Friday, June 13, 2008

Kinkos No More

It's rare that I do autobiographical blog posts, but here's one...

This week, FedEx is ditching the name Kinko's for the more all-encompassing "Office." For many Indy comic guys, Kinko's has been a home away from home, so it's sad to see the name fall away like this.

This represents the end of an Era, and is of particular interest to me because I originally got my start in the digital world by working in Kinko's DTP (desktop publishing) as a typesetter because...wait for it...I could type!

Back then, typing was a skill that was hard to find. Now 12 year old girls types 50 words a minute on their friggin RAZRS! :DDD

Anyway, I started as a typesetter on a b/w macintosh with a...wait for it again...20 meg hard drive. Yes. 20 MEGs. Not Gigs. (A gig hard drive was something we couldn't even conceive of back then.)

Kinko's was supposed to be a *day job* that I took while I worked on my writing career. (I had been cleaning dishes for $2.81 at a local cafeteria, and the thought of making $5.00 an hour was AWESOME to me.)

As it turned out, I really enjoyed the kinko's environment. The free thinking *we can do anything* principles of kinko's in the early days were very cool and customers were always very appreciative when we helped them out with their projects. I spent many late nights helping out some guys from the government, or a law firm, or Indy comics guy with a big project they needed for the next day.

And while we didn't make a lot, it wasn't uncommon to collect big tips from these customers. :D Hm...we also ran *freebie* jobs for local restaurants sometimes, which usually netted us free pizzas or meals from said restaurants. Our manager, was cool with it because he felt it was a way to reward us for the good jobs we were doing. (And a way to ensure all the co-workers stayed on site when we were slammed at the counter.)

When I started at kinkos, you could wear jeans. The guy who interviewed me, Jimmy Trentanove, he was wearing a Led Zepplin T-shirt. We were definitely still living the Paul Ofala hippy copyshop dream. :)

During my years there, it changed to a more formal work environment. This was good because we got health insurance, 401Ks and Profit Sharing. To this day, of all the places I've worked, Kinko's always had the best profit sharing plan because it was monthly. Being monthly, it really showed you the impact of what your actions were.

I eventually left when I was offered a job at a small digital color photo lab that needed a Mac operator to print large color prints. At the time I thought the freedom of a small mom and pop place was what I wanted, but it really turned out badly.

I then bounced to another company where I made scorecards for golf courses. You can see some samples on my website

While working for the golf company, I started teaching myself html. - I really took to html and from there my career exploded. Getting involved in the web has been the most empowering thing for me in my whole life. I recommend it to everyone! :)

And now you know...the rest of the story. :D


Secret-HQ said...

You should've gotten Pierre to do two pages of art and published this as "The Secret Origin of Flashback Universe," Part 1 in your summer crossover.

While I don't have the same history with Kinko's, I have to agree — FedEx Office just isn't the same. :(

Pj Perez said...

Wow. I was just telling a friend a similar story when I heard of the death of the "kinko's" brand.

I started working there in the mid-90s as a part-time job, as well, while I was working on my music (non-) career. I was an avid customer of kinko's over the years as a 'zine-maker, so it only made sense to have access to the goodies up-close-and-discounted.

Eventually, it became a full-time job, and eventually, that turned into 8 years in management with kinko's as I slowly launched my journalism career (this one worked out, unlike the music thing).

I, too, started when the stores were part of the collection of partnerships directly influenced by Paul Orfela. Even when it rolled up into one big corporation, the benefits and profit-sharing were hard to beat (I had to turn down editorial jobs because the money was so good).

But I was there when kinko's sold to FedEx, and saw it change from a service-oriented, employee-owned company to a profit-by-hack-and-slash soul-sucking corporation. And since I left there four years ago (has it ONLY been four years? OMG), I have experienced terrible service, ineptitude and a downright miserable atmosphere each of the very few times I've had to use FedEx Kinko's services.

The name change is simply the final nail in the coffin. I'm kinda glad, because it means I can speak of "kinko's" in its hippiefied heyday without confusing it with the FedEx OfficeMonster.

Caine said...

Its Paul Orfalea...and FedEx Office will be known for far many more things than copies, as Kinko's as thought of still to this day...


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