The secret shame of a computer geek

Greg had a belt promotion test for his tae kwon do class yesterday. At the end of the test, we smushed together for a photo. Greg handed his ancient digital camera to a member of the audience and asked her to snap a few shots. You’re wondering how a digital camera can be ancient. Well, Greg owns the oldest digital camera ever made. Cavemen spent years molding the plastic case with a crude stone hammer, and finally, in the year 2000 A.D., they revealed their masterpiece. Greg showed off that camera as if he had the Holy Grail. In fact, the very first time Greg and I hung out together, he showed off his fancy camera and took a photo of me.

As with all technology, the camera has not aged well. It eats battery power as though it has been on a long hunger strike — about 10 photos can be taken before it conks out. And it needs a solid 30 seconds between pictures in order to store the image. And that’s where the embarassing part comes in…

The girl snapped the first photo of our group.

“Take a second one just in case,” someone called out.

We smeared our plastic smiles back on our faces. The girl looked at the camera. We watched the girl. She looked at the camera again. Was it broken? It was still trying to store the previous photo. We started fidgeting. No doubt all of Greg’s fellow computer engineers were wondering what sort of faulty equipment this was. “It takes a while,” Greg called out sheepishly.

“OK, it’s ready,” the girl said, sounding relieved she hadn’t broken the ancient behemoth camera.

As Greg and I drove home, he lamented the sluggishness of the camera.

“That was embarassing,” Greg said.

“I know,” I said. “I knew you were going to be embarassed as soon as you pulled out that thing. How can you call yourself a computer engineer, using a camera like that?”

I’ve been telling Greg for months to buy a new camera. I think he finally, finally, might.