This post wins the prize for longest title in the existence of the blog.

As a journalism student I like to practice by submitting stories to CNN’s iReport. One of the current assignments is to send in some photos of rogue shopping carts found abandoned in recognition of February’s designation as National Return Your Shopping Cart Month. Seems silly really, but it is a real thing. The stolen and lost carts represent a loss of around $100 each and I can imagine that probably hurts a smaller store owner more than a giant corporation, but a loss is a loss.

So one morning after dropping my daughter off at preschool, I decided I would take my hour and a half of freedom and seek out a shopping cart. I drove around in circles through Denver, and spotted a red one behind a Dumpster in the snow. I thought to myself “Hey I have this big car, and maybe if I return this cart I’ll get to talk to somebody or get their picture.” A little human interest added couldn’t hurt, especially with an assignment like National Shopping Cart Month.

All I did was return the cart to the store. Once it was back with the rest of the carts, I took a quick snapshot of it. That’s it. One picture. It isn’t even really that good, just a boring old shopping cart returned to its rightful home.

This worker from the store comes running out. “Why are you taking pictures?,” she says with a stern look on her face. I tried to explain what I took the picture for. That I just found their cart abandoned in a parking lot and decided to return it to the store on a whim. It’s National Shopping cart month they said. It’ll be fun they said. Now here I am, sitting here watching this angry lady wagging her finger in my face and telling me that I HAVE to delete the images on my memory card. I told her straight away that no I absolutely will not delete anything from my memory card.

Demanding that I delete images from my memory card is intimidation. I will not be intimidated by the manager of the Family Dollar. I laughed in her face and told her that it wasn’t gonna happen. All this after a simple picture of a shopping cart. A shopping cart that I returned after finding it behind a trash can in a local apartment complex. The whole stupid thing started over my attempt to do a good deed.

I would of let myself get arrested over it. Over my dead body will you delete a picture from my camera or try to force me into doing so. I didn’t say that, but the phrase was repeating itself over and over in my head while I just smiled and waved as I was backing away. She got on the phone while giving me a disapproving glare. I imagined to myself what that phone call must have been like. Was she calling the cops? Her corporate office? The head of security?  I guess I’ll never know because I wasn’t sticking around to find out.

I suppose that’s a little extreme, especially over a picture of a shopping cart, but it’s the principal of the thing. If I let you intimidate me into deleting my photos what kind of precedent does that set ? Who are you to enforce a law that you do not even understand? And most importantly why couldn’t you just say thank you for returning the shopping cart?

I don’t feel as if I have done anything wrong in this instance. I can see if I was harassing someone or causing a disturbance, but I wasn’t. There was NOBODY in the store, the parking lot was empty, the $100 I saved them is probably more than the store made all day. They didn’t even have to lift a finger. It’s trivial. I get that. I was just having a bit of fun, trying to participate in a corny awareness month.

I will NEVER delete that shopping cart photo. In fact I’m going to have it framed and hang it in my office. I’ll never share it online because I can respect that a privately owned store can ask me not to take photos, but they do not have the right to force me to delete images from my camera.

What is the Family Dollar so worried about? Why are their employees demanding people who take pictures inside their store to delete images? Especially one as innocent as a memoir of a good deed gone bad.

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A Funny Thing Happened to Me While Hunting for Shopping Carts in Observance of National Return Your Shopping Cart to the Supermarket Month

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Denver Street Photography | Experiential Anecdotes

“Hey, what are you taking my picture for?”

The man shouted after me, I ignored him and continued to shoot. This was the next person to cross my field of view. I find it fascinating the differences in people’s behavior. this person loves the camera, he was flattered that I found him interesting enough to take a picture. The guy behind him was with four other people, when he shouted after me it didn’t even really startle me. It isn’t the first time someone has yelled at me for taking their picture. In the past few days I have been approached by several people with various inquiries:

“Hey man do you ride the bus?”
(Which is code word for, I have a fake bus pass that I will sell you for your real cash… I just barked NO and continued walking)

“Excuse me officer, could you help me out with some change to get a hamburger” (I told this person that I only have plastic on me, his rebuttal was a request to take him into the store and buy him some food)

“Hey man, quit takin’ pictures of people; that shit is illegal.”
(This person was very drunk and said it with a mean look and a stern voice, when I smiled and laughed at him the stern glare turned into a toothless smile and a wave)

“Excuse me sir, excuse me…could you roll your window down for a second”
(This one was an odd situation, I was shooting late at night, taking pictures of some graffiti and a group of three or four men with one woman pushing a shopping cart passed by. I was using flash and it was attracting attention, this woman snuck up on me as I was pulling away from the alley, something about it didn’t feel right so I drove off without talking to her)

I had one other strange experience shooting murals at night downtown, as I was shooting I noticed a dark figure approaching me really fast. I instantly got that sense that I was in a bad situation, I stopped what I was doing and got to my car as fast as I could. I had left the door unlocked because I am just paranoid and that night I was really thankful that I did. I don’t know what he wanted, but he scared me, and I’m just not taking any more chances than I already do. The man got right up next to the car and stared me down as I drove away, when I glanced back at him in the mirror he was heading back to where he came from. Maybe I dodged a bullet, or a knife, or a beat down, maybe not. Maybe he wanted to say a friendly hello and be my best buddy. I wasn’t sticking around to find out.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that I need some photography buddies to shoot with. People just seem to be really angry and aggressive these days.

I have also been screamed at and for some reason I seem to attract a lot of aggressive behavior. Maybe if I was a hot girl I would get better street photos. I feel like people are put off by my appearance. I can’t decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing. One thing for sure, is that it is MY thing, and that’s what makes it good to me. I suppose every one else can take it or leave it.

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Denver Street Photography | Experiential Anecdotes

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Denver Street Photography | Uncommon Encounter

as I leaned on the door of my car
photographing the used book store doorway
I saw her approaching out of the corner of my eye
she was with a man pushing a cart filled with their belongings
she became aggressive
quickening her pace
she started to scream
an incoherent diatribe
and began running towards me
in her best zombie sprint
her one tooth glistening in the noon time sun
spittle flying every which way
I swear she was frothing at the mouth
I took a step towards her
and prepared to defend myself
she got as close as she dared
then backed down
laughing that insane asylum type laugh
the smell of stale beer was lingering
a wasp landed right on my glasses
as she and her companion walked away
the man said
what’s so interesting about this building anyway?
why are you taking a picture?
I told him I look for beauty in the mundane
he shrugged his shoulders and rolled his eyes
as I was getting back in my vehicle
this brave, drunk, and crazy woman
got right between me and the door
she asked if they could get a ride to Greeley
I impolitely declined
and barked out NO!
While she was in my face I took her photograph
several times
invading her privacy
as she invaded mine
I showed her the images of her self
and I imagine her heart sank
and her anger softened
and I felt that she was ashamed
I smiled
and bid her good day

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Denver Street Photography | Uncommon Encounter

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