Saturday, December 01, 2007

"Pardon me while I have a strange interlude."

Mrs. Rittenhouse: Captain, this leaves me speechless.
Capt. Spaulding: Well, see that you remain that way.

That quotation in the title up above is from the classic Marx brothers comedy, "Animal Crackers." It's very appropriate considering the morning I've had.

As usual, Wade and I were solving the world's problems over coffee and bagels from our regular table at Panera. I used their free Wi-Fi service to check my email on this laptop. Wade pulled out his 'do-everything' phone to check his messages. That reminded me to turn on my own phone. I checked voice mail too.

In the middle of all this, a woman and her young daughter sat down at the next table.

Wade and I talked for a little longer, then decided to go by Lowes. He needed a few items and I needed to find a replacement light switch for the kid's bathroom. First, though, he wanted to stop at Kohls to get a gift for his girlfriend.

I wandered up the main aisle at Kohls while he got the gift. The woman from the coffee shop walked up behind me and said, "You frightened my daughter! You were taking photos of us!"

At first, I thought she was talking to another guy in the aisle, so I turned away. "You! You were taking pictures!" That's when I realized she was talking to me.

"I didn't take any pictures, mam." A denial was useless because she went right on, saying how distraught she and her daughter were. Wade walked up and offered to let her look through the images on his camera phone, but she left in a huff.

Now, I'm fairly thick-skinned when it comes to riding a bicycle on the street and meeting the odd moron or two, but this is the first time I've been accosted like this inside a store. The encounter and her obvious anger were entirely unexpected. I fought down the impulse to escalate with a heart-felt.....ah....string of creative, yet highly insulting profanities.

As Wade and I walked out of the store, I reviewed what I know about taking photos in public. As far as I know, we can have no expectation of privacy in a public place. People can take photographs for private use and we may object, but there's nothing illegal about the practice. However, if a recognizable image is used for advertising purposes, a model release is required. If a photo is used for an editorial purpose such as illustrating a news item, permissions or releases are not required.

It may be rude and more than a little creepy to take candid photos of unknowing subjects, but I don't do that. It's certainly rude and more than a little creepy to be shouted at inside a store early in the morning.

Merry f***in' Christmas.


Blogger Fritz said...

There's a certain photographic blog in Copenhagen that makes me think "creepy." That woman's behavior was indeed bizarre, though.

12:04 AM  
Blogger The donut guy said...

Turn the tables Ed, you shoulda called the police on her for harassment.

PS.....I love making a scene:-)

5:02 AM  
Blogger Ed W said...

That "certain Copenhagen blog" seems to revolve around a shoe fetish, Fritz. I liked it at first since it shows stylishly dressed people on bikes, but the unrelenting focus on footwear is a bit creepy.

And I hadn't thought of calling the cops. It just happened so quickly and was so unexpected. I didn't start to get angry until afterward. But since we're regular customers, there's a chance we'll bump into her again. In fact, Jordan has to work this morning, so I'll be taking him up in a few minutes.

I'm taking my camera along this time.

7:26 AM  

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