“For now, everything remains the same.” My Manager says with a sigh of relief.
“Yeah, when they bought us out it all stayed the same for about a year.” One of the Assembly Line Portrait Photographers at the meeting says. “Then we were all just employees of the New Company one day and the Old Company was gone.”
“I was a little worried there for a couple of days.” I say.
“So was I.” Says the Manager.
Back in the Old Days there were things called Towns. These were small collections of people who happen to live in the same place at the same time. For the most part, Towns were self contained. I know it’s hard to believe now, but there was no internet, no interstate, and no one in Korea banging out Nikes for ten cents an hour. People thought twenty miles was a long distance. So if you wanted a Soda Pop, a Hamburger, or a Portrait-you went to someone you knew who lived in that Town and made their living by making Soda Pop, Hamburgers, or Portraits.
The Occupy Wall Street folks think we should go back to those thrilling days of Yesteryear-take the money away from Wal-Mart and give it back to the fifteen or twenty local businesses that a Super Center puts out of business. But the 99 Percenters are living in a dream world, the 19th century is gone and all but forgotten.
Now whenever you spend money, it goes somewhere else-the problem, of course, is that there are fewer and fewer places where the money ends up. I’m reminded of a horrible sci fi movie where ALL restaurants in the future were Taco Bell-they won the Fast Food Wars and could claim all prepared foods as their own. And this is where were we are heading with the Assembly Line Portrait Universe. There are a few small timers and one or two not so small timers, but for the most part, The New Company is where you will go to have your portrait taken.
At the moment, there is no practical way to outsource Assembly Line Portrait jobs-but I feel certain that High Speed Video hookups will one day replace us all with cheap labor from India. Until such time, the brave new world of Assembly Line Portraits rolls on.
Of a more serious nature is the fact that the New Company was already doing the kind of work the Old Company does-so I have to wonder how all those Shoots will be divided now that we are one big happy family. It appears that we know more about the Directory side of the business than they do-not too surprising since they make the bulk of their money from School Shoots-which the Old Company hasn’t done in quite some time. So it might all work out for the best.
One of the rumors I am hearing is that the PreSellers will no longer be paid by the Sitting and will be Paid by Sales Commission like the rest of us. If true, this is the best news I have heard in a long time. It means no more crappy Shoots where no one wants anything, no more Shoots booked a year and half after the last Shoot, and no reason for the PreSellers to keep it a State Secret that Our Business is Selling Portraits. I am cautiously optimistic on this point.
The choices I have made with my life have never been all that great. Looking back it’s easy enough to see that I could have done a few things different, but, it would still be me making them, so there is no guarantee it would have turned out much better. Just different. For the most part things are OK. Yeah, I have no savings to speak of and I really am only a couple of paychecks from being homeless-but, and I hate to admit it, I’ve been a couple of paychecks from being homeless most of my life.
One of the Good Things about the New Company is that they have Profit Sharing, all I have to do is hang on for six years to be fully vested-whatever the hell that means. And they have insurance. There is even a Portrait Contest with a big money prize. It seems all this stuff was there last time I worked for them, but none of it did me any good. So I’ll see how it goes this time round.
One of my minor fears is that the New Company will leave our current Fearless Leaders in charge-or worse-put them in charge of Both the Old and the New Directory Shoots. Shudder.
Yeah, I know. I’m a glass half empty kind of guy.