Thursday, July 06, 2006

I Must Have Great Karma!

On Monday, July 3rd, I lost my camera. My $3000+ Nikon camera. Not only the camera, but the $900 zoom lens, the $200 brand new Nikon flash, and the $200+ Pelican hard case they were all in.

We'd just left the field in Metamora, MI where the weekend trials had been held. This is out in the (wealthy) boondocks of Northern Oakland County (or Southern Lapeer County, I'm not sure). It's "hunt country"... lots of horses, hounds, and large homes on huge chunks of land. The roads are dirt, narrow, hilly, and heavily wooded.

As usual, when we can't take the motor home to the site, we commute in the Escape. We'd loaded the EZ Up, and tables, and generator, and all the mundane pieces and parts that make up our "store" into the Escape, and as we've done dozens of times before, put a towel on the roof in the secure square created by the Yakima bike rack, and tossed the camera case up there, along with the lunch cooler. We've never secured these items, because they're very heavy- especially the camera case. The rear of the Escape was packed to the ceiling, so I had no center rear view in the mirror. We waved at the stragglers, and drove out onto Rock Valley Road.

After turning north on Barber Road, the longest, hilliest, most washboardedest stretch of the commute, we hit a big hole on the right side of the road- a hole I'd missed completely the first two days of the event. Margaret shouted her usual epithet, which I won't repeat here because her kids read this. I never checked the outside mirrors.

Forty minutes later, we pulled into the Water Tower Travel Trailer Park in Lapeer, got the dogs out of the motor home to walk, (they'd stayed back in air conditioned comfort on this day), when I glanced at the Escape- particularly the roof, and asked the stupidest question of the day: "Where's the camera?!!?"

Handing the dogs to Margaret, and jumping back in the car, I peeled out of the campground at just over the posted 5mph speed limit, and with Margaret's admonishment to "don't speed", made my way back to Metamora in the afternoon traffic... why were so many people still working on this day before a holiday?

By the time I got back to the stretch in the road where I was certain I'd lost the case, it had been over an hour. We'd seen two oncoming vehicles when we were leaving, either one of which would have seen the case if they'd travelled that far.. it would have rested right in the middle of the road, because there were hills going up on both sides of the road... the dropoffs coming a little further down the hill. What I found there, was what I expected: nothing. I checked the dropoff areas as best I could.. there was no evidence of any heavy object sliding down there. There was only poison ivy. Lots of it.

I drove back to the field to see if, on the off chance, anyone had dropped it off there. It was a way-off chance. I absorbed as much sympathy from the folks there that I could stand, and decided to drive back to Metamora and report my loss to the police. When I arrived there were a fat kid and his mother talking to a uniformed cop in the lobby... I was hoping that maybe they'd found this black case on the backroads and had just come to inquire if there was a reward. No such luck.. they were reporting an alledged theft of something the kid considered valuable by someone he had considered a friend. I think he decided to not file a complaint.

Another, not so observant, officer asked me if I was with these people. Duh. I said no , and asked if anyone had by chance turned in a black camera case with a few thousand dollars worth of gear in it. Not yet, he said. He said that most of the people who would be travelling those roads were rich and honest (I'm thinking that's oxymoronic!), and would turn it in if they found it. I left my name and number, and got back in the Escape to make the depressing, empty-handed, return to Lapeer. I called Margaret and told her to check the RV insurance to see if this kind of loss was covered. I wasn't optimistic.

Margaret was more optimistic than I. She kept saying that someone had found it, and would turn it in. I was thinking, "I'm going to get my Nikon D200 earlier than I expected". Most people are honest, but what would you do if you were driving down the road, found a case full of digital camera gear, but no identification? I know I'd be conflicted at the very least.

Anyway, a couple hours passed. The phone didn't ring. I started slamming doors and drawers, and feeling more and more depressed. I was burning pork and vegetables on the grill when Margaret came out the RV door and said, "Phone call". I got excited and asked, "Police?". She said no. I took the phone.

"Is this Dan?"
"Dan, my name is Cindy Schweiderson" (I have no idea if that's the correct spelling, I didn't ask), "and I live in Dryden, MI. Are you missing something? Something like a..."
"Like a large, black camera case loaded with expensive equipment?" I completed her question. "Yes, I am."

The story becomes rather unbelievable at this point:
"My husband's a conservation officer, and was returning home with his patrol boat on the trailer. He found it on the side of the road. When he brought it in and we saw what was inside, I said 'I'll bet this belongs to that man that was taking pictures at the field trial' ".

I asked her if she found me by calling the police. No.. she had been at the trial on Saturday, visiting with a friend who has Italian Greyhounds, so I asked if she'd been in our "store" and grabbed one of my business cards? No, again. So how did she find my phone number? She did what any thinking person would do: She went online to a dog list and made an inquiry. It's good to be famous.. or notorious, I'm not sure which.

Even more unbelievable is the fact that Mr. Conservation Officer didn't find it anywhere near where I thought I'd lost it. He spotted in in the weeds, on the side of Dryden Rd; a much heavier travelled, paved road, running from M-24 to the village of Dryden, and used by a lot more people who aren't "rich and honest". Obviously, the right guy came along, at the right time. We figured out it hadn't been on the ground more than 5 minutes!

I offered to come pick it up, and she said she was going to be in Lapeer the next day for the 4th of July parade, knew where the campground was, and she would bring it. Which she did the very next day. Even refused a reward, or a dinner at the White Horse- so I gave her one of my matted nature pictures.

And that's how I got my camera back. If that ain't great Karma, I don't know what is.


  1. Talking about karma (and talking bad about honest people) is going to lose you that good karma... :)

    Glad you got your livelihood back, although I'd be like you and looking forward to the new outfit!

  2. Cindy1:42 PM


    All that *and* your dog beat my dog on the field on Sunday.

    You've been living well. Either that, or else that pound of flesh they took out of your back a while ago paid for this.

  3. Anonymous2:32 PM're blessed, already.