, get up, throw myself backwards at the side of the car to straighten myself (it’s a bit hard to take pictures if you’re offering your ass to the gods), I open the trunk, get all the shit together, the 300mm lens and all, strap everything around my waist for the best painful pleasure, and start looking for my memory cards. By then, I could kill somebody. Seriously, if I had to shoot a party and a drunk would barf in my face the famous words: “Take my picture”, I’d take my camera and beat him with it! Just don’t piss me off now. And that’s exactly what happened.
Oh, yeah. NEVER pack photo gear when in almost unbearable pain. Usually, you don’t think straight. I sure as hell wasn’t. In my mind I was gassing managers after I kidnapped them from their beachouses. And I left all my damn cards at home. So after I fought the urge to bash my head against the car, my crisis management kicked in. I started contemplating possible solutions. Ok, I say fuck it and go home. I say fuck it and go swimming. I say fuck it and throw myself into a gorge. I go to Kobarid and buy a memory card. No, it’s Sunday. OK, I go home. What if I borrow a camera? What else do I have that takes pictures? And here comes what I said I’ll never do.
Many photojournalists have tried it, but I think David Guttenfelder did it first, so I call it “pulling a Guttenfelder”. In my case, it’ll always be the last resort when it comes to print. But I always wanted to do it, and this was my chance. To shoot the entire Marble Trout Festival with a Hipstamatic app on my iPhone. Yes, in case you haven’t noticed, that’s what you’re looking at. Every cloud has a silver lining.
But that’s not the entire story. I start taking pictures and after an hour, my battery which was at 25% to start with was going dead. So the only time I could recharge it was when driving. By a car charger. Needless to say, I wasn’t driving much. Only when I was searching for the fishermen. But here comes the old sadistic script writer. I plug the charger in and realize it only works with an iphone 3G. Fucking great! So I was about to lose the only picture taking device on me. Stupid photographer. The other fairly annoying fact was that I consciously threw out my compact camera I had in my bag, thinking I won’t be needing it. I should get a medal! So now what?
Again, I contemplate: I say fuck it and go home. I say fuck it and go swimming (it was so bloody hot!). I say fuck it and drive my car off a cliff. I buy an iphone 4 charger. So I drove my wobbly herniated diskus to the petrol station in Kobarid, bought an overpiced charger and started charging the phone while driving back to the same spot. That’s basically the end of situation critical. My crisis management did a great job. The battery lasted to the end. And my back was thankful, my hip as well. No heavy gear strapped around my waist. But I felt like an idiot taking pictures of speeches and the concert with a phone. I’d kick myself!
But here’s the good part. Somewhere along the way my back and hip pain stopped. I guess being so utterly pissed off is a good remedy. Screw painkillers, just let someone piss you off! And the pain didn’t even return as powerful as it was before this story. Oh, I’m still a cripple, and my back and hip pain is still the icing on the cake, but it’s not that bad anymore. Meantime, I’m doing phisio with people that could be my grandparents and wiaiting for some other anti-pain treatment that I’ll start in a month’s time because in our country the queues are monstrous. The procedures that are a bit urgent always take so long. They’re hoping the patient would die or give up first. Not me, I’ll go there and I’ll TELL them I’m in no pain anymore. But hey, I got the prescription, so do it, throw away the money! I’m sure they’ll love to do it.
But you know what, there’s a very bright side to all the screw ups on that day. Compared to the famous Metalica story. The weather was beautiful, I could piss in the bushes, and my gear didn’t die (because I never used it).