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Voyageur's Best Generally Speaking Columns of 2002

Perception is only a state of mind

Perception is only a state of mind
A play-by-play on John's Day
by John Grones  | 2002

I don’t want to boast but, for the most part, I feel that I’m a pretty perceptive person... or so I thought. The afternoon of Monday, April 8, at around 4:00, changed my perception of my perception.

Monday started just like any other day. Little did I know, circumstances would lead to the loss of every device I own for taking photographs for this newspaper: the Voyageur Press of McGregor.

2:00 p.m. – The circumstances actually began when I went to Cromwell to recognize our new BlueCross BlueShield Minnesota Champion of HealthSM, Don Oman. The event took place at the Bethany Lutheran Church in Cromwell. (see front page).

3:00 – After a refreshing awards program, for a very deserving individual, I headed back to McGregor to help finish up last weeks paper. My spirits were high as I thought about the commitment and dedication that Don has demonstrated the past 10 years, and what he must mean to the rural communities of Cromwell and Wright.

3:10 – Thoughts drifted to my plans to build a new home off Highway 210 between McGregor and Cromwell. On the way, I decided to make a pit stop at Groth Lumber in Wright and visit Cal Jacobson. Cal’s making his own plans to build, so we shot the breeze and discussed our new house building projects.

3:45 – While talking about building, our mutual friend, Bryan, stopped in and joined the conversation. Bryan will be plumbing my new home (if I ever get started) so I asked him if he wanted to stop at the new propery site, off highway 210 west of Tamarack, on his way back to town. I needed some advice on placing the well and septic. He graciously accepted, so we went to check it out.

3:50 – When we arrived, I noticed the ground was soft from the spring thaw, so I left my car 30 feet off the road, on the driveway access. I jumped in Bryan’s truck and we drove, the rest of the 100 yards up the hill, to the back of the grove where I plan to build a home.

4:00 – Our discussion took all of about five to ten minutes and we returned to the car. This is where my fine tuned perception skills started to kick in gear. First, I noticed a set of tire tracks on the opposite side of the car from where we went around earlier. I passed it off as nothing.

4:02 – When I jumped in the car, my keen sense of smell kicked in. It smelled like someone was smoking in my car while I was on the hill. Pretty perceptive, but it had to be my imagination.

4:03 – My keys weren’t in the ignition. They weren’t in my pocket. They weren’t on the floor. They weren’t in the glove box. “Gee Bryan, this is kind of embarassing, but I can’t find my keys,” I said.

“Do you want to go back and look for them?” he responded.
“Naw, I wouldn’t have dropped them up there. I still think I left them in the ignition.”

Working our brains like detectives, we finally determined that the current land owner, Mel Johnson, must have come and taken them, assuming we were tresspassing, so we headed over to his house.

4:10 – Mel had just arrived home, and had actually just returned from the Voyageur Press, where he was purchasing a subscription to the newspaper. He looked at me like I was from another planet. Then he gave me that confused look and asked, “Did you check your coat pocket?” Then it clicked. I didn’t remember seeing my coat in the car.

4:15 – We rushed back to the car and I had two more perceptive thoughts in mind – I needed to call my wife for the second set of keys and, secondly, see if my coat was actually in the car.

4:17 – We arrived to discover that my coat was gone. When I went to reach for my cell phone, it was gone also. So was my camera bag with two digital cameras, a 35 mm camera, a flash, a zoom lens and, most of all, my date book with my entire life planned for the next six months.

4:18 – At this moment I realized I had been robbed... in broad daylight... off a busy highway... with Bryan and myself 100 yards away. How embarassing. I turned to Bryan and said, “I usually consider myself quite perceptive.”

“Me too,” Bryan added. “You would think we would have heard something.”

After a call to the sheriff (with Bryan’s cell phone), we waited and played detective some more. The thief had to be extremely bold. How quickly I was duped! And what keen perception, to notice the tracks, the smell of smoke and a missing set of keys, but not notice that my coat and the tools of my trade had been pilfered. We tried to make some feeble excuses for not noticing the caper, but could only conclude that I’m not as perceptive as I thought.

So, if the paper is a little light on photos the next two weeks, or I don’t show up for something as I promised, I’m in the process of buying new photo equipment and reconstructing a calendar book. Please call or e-mail if there’s something the Voyageur should be covering. Thanks for your patience.