“Looks like no one is going to show up.” Our Host said in a grumpy voice.
“Well, it’s still early yet.” I said and joined him by the door as he looked out on the empty street. “Sometimes it’s a bit slow around 2 o’clock.”
“Maybe that’s because no one is off work at 2 o’clock. Maybe you should think about starting your appointments a little later.”
“Maybe so.” I say and smile my It’s not my problem smile. “But I just work here.”
We have had people with 9 p.m. appointments show up at 9 a.m. and sit around impatiently waiting for us to show up. Most older people hate going out after dark, so the idea of a 9 p.m. photo appointment is totally baffling to them. It’s kind of baffling to me as well.
I have also had Assembly Line Portrait Studios that opened at 10 a.m. and there were people waiting when I showed up. These where mostly Moms who just wanted pictures of the kids by themselves-often as not two three year olds, a two year old, and an infant. Those are the shots where you see panic in at least one of the child’s eyes as you try to snap the shutter before the lot of them falls over in a heap.
But mainly, there is a lot of sitting around. Assembly Line Portraits are one of those famous Feast or Famine professions where you either sit around reading a book or you have a roomful of people bitching and moaning about having to wait.
All the workers at these accounts tend to bitch and moan as well. If it’s busy we feel that we are working too hard. If it’s slow, we complain about not making any money. If it’s busy and they aren’t buying-well, that just sucks.
Over the years I have read an average of two books a week while working. Once I started blogging, I began to write two or three blog posts a week. I finished my last novel-it never got out of the rough draft-while I was working. Most of my co-workers are now Grand Masters of Window’s Solitaire. I have one of those pocket Video Poker games and I have had Four Deuces in Deuces Wild several times, though I have never hit a natural Royal Flush.
On dead accounts, were no one wants anything and no one is showing up, the two Passers and the Photographer sit around and bitch about what a bunch idiots are running The Company. From time to time, we might even bitch about The Company to the Host or Hostess. But that is usually once we are well down the path to a New Company.
Even if all is going well, we all love to gossip. Who was hired, who quit, who’s the Boss’s Current Favorite-it’s never Me-and where are you working next week? We all have our list of favorites that we love to work with and our list of Worsts that we never want to work with ever again. Just when we get really going, a Customer walks in and we have to go to work again.
During the busy times, there are hours spent driving to and from distant accounts. Hours spent in motels flipping through the channels and finding nothing to watch. Hours spent at fast food restaurants eating food you swear you will never eat again-until you find that it is the only place to eat in town.
Then there are the most annoying Hours of all, the ones spent at home because there are not enough accounts, or you are being punished and they are trying to get rid of you. Assembly Line Portrait Companies take pride in never firing anyone, they all quit of their own accord.
So why does anyone do it? There are the occasional Good Weeks. Weeks in cities you want to see, weeks where your paycheck hits the $2000 mark, weeks when everyone smiles and loves their portraits. Those weeks are few and far between, but just when your ready to give up and look into a career in House Keeping or Food Service-you have another Good Week.
Most of us are also ruined for Real Work. I sit around reading a book most of the time. I’m more or less my own boss. I see my ‘real’ boss once or twice a year. There is no time clock, and I can’t count how many times I have gotten to go home a couple of hours early due to a light schedule. I could never hack a job where some moron stands around telling me-if you’ve time enough to lean, you’ve got time enough to clean.
So scratch that whole House Keeping and Food Service Industry.