Killed During A Photo Booth Set Up
In all my time photo boothing I did hundreds of bookings and whilst every one of them was memorable there is one that stands out more than the rest. But then witnessing a death on the job will do that…..
So let me set the scene, it’s August 2011 and at this point I have been operating my photo booth hire business for a year. I have delivered and set up more than 50 photo booth hires and have got the whole process sorted and think I have seen all there is to see. The weekend is like most around this time. I have two photo booth hires, one hire Friday night in Brisbane and another one Saturday up on the Sunshine Coast.
On Friday morning I set off on the 45min drive to Springfield in Brisbane’s south. It’s a sprawling and rapidly growing area full of families. A photo booth has been booked for a ladies 21st birthday that night at her parents home. When I arrive at the door I am greeted first by a small happy but typically yappy dog and soon after by her friendly mum who takes me through the house out the back to show me where to set up outside. The dog isn’t allowed outside with us despite his eager pleas and she politely tells me to shut the sliding door behind me. As I turn back to face her I see they have a lovely spacious patio area and there is lots of party gear and foodstuffs everywhere. Just what you expect to see hours before a 21st party kicks off.
Together we agree on the best place for the photo booth to keep it safe from any potential rain events which have been forecast. I quickly determine that the booth wont fit easily through the house so the best way to access the back patio is via the side of the property. The ground is very uneven and I risk tipping the booth if I try it alone but she offers to help stabilise the booth whilst Ive got in on the trolley. She tells me she will have to first find the gate key so we return inside. I head off out front to my trailer and begin to unload the smaller stuff first (eg printer paper, my tool bag, guest album) and bring it to the gate. Soon enough the gate is opened and she joins me on the street to help with the photo booth as promised.
As I am standing on the trailer ramp talking to her I catch a flash of something out of the corner of my eye. A second or two later there is the sound of tyres braking suddenly, followed by a thump and a squelching noise for which I can only describe as organically unpleasant. Someone has been hit by a car I start to think as a pit of dread forms in my stomach. We look at each other and move off the ramp to the street to see what has happened. There is a lady getting out of a blue sedan which has stopped at an angle in the middle of the road. The colour is gone from her face and she is clearly distraught. She is muttering something like “he just ran out in front of the car, I tried to stop but couldn’t….”
I walk around to the front of the car and can quickly see blood oozing across the bitumen into the gutter. As I follow the trail I see a tail moving in jerked spasms and then the hind quarters. At first I think it’s some unlucky neighbours dog who has come to grief but then I hear my clients mother’s throat catch and turn to see her fall to the ground in despair. Now she is the one muttering saying “How did you get out?….No no no it can’t be…. it’s my daughters dog…..is he ok?”
I kneel beside the dog and see he is still breathing but from the injuries and the speed of the blood loss he isn’t going to make it. His eyes clearly tell me he is afraid and doesn’t understand what has happened. I pat him gently and his tail begins to wag a little in place of the spasms. I tell him Im there and it’s ok to let go, within seconds he gives out his final breath and passes.
I tell the ladies he is gone and now the tears and words of sorrow are coming in a flood from both of the women. I comfort them as best I can and soon they are comforting each other. The driver is apologising for running over the dog whilst my clients mother is equally vigourously telling her it’s not her fault the dog is known to run out on the street and that’s why he isn’t allowed out.
There is a small crowd starting to gather and cars are starting to back up. The ladies exchange details and the blue car is soon driven away leaving behind a disturbing scene. I offer to clean up the mess as my client’s mum is clearly not fit to do so. She quickly returns with a garbage bag, a bucket of soapy water and a scrubber and I tell her to return inside to sit down so she doesn’t have to witness any more unpleasantries.
As I gently place the dog the in the bag and begin to scrub the road I am hit with an overwhelmingly strange feeling. The situation is beyond unreal some might even say surreal. This is not the day I expected when I set off. I scrubbed till nothing but a dark patch remained and then went about setting up the photo booth like I had many times before.
The lady was clearly still in shock as I sheepishly gave her some instructions for the photo booth. She was still trying to figure out how she was going to break the news to her daughter that on the day of the 21st birthday her dog has been run over and killed.
I remember vividly driving away from that house feeling so sorry for everyone involved. It was such a traumatic experience for those women but I was glad that I was there to be able to bring some comfort to them and in particular to be able to comfort the dog.
Sometimes we have to go above and beyond in our jobs but we do it because sometimes there simply is no one else.