“A Great Lesson In Trust, Patience and Humility” (Part 4 of 7)
And the problem is that you and I are the only ones who have been in this apartment…”
“Oh Rob, I can’t do something like that…”
He was worried but showed no signs of guilt in his face. I was beginning to feel like a heelf or accusing him. Shit! I’ve got the wrong guy…But keep talking, Wilbur; be tactful and persistent but don’t overreact!
“. . .I got my job and my family to think about; I can’t be doing anything like that, you can understand that can’t you?…”
“Well, all I can understand out of this is that my camera is missing; I don’t care if it was stolen, borrowed, or lost; I don’t care if you did it, or the Governor did it, or whoever did it. . . That camera is important to me. It is part of my work just like your brush machine is important to you…It is one of my tools…I need it back badly! I spend enough money on the rent for this place. I can’t afford to replace that camera! I also had some very important pictures of paintings that I sold to Japanese businessmen on their way back to a life of retirement in Kyoto, Japan. I’ll never see those paintings again! They’re like lost children – lost forever! This is very upsetting to me. I can’t work without my camera – I want my camera back badly!”
“Gee Rob, I don’t know what to tell you. . .”
I was beginning to believe in his innocence.
“…I just can’t go around doing things like that…”
“Well, ” I said, “I understand that and I hope that you are not that kind of a person…Look, here’s the deal: Did you see anybody hanging around outside?”
“No,” he answered shaking his head.
Last ditch effort, Wilbur…better go for it now!
“WeIl, as I said earlier…I don’t care what happened to that camera – I just want it back in this studio…and I’m going to offer you a reward if you can help me find it. I figure you are probably the best person to help me locate it. I’ll give you $200 if you can help me retrieve that camera in proper working order – no questions asked!”
“I’ll do what I can to help you…”
It didn’t look promising until…after a short pause in thought, Felipe offerred this:
“You know, Rob…I was in kind of a hurry getting to that other job…I grabbed all of my stuff up and it’s possible I might have picked up your camera by accident.”
Well, sure it’s so easy to haphazardly open the bottom drawer that it was in and pick it up by accident! My heart thumped with glee. There was light at the end of this tunnel!
“But you know, ” he said, “If I find your camera, I’m gonna. feel terrible…I’m gonna feel like a thief or something.”
“Oh no, no, no! Shit happens!” I assured him “…Hell, I pick up stuff by accident all the time!”
He had a pleasant, determined look on his face.
“You know, Rob…I feel so bad about you missing your camera…I have a job I was going to after this…But you know what…I’m going straight to my house and look in the garage where I dumped all of the stuff…maybe it’s in there.”
“Papo, I’d really appreciate it.”
“What kind of camera is it? An Instamatic or something?”
Right, can you imagine Kodak selling all of those trusty little pieces of shit for a thousand bucks a pop back in the 60’s and 70’s? That was a fishy-smelling comment to pretend like you have no idea what kind of camera it is!
“Uh no…it’s a 35mm Minolta 3xi and some lenses in a black bag.”
“I’ll call you tonight at your house if I find it.”
“I’m really worried about that camera…could you call me either way – even if you don’t find it?”
He left. I wasn’t sure, but I had a feeling I was going to get my camera back. I locked the studio up and headed down towards the bay and walked through the city gates, along the city walls behind La Fortaleza. The late afternoon light was beautiful. People were strolling along Los Paseos. I was upbeat and positive with a new bounce in my step. I had a strange sensation of being a totally new person. I was no longer fretting over my loss. I had accepted it and it was time to move on. I was willing to forgive and forget. Life was great. I felt alive! I even enjoyed the traffic on the way home!
my house, 9:30 p.m.:
The phone rang. I knew immediately who it was. Vicky and I were having a birthday dinner for her mother. There were nine of us here. I hushed everyone as I answered the phone…
“This is Phillip. I got your camera.”
“Oh, that’s great!”
“Yeah, it was in the back of my truck and it got rained on…it’s a little damp.”
It’s not wet at all I thought, but I played along just as well and threw in some more Ward Cleaver strategy.