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How Is This Man Not In Jail?

, , , , , , | Right | May 17, 2022

CONTENT WARNING: Violence

I once managed a photo studio that required a signature anytime portraits were picked up, forcing the customer to acknowledge that they would not try to copy the photos elsewhere.

Pretty basic terms of service, yes? Except, it seems, not for this one guy.

I was already dreading seeing him again, as when he and his partner brought their new-born in for the shoot, I’d had to end the session early and kick him out of my studio after he repeatedly called his partner the worst kind of names because she couldn’t get their seven-day-old to smile on cue, I’d had enough! 

Anyway. He stopped by to pick up his portraits, and I paused the session I was in to hand them to him, rather than have him wait in the crowded area with lots of moms and kids, since I knew he was irrational.

Customer: “Why do I have to sign? I’m refusing!”

He says something something Secret Service FBI 9/11 something something gave him the right to copy his photos.

I did my best to defuse the situation, but he was having none of it, and that’s how I found myself pinned against my studio wall, his hands reaching for my throat, as he threatened to gut me like a deer, put me on the hood of his car, and drive me around town to show everyone what happens when you cross him.

My studio was in a retail store, and one of the clerks finally asks:

Clerk: “Do you think I should call the cops?”

And this is as I am gasping and telling people to call the police! 

Said police arrived. By that time, the retail store manager (not my manager) was there and had contacted my district manager.

Together, they informed me I wasn’t allowed to press charges, and that the disruption was probably my fault. The police begged me to press charges anyway, as this was the fourth time in the last couple of days they’d been called to remove this one customer from various places in town.

My DM stood firm, though, and reminded me that A) I’d get fired if I didn’t make folks sign to pick up photos and B) why did I confront someone over not signing?

So, gentle readers, I quit. A competitor was planning to open a studio, and I gleefully went over there for a bit more money and a lot more autonomy.

The next Christmas season, the same man once again came in for photos, sans partner.

When it came time to review his portrait order, he started to get belligerent with me again, and threatening.

This time, I looked him in the face and said:

Me: “I’m not scared of you. I’ve already called the police on you once and I’ll do it again. If you want portraits from me, you’re going to sit down, shut up, and only open your mouth to politely indicate which ones you’d like to buy. Do you understand me?”

And so he did… and yes, he acknowledged copyright when he picked up that set of photos, too.

Thankfully, I’m long out of retail – this happened twenty years ago – but I’ll never forget my worst customer ever.

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