A couple of weeks ago, my team and I pulled together a weekend poolside shoot with models, perfect weather, and a drone. I operated the drone and got some beautiful footage. Magnificent footage. Award-winning footage.
After the shoot, while putting the drone away and packing up all the gear, it occurred to me that there’s usually the hassle of having to unpack it later just to get the memory card. So I removed the microSD while I still sort of had my hands full and put it between my lips (ostensibly for 10 seconds before I could put it in my wallet).
But through some combination of suddenly almost dropping something, needing to sneeze, slipping (and I’m still trying to figure out how it happened), I swallowed the thing.
No gagging or anything — down it went. I yelled for help and told people what happened. At first they didn’t believe me. Then they got mad that I wasn’t letting go of a stupid joke.
Then when they saw me trying to make myself puke, they were suddenly caught between “holy s**t”, “what an idiot”, “OMG no way”, and offering solutions.
“Don’t drink water!”
“Puke it out NOW!”
“Don’t! Just let it pass through you!”
Anyway, by the time I was able to make myself (dry) heave, nothing came out. Nothing useful, anyway.
I later found myself sitting around at home waiting to take a dump. Others were at work and beyond pissed off. Thousands of dollars potentially down the drain. Well, it wouldn’t be down the drain if I could help it, but I had to just wait and hope like hell that it came out and still worked.
Finally, one discarded pasta strainer later, I got the card. That was fun. When I plugged it in, it appeared for about 2 seconds and then ejected itself. I could see the volume name come up but it didn’t stick around. That was with one memory card reader. The other one thought it was blank and needed formatting. This was on a Mac. On the PC, it recognized it as blank. How does this make any sense?! The card kind of works but lost its contents?!
Finally, I was told to stop messing with the card and bring it into work, along with all my stuff. Ironically, quite recently, I was having a discussion with a friend about how I’m one of the very few people I know who’s made through this far in life (29 years) without ever getting fired. Every McJob (yeah, including McDonalds) I ever worked, I left on my own terms. I thought I’d made it through to the “never fired in his life” club, but alas — I really messed up and I recognized it.
A day later, there was good news: I didn’t lose my job. But it was discussed at length and they ultimately decided that while I may be sloppy in certain aspects, I do good work and this was my first epic screw-up ever (working for them for 2 years). I should point out that the day wasn’t a total write-off… There was ground-based photography and video as well (by people who didn’t swallow their day’s work) and while the aerial stuff was integral to the original vision, the guys spent all day playing with what we did get. The client was told (and wasn’t happy) that there was a technical problem with the footage shot from the drone.
The memory card was then placed in the hands of some experts to see if there was anything salvageable. Then came the great news: the microSD controller was identified as faulty, but the memory contents were intact! All of the video was soon recovered.
Ironically, by the time it was recovered, a lot of work had gone into re-envisioning with what we had, so while some of the footage would be used, it was not in the way originally intended. But the client is now happy, which means the bosses are happy, which means I still have bosses.
Oh, and, of course, the obligatory emails circulated around my workplace: “Hey, if anyone is working in the field with [my name], be sure to take along ‘just-in-case’ provisions” — with pictures of barf bags and diapers. Yeah, I get it. Funny.
About the author: John Doe is an anonymous drone operator and photographer/videographer who accidentally swallowed a whole day’s video shoot by trying to do too much at once. His name has been redacted at his request.