Wrong Photos

by Sandi Kubert from Prince George, BC
Jan 31, 15

This story took place a number of years ago, when people still took film from their cameras to a store to be processed.

My husband is a mathematician. And I’m telling you this, because I want to make it clear that he is an intelligent man, and because I want to demonstrate the kind of mind a mathematician can have.

We were at the grocery store. My husband offered to pick our photos up from the kiosk while I started the shopping. After a short time he appeared with a photo packet in his hand. I had once been given the wrong photos by mistake so I reached for the packet to check them. He held them up out of my reach and said, furtively, “I have something to tell you — these aren’t our photos.”

I pried them out of his hand and sure enough, they weren’t our photos. They were slightly out-of-focus photos of a family we did not know celebrating a birthday: there was the cake — there was the birthday child — there was the dog, wearing a party hat — and there were the gifts.

Obviously we would have to return the photos. My husband told me that would be a problem. These were the only photos they had, he said. They must have given ours to someone else.  

I explained that we would still have to take them back because the photos weren’t ours. 

“But they didn’t charge us for them!” he said.  

“I don’t care,” I answered, “they aren’t ours — we’ll have to take them back.”  

He looked at me totally dismayed, and then said, in what has become a family treasure — “they’re better than nothing”.

I explained to him that nothing would be infinitely better than photos of a family we didn’t know and I pried the photos from his reluctant hand, walked over to the kiosk, handed the pack to the server and told her they were not our photos. She told me they were the only ones they had.  

“Well,” I said. “They aren’t ours and we don’t want them.” 

“I won’t charge you for them,” she said. 

AND that’s when I realized - she must be a mathematician too