I was washing my truck today for the first time in, well… I can’t remember…

Anyway, as I’m scrubbing the back bumper, I glance at the two State Inspection decals on the right side. The right decal, a weird cloverleaf design (since we don’t have any cloverleaf interchanges in the state), denotes the year. The left decal is a large numeral, denoting the month. Every year, we have to get our cars and trucks inspected, an effort to ensure that unsafe vehicles are kept off the roads. The month decal on the back of my truck is an “8,” which meant mine was due.


Getting an inspection really isn’t a big deal: You pull into an inspection station and the attendant does a visual assessment of all the lights and indicators, checks the wipers and essentially looks over the vitals to ensure your vehicle isn’t a rolling speed bump or proverbial death trap on the road.

Funny thing is, your car may look like Swiss Cheese from all the rust holes, run on three of six cylinders and have the bumpers held on my bailing wire and duct tape. But if your lights and wipers work, it’s safe to drive on Hawaii’s roads. Go figure.

Fifteen minutes after pulling in, my truck passed with flying colors (really!) and I had my new decals and inspection slip for the forthcoming registration renewal. Back in the studio, I started thinking about the safety check, and realized that it would probably be a good idea to give my camera gear one as well.

I hauled my camera bag on the table and unloaded the bodies, lenses and accessories, inspecting and cleaning everything as I went. One lens was missing a cap (thank goodness for extras) and I noticed the plug on my cable release was starting to fray – time to order a new one.

Turning my attention to my camera bag, I worked the zippers and found a few teeth in the main compartment’s closure that weren’t mating properly. Attempting to straighten the teeth, they broke off in my hand, and even with a self-healing zipper, any pressure against the area resulted in instant separation. I began to suffer from separation anxiety.

I’ve had bag zippers fail before. The worst was a few years ago when I was shooting an interior of a house in Wailea. The main compartment zipper failed, and four lenses and a camera body had an unfortunate meeting with a travertine floor from a five-foot drop. The results weren’t pretty: a dented barrel, two shattered UV filters and cracked screen. Finding the compromised zipper probably saved my bacon down the line, especially if the zipper decided to fail while I was hiking on a trail… in the rain… at night.

I boxed up the bag for its trek back to Tamrac for repair, knowing that in a couple of weeks, I’ll have it back, good as new. I’ve already put a note in my 2012 calendar, a big “Safety Check” in the month header. Hopefully next year, by gear will pass as easily as my truck did.