She sells electricity

Sometime this year or maybe last Christmas I got a flash for my camera. I’m not one to use much flash in photography, but sometimes objects need a little fill light. It is quite flattering for people photos.

This flash unit I got, a Canon 580EX is huge and looks ridiculous on my camera (no built in flash). Not that a flash really belongs on a camera (that’s why my good camera has no built in flash), it doesn’t unless you’re just taking family snaps around the house. I find it way too powerful and haven’t learned all the controls so it is like this massive amount of light that overexposes the hell out of my subjects.

I need to get a clamp for it to go on my umbrella stand, a simple $10 clamp that I can’t find in any of the stores when I think about it. I should just get a damn roll of duct tape and attach it to something so I can at least play around with the thing. Or get Blane to jerry rig something, he’s good with that sort of thing.

Or go online and order the thing. I just need to figure out which is the right clamp.

Speaking of lighting, years ago, I got an umbrella from a street vendor in Portugal for $5. It’s this huge thing and is made for rain, but oddly enough, it has a reflective surface on the inside. So I’ve kept it all these years and managed to never lend it out because, hey, people never bring back umbrellas no matter how much you threaten them. I haven’t tested it to see how well it reflects light for photographs but I know it’s there.

Last spring while on a walk in my neighborhood, the tornado sirens went off and dark clouds rushed in in a matter of minutes. I quickened my pace and about a block from the house I met a stranger, a frantic door to door salesgirl. She was panicked, her manager had dropped her off to sell electricity subscriptions and she didn’t know what to do.

I told her to come with me, that she could take shelter in my house. She was young, about 20ish, and this was her very first day on the job. We ran to my house and as soon as we got inside it began to pour down rain and the electricity shut off. I showed her the closet under the stairs and told her that’s where we’d go if we heard the sound of a freight train.

I have a storm radio that goes off automatically and alerts me of when to expect a tornado, so this thing is blaring that the tornado will touch down in ten minutes. Wind and rain pelt the roof, flashes of lightning and crazy booms of thunder shake the fixtures in house. In the middle of all that, the girl’s manager calls on her mobile. Wants to know where she is. I offer him a place to stay too, but he refuses and insists on picking her up.

He finds my house and calls her to come out. Right now. In that storm.

The girl did not know what to do. I told her she was safer in a house than in a car. Through tears she told me she was afraid to lose her job. Her phone kept ringing and ringing.

She decided to leave, so I offered her my special umbrella from Portugal.

The tornado touched down a mile or so from my house and I don’t know if that girl and her manager happened to see it or not, but I do know she survived the thing and kept her job. About a month later, Blane answered the door and it was this same girl, returning the umbrella and asking if we wanted to buy electricity.


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