Although it started as an in-office joke with the hiding of a juice box between co-workers (actually between employee and supervisor) Maid Appleton’s travels took off very quickly. I worked in a high travel position, where at times I was on the road 90-95% of the time. My supervisor, although not as travel-bound, also had plenty of travel opportunities.
At times co-workers served as travel companions as we ended up in the same city or at the same site for work, but for the most part it was me and Maid Appleton.
Over the years people have asked if I have any regrets doing it.
First and foremost I have no idea why I’d regret placing a juice box in my carry-on and taking it with me. The people asked me as though the purpose of my travels was for the juice box and therefore it was a waste of money. But since I was traveling on the company dime, why would there ever be any regrets.
But at some point, in fact almost at the point of it being “too late” did I realize I had one regret: not having a digital camera.
I’ve never been an “early adopter” for most things since I think they are over-priced. Digital cameras was one of those things. A roommate I had in the late 1990s was into technology and he had a digital camera. It was one of the newer ones and although at the time it was probably sophisticated, it was still early enough that I recall common consensus being that film cameras were still the best. My roommate echoed these sentiments. As such, I stuck with my tried-and-true film camera. But something was happening.
In the mid to late 1990s digital cameras became common among consumers. By the mid-2000s digital cameras had largely replaced film cameras, and higher-end cell phones had an integrated digital camera. By the beginning of the 2010s almost all smartphones had an integrated digital camera. –Wikipedia
Unfortunately, as technology advanced my mindset was stuck on my roommate’s initial evaluation. After each trip I’d drop my film off at Walmart to be developed while I was preparing for my next trip. This happened from late 2000 to the end of 2003, when my traveling job came to an end.
From 2003 to 2007 I made additional trips and still had the film camera.
Then in 2007, due to equal parts tired of paying for film developing and tired of getting back blurry prints, I dropped $656.48 on a digital camera (which is still the camera I used for Maid Appleton). I probably spent that much in getting film developed (and that is probably not an underestimate!).
When the first photos came out on my camera, the reality of what happened or didn’t happen over the years hit me hard. It was disappointing and frustrating.
I’m sure anyone who has ever had a film camera can agree. You take a photo and since you can’t immediately see the result (unless you have a Polaroid) you decide to take another one “just to be safe”. And sometimes at the end of the roll you get an extra photo or your worried that it will ‘eat’ the last one. So you put in a new roll and the first photo is a fail-safe backup for the last roll. So a 24-exposure roll can theoretically be a 12-exposure roll. When you go to get it developed you still have to pay for all 24 exposures, even if they totally suck. Well, that’s what I did. I guess my options were to refuse to pay and be photo-less or pay and at least have something.
Digital cameras changed all that. The only limits were the memory cards.
I don’t feel like I’ve wasted any time on the Maid Appleton project. But I’ve wasted a lot by not having a digital camera.
I have no idea if I’ll ever make it back so some of the places I went during my high-travel days, but I could have had so many better photographs if I had only listened to people, done better research, and got out of my head the idea that my roommate that “film is still better than digital”. That was true for a time when digital first came out, but digital quickly surpassed film.
And I missed it.
For some of my earlier visits, maybe 2 or 3 photos were “good enough” to use on the site, whereas in recent years I took 1,000+ photos on one trip to the Dominican Republic. I have my pick of photos I want to use.
That is my only regret. Not getting a digital camera sooner.
But, my mistake can be your gain. If you see photos that are extremely blurry, consider taking a juice box to that location and taking a better photo. In some cases, there’s no way you can fail. In other cases, it might be a near-identical photo of what I have except that it shows the passage of time in the photo.