Monday, May 2, 2016


While this is not directly connected to anything Leica, these incidents happened in the largest Leica store in Minneapolis.  My days usually get brighter when I think of it.  Working in a retail organization sometimes can get a bit tedious, so it is up to us to make the best of it.


We had one customer who was interested in adding a professional electronic flash to his camera equipment.  He was very adamant about getting as powerful a flash possible.  I showed him everything we had in stock.  But nothing was powerful enough.  This went on for several weeks, and it became obvious after a while that he wasn’t really serious.  Talking to him basically turned into a waste of time, but I didn’t just want to tell him that.  There had to be a better way.

The next time he came to the store, the same thing happened again.  After the usual conversation, I told him that he had to realize that a flash could only be made powerful to a certain point.  He asked why, and I explained that increasing output beyond a certain level, when a flash was fired, it would be followed by thunder, something that generally was unacceptable.

A customer had bought what at that time was the most expensive 35mm camera on the market, the Zeiss Contarex electronic.  He was a very busy lawyer and didn’t have an opportunity to use his camera very often.  The result was that every time he planned to take some pictures, he would come to the store first to have me explain the operation of the camera once again. 

One day when visiting us, I noticed that all his lenses were coated with some smeary, hazy layer.  I told him that it was far from me to tell him how to use his camera, but that a good cleaning of his lenses would much better assure him of the results that his camera was capable.  He answered:

“Oh no, that’s alright.  Someone who knows explained to me that the best way to clean a lens is to lick it.”

Then there was the know-it-all customer.  Regardless of what was being discussed, he pretended to know about it.  That wouldn’t have been so bad, but he would always take up a lot of our time just to talk about his new discoveries, even though we knew about them.  For a bit of a lesson, we asked him the next time if he had heard of the new device to lightproof darkroom.  Of course he hadn’t.  We explained that it looked like an ordinary light bulb, but that it worked on the reverse principle.  While an ordinary light bulb emits light, this device did just the opposite; it absorbed light, thus making the room dark.  But we went on to explain that one still had to cover the windows some because the unit had only a limited capacity, that too much light would make it blow up.

This story I wasn’t involved in myself, but I observed one of my colleagues.  An elderly gentleman entered the store, looking somewhat lost.  When my colleague asked him if he could be of any help, the gentleman answered that he wanted to buy a raincoat.

“Sir, this is a camera store.”

“I don’t want to buy a camera, I want to buy a raincoat.”

“For that you want to go to the store next door.”

“I don’t want to go next door; I want to buy my raincoat here.”

“But sir, we don’t sell any raincoats.”

“Well, I have always bought my raincoats here, but
if you don’t want to sell me anything, I just have to take my business elsewhere.”

Then there is total embarrassment by a co-worker.  The store was open late every Thursday.  Often it wasn’t busy at all and most of the employees were sitting in the back of the store with only one of us on the floor.

It was my turn.  A nun had come in looking for a camera.  I showed her several items that would suit her needs and she decided on a certain model.  I began to explain the functions of the camera in more detail when one of the guys in the back let out a thundering burp.  I was in mid-sentence and got totally stuck; all I could do is stutter, trying to get the the words out to finish the sentence.  Needless to say I was very much embarrassed.

The nun at that moment crossed her hand across her chest, and with her head bowed a bit, she looked up at me and said:

“That’s alright, I’ll take it.”

And finally something directly involved with Leica.  While this did not happen at the sore, it is still quite funny.   Over the years Leica has received some rather funny mail.  We are glad that some of these letters were saved because they definitely make for an interesting read and should bring some fun into your day.

Please Note: We checked very carefully; the typos are definitely not ours.

In no particular order…

“Please allow me to ask if it is possible for you to send a 'Leica' for my disposal in trade for business.  I am offering the following: Insurance of all kind, private hospitalization insurance and Laundry Detergent.  In case you are interested in one or the other...”

“I have three magnifying glasses in average of 10cm diameter, and a close-up set of 5.5.5 and 5.5 cm diameter.  Are you able to make a binocular out of this?  I think it is best to reduce the size of the glass to that of a binocular or photo.  I assume you have binocular housings?”

“Both my Leica cameras were stolen, both cameras black in a briefcase with 1 pound of sausage, ¼ pound butter half a loaf of bread and Leica films (a lady in half figure pose with and without fur.  Lady appr. 50 years).”

“I wish for you to send me a Leisa camera.  If you don't have one in stock then don't send one.”

“I would like to throw a drop of water for hours onto a wall such that it will get a diameter of at least 1 meter...”

“I would like to check if I could buy a photograpfy apparatus.  I would really like to buy a photograpfy apparatus, I will send the money right away, then write to me how much the apparatus is.  One like on the picture that I enclosed.  But sometimes write to me if such an apparatus I can get, and how expensive it is, then I will send the money right away.  Now I must close with the hope that you will send me such a photogrpfy apparatus, I would really like that.  But please, write back to me at once, and send me such an apparatus I will send the money right away.”

A company wrote:
“We need a microscope, three or five barrel...”

A microscope delivered in East Africa proved to have something missing.  The letter requested the following:
“1.  Three lenses that you screw on...”
“2.  The lens through which you look on the top...”
“3.  The lens that is under the table.”

“Other than that the microscope is complete.”


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