Tuesday, November 24, 2015

If a Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words...

Then I just ordered five-million of them.  I'm not kidding.  I have not cleared off my camera card in almost a year, and after receiving a 50% off online coupon from Walgreens I decided now was my moment.

But there was a time limit on the coupon, so I spent many hours yesterday uploading images and then going through and selecting sizes and quantities, etc.  Then there was a long stretch of trying to place my humongous order which the internet was understandably confused by.

I know I'm rare in actually wanting to print physical photos anymore.  Most people when they show you photos pull out a phone and start swiping at a little screen.  That's fine, and there are certainly advantages to it, but I still like having a physical photo in my hands.  I just do.  I like having an image that doesn't rely on batteries, that I can slip into the pages of a book I'm reading, or keep on my desk.  A printed photo has time-defying properties, and is portable in a way you can hold close and feel connected to.

So, I like printed photos, and I like to believe other people do too, which means I tend to send packets of photos particularly around the holidays.  I don't expect people to keep them all--just to flip through them for a little while, then pull out their favorites and let the rest go.  It makes me happy to share those memories captured on my little camera and remind people I'm thinking of them. 

But normally I'm better about clearing off my camera card at regular intervals.  This year has been nuts.  I have been more pressed for time than I can think of in recent memory and there has not been a chance to think about photos or update albums or any of that.  So when I looked at my camera card and saw the first photos on it were from Mona's last birthday party, and we just booked our plans for her next one in a couple of weeks, I realized I had to do something or it will be too big a hole to climb my way out of soon and I will never get a handle on photos again.

I uploaded all 3300 photos onto the Walgreens site.  (That took a long time.)  Then I selected which ones I actually wanted to print.  (That took longer.)  There were many photos I didn't bother to print that can wait on my computer just fine, but things that felt important I wanted to have copies of to share.

The thing is, all the pictures of my dad when he was alive now feel important.  And there are a lot of those.  Not many of them even that good, but I need to have them, and to share them with people who loved him, too.  It hurts to look at them, but it helps at the same time.

And Rivyn was born this year.  How can I not want to print up all the pictures of that adorable baby?  So there are a lot of Rivyn pictures.  And a lot of Rivyn with dad pictures, and these are among the only ones of those that will ever be.  Printing them out grounds those moments a little better in my mind somehow.  I printed out a bunch.

And my kids keep growing and changing and doing interesting things.  I love the pictures of Quinn performing on the grand piano in the recital hall, and the girls doing archery, and biking with Ellora by the lake.  We've been to New York and Ohio and slept in tents and put up a new trampoline and there was just a lot to document.  Photos are the only way I have to make everything that's rushing by slow down a little, even if it's an illusion.

Anyway, by the time I selected everything and hit "Submit Order" I had over 5000 items in my cart.  (And yes, it took a long time and two different online chat helper people before the website could accept what was happening.)

This morning I got a cheerful, but slightly panicked call from someone at Walgreens.  I asked, "Is this about the world's biggest photo order?"

"Yes" she said.  She wanted to make sure I had really meant to do that.  I assured her I did.  She said no one had ever seen a 5000 print photo order and I'd probably set a record.

Then she added, "Well, um, we have a few problems..."  The first was that it was not going to be done this afternoon.  I told her I didn't expect it to be and that was fine.  The second was that they didn't have enough paper to print the order, but they were in the process of going to all the other Walgreens to get more.  Also fine.  The last problem was the one that had her panicked because the photo order only stays in the system for 24 hours, so they have to finish it before the end of the day or it will disappear.  I told her good luck with that, and whatever happens I'd make it work and I appreciate their efforts.

She then started to make suggestions for if I ever do this again, and I assured her I was never, ever going to do this again.  She sounded relieved.

My mom and my kids all want to come with me to pick up the photos when they are ready.  We're all having trouble imagining what a 5000 picture order looks like.  I don't think it will be in the little file bin by the register.

I'm just hoping I didn't screw up and accidentally order 5000 of the same photo.  If so, at least I will now have all my Christmas cards for the next few years.  And valentines.  And any wallpaper needs covered.

(Oh my god I can't believe I ordered so many photos.)


  1. This is making me laugh really hard. I love printed photos too... Never ordered 5,000 of them though!! I worked at a one hour photo place in high school so I can just imagine the employees freaking out over that and it's hilarious. 😀 I hope all your family and friends enjoy your photos too!

    Also, I think you should take a picture of the completed 5,000 photo order, then have it printed at Wallgreens 😀

    1. I was already planning on taking a photo of the photos, but I hadn't considered having it printed at Walgreens. I should give them a copy, to remember the good times we shared. Maybe in a little frame.