Friday, October 04, 2013

Picture This

Oh, come on now.

Look, I know I’ll never be mistaken for Brad Pitt, but I can’t possibly be as ugly as this temporary office ID photo makes me out to be.

I left my ID badge at home the other day and was forced to go through the ritual of posing for a temporary badge like a purse-snatcher being booked at a police station.

This was the second time in six months that I've done this and I’m not sure if it’s a subconscious statement about my job, a sign of creeping dementia, or both.

Whatever the reason, I can assure you that it’s a swift pain in the caboose.

I think I handled things better this time around, or at least I was handling them better until I looked down at the ID photo and came face-to-face with an absolute freak of nature.

Are you kidding me? I looked like an extra from The Walking Dead, for God’s sake.

My head sits on my shoulders like a rotting pumpkin and for some reason I’m looking up to the ceiling as if the roof is about to come crashing down on me.

If I could make a mask out of this face I’d sell it at Halloween and retire to the Cayman Islands.

Parents could scare their kids into eating their veggies by showing them this photo and saying “finish your greens or you’ll look like this!”

The funny thing is that I had just recently found someone else’s ID photo on a utility box in the Fulton Street subway station.

I Was Here, But Now I'm Gone...

Willbaldo—I’ll keep his last name to myself—had apparently been working as something called a “default receptionist” at a bank in the World Financial Center. And, through no default of his own, he got stuck with a terrible photo.

He appears to be in his twenties. He’s standing in the lobby of an office building with his eyes closed as the camera captures him in mid-blink and he looks like he’s sleepwalking or waiting for the Rapture.

I have this fascination with discarded photographs. They’re frozen moments in a stranger’s life, a small sign that we really are individuals with unique stories even though most days we may feel like ants in a massive colony.

I wonder what Willbaldo’s story is.
Does he still work at the bank or is he pounding the pavement in search of another job?

Is he married with children or does he live alone in some barren apartment? Is he happy?

Wouldn’t it be something if I could just slap on Willbaldo’s ID sticker and immediately know everything about him?

Imagine if we could all switch identities so easily, instantly know everyone else’s joys, secrets, and fears. The ID photo could be a kind of spiritual flash drive that allows us to walk a mile in another man's soul.

We might finally stop killing each other.

Willbaldo probably didn’t want to wear that awful picture any longer than he had to and got tired of being somebody else’s property. Perhaps that’s why I left ID badge home.

My mom always scolded me whenever I picked up stuff from the street, but it didn’t seem right to leave Willbaldo’s picture just sitting there. So I slipped a New York Times newspaper bag over my hand like a CSI, scooped it up, and brought it home.

I’ll probably keep Willbaldo’s photo for a while and get used to seeing it around my desk. Then one day I’ll pick the thing up as if I’ve never seen it before and ask “what the hell am I doing with this?”

And Willbaldo’s cut-rate portrait will go into the trash like it was meant to all along. But until then I’m going to hold onto this fragment of his life and imagine what I might see if I could look at the world through his eyes.

6 comments:

Ron said...

"as the camera captures him in mid-blink and he looks like he’s sleepwalking or waiting for the Rapture."

Bwhahahahahhaha! Rob, that was HILARIOUS!

"The ID photo could be a kind of spiritual flash drive that allowed us to walk a mile in another man's soul."

OMG...what COOL idea and the making for a great Stephen King novel. He could entitle it: "Idenity Shifters."

"I have this fascination with discarded photographs. They’re frozen moments in a stranger’s life, a small sign that we really are individuals with unique stories even though most days we may feel like ants in a massive colony."

Me as well. There is something so utterly fascinating about discarded or old, vintage photographs. I'm always curious to know who they are and what their history is.

And speaking of ID photos, about 12 years ago I had my Florida drivers licenses photo taken and it was by far the WORST DL photo I had ever taken. I hated being stuck with that photo for SIX years. Then, when I moved back to PA, I had a new one taken. And what floored me is that PA permits you to take your renewal photo as many times as you wish, until you LIKE it.

But still. Drivers licenses always seem to make you look like a convicted MURDERER, don't they?

HA!

FAB post, buddy! Have a super Saturday!




Rob K said...

Hey, Ron! What's up??

"Idenity Shifters"!! I love it! We can get a TV show out of it as well.

Sorry about the Florida photo, though there's a bratty kid part of me that would love to see that picture.

I still have my NY driver's photo from something like 12 years ago when I was still holding on to my remaining hairs.

I'd love to cash it in, but it's just so easy to renew my license by mail that I decided I'll live with the yucky picture.

Thanks for stopping by, buddy, and have a great day!

Bijoux said...

ID photos are usually the worst. But every once in a while, my spouse or kids will take a horrible photo of me. I got to the point of telling my oldest to please not post or tag me in photos online without my prior approval!

Rob K said...

Hey, Bijoux!

We often don't like photos of ourselves, but the prior-approval rule sounds like a great idea. By the time a bad picture gets to Facebook, it's too late.

Take care!

V said...

okay that funny is photo, but you're not ugly at all and i can say i've met you in person. my photos always look mucked up. so bad i deny it's even me in the photo.

Rob K said...

Oh, thank you, Val. And having met you, I'd like to say that you are just lovely! If anyone takes a mucked up picture of you, it's the photographer's fault!