Fantastic Friday: Good, Old-Fashioned Service

I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from my Fantastic Friday posts. It’s not because each week has not been filled with something fantastic, but I had the opportunity to spend two weeks at the beach, followed by a hectic first week back at school–where I changed classrooms and took on a new course, so lots of moving and planning involved. I’ll come back and revisit some of the “Fantastic” in the coming weeks.

For today, I want to share my experience with my camera. I have a 6-year-old digital SLR camera that I recently, um, dropped in the sand.

(It wasn’t my fault; my six-month old had just mastered sitting and was about to face-plant in the sand. I had to choose to save her or the camera from the grit. Turns out I should have saved the camera–sand became one of her favorite foods over vacation!)


Panorama from vacation (Val Muller)

Anyway, after hearing about my camera woes, a photographer friend suggested that I needed to get my camera professionally cleaned.


Or else.

So I searched around and found the manufacturer’s services to be cumbersome and expensive. I searched for physical camera stores, but they were few and far between. Finally, I followed the recommendation of a local friend and brought the camera in to a shop, expecting to have to leave it for days or weeks and pay a small fortune for a cleaning. I knew it was probably easy to clean a camera, but I assumed anyone would be willing to take my money for easy work.

Not so.

When I stepped into the camera shop, I saw a customer engaged with one of the employees. I figured he must be special. Maybe he knew someone. So I walked up to the next available employee and explained that I needed to drop my camera off for cleaning. I explained the situation.

He took a memory card and took a picture with the camera, noting that the sensor was not dirty. He checked the flash. It worked. Then he examined the body and admitted there was some sand. But instead of charging me for a cleaning, he showed me a few simple tools (one I already owned and one cost $6), explaining how easy it was to clean the body myself.

Even still, he proceeded to clean most of the camera for me–free of charge.

And then, when finished, he moved the parts around and cleaned them again until we heard no evidence of gritty sand.

But what I really appreciated was the way he cared about the camera. It was so “old-school”–someone who truly cared about his trade. He cared more about the camera than about making a sale. I walked out with a clean camera, a $6-dollar tool, and the knowledge to clean the camera from now on–and signs to look for when my camera would need a more intense cleaning.

I hesitate to name the camera shop because I don’t want this to sound like an advertisement, but if you’re in the northern Virginia area and are in need of camera advice, I don’t think you could go wrong with Ace Photo. We live in a throw-away culture and one in which it’s difficult to find people who truly care about their field. It’s always a refreshing change to find someone who takes pride in keeping things working–and helping others to do so as well.

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