Short story shorter: my mother-in-law gave me her hard drive to load a project file on. I did it. Gave it back to her. She asked for one more thing. She gave me back the hard drive. I loaded it. Gave it back to her. She went to load it up - "unmountable."
6 hours later, I can move again. I went through everything - every program, every help group. Diskwarrior, Drive Genius, Disk Utility - all said the drive was a goner. I even redownloaded Toast. Remember that app from the early 2000's? When we were making DVDs of our reels?
"This drive is dead - destroy it" - literally all three of these programs.
Then a message board saved my life - "hey guys, try Disk Drill."
I tried it - and boom, there are all the files. I loaded it up as a virtual DMG file and now I am copying it over.
So as a solution for if you get a card back from the field and it says "drive not readable, initialize?" Hit ignore and use this program.
Now writing this blog post to repay the karma.