Summertime in Edinburgh means tourists. Lots of tourists. All clamoring for pictures with Greyfriar’s Bobby, Braveheart, and the bagpipers found on every corner. This is also the time of year when those of us who possess something of trust in our faces find cameras being shoved into our hands at an alarming rate. If a person possesses that look that says, Hey, I’m someone you can hand your camera to when all you want in life is a picture in front of a castle without having to fear I’ll run off and put it on Ebay, their lunch breaks and walks home from work between the months of June and September will be similar to mine.
One evening, I left work and headed home along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. “Excuse me, will you take our picture?” said the Sophia Loren accent, approaching me with her tan skin and long legs. Naturally, I hate her, but I smile and nod. “Please make sure you get the street in the picture,” she added and handed me her camera. Her group of gorgeous Italian friends smoothed their hair and assumed their photo pouts. The sun (of course) came out at this very moment and cast a glow on them and the cobbles, so I cut off the tops of their heads, handed back the camera, and triumphantly walked away.
I continued my walk towards Princes Street, and it wasn’t long before I was stopped by a group of those tourists of unknown origin – disheveled middle age women, carrying Romanes & Patterson bags, and sporting hair colors not found in nature and only the most basic English language skills. The group’s ringleader placed her girth directly in my path and wordlessly thrust her camera into my hand. With a jab of her finger she directed me to stand in front of the harassed looking bagpiper flanked by her and her entourage. I assumed I was to take a picture, and they weren’t, in fact, the bagpiper’s bodyguards who happened to be handing out free cameras. Once snapped, she snatched the camera out of my hand and, with a nod, indicated that my job was done.
As I walked on, I started to wonder what it was about me, or the countless others who can’t make it home without having cameras thrust into their hand by foreigners, that gives the impression we won’t steal them. Deep down there’s a part of me that thinks it would be really funny – if not lucrative – to just take off running with my unintentional loot. The shock factor alone would make up for all the times we’ve been bossed around by total strangers and asked to take multiple shots because the composition wasn’t quite right. But, we don’t.
Our faces betray our hidden calling. We will snap all the pictures asked of us and happily hand back the camera. We are the good people who save you from a slideshow of selfies and protect your ancient right to bore family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and church members with the seemingly endless images of Scotland’s tartaned attractions coming soon to computer screens, televisions, and sheet-covered walls near them.
Image Credit: Mike Baird