Long tagged as a member of the Generation "X' (voracious appetite for new ideas, short attention span, wanderlust, reluctance to wear a suit), I remember the wrenching evolution of the workplace in the late 80s and early 90s. Where my parents' generation stuck with one profession or even one company for life, my friends and I were infinitely more flexible. Employers were now worried about the demographic crunch, our seeming lack of dedication to their mission statement, our explicit self-interest, and our apparent willingness to jump jobs on a day's notice. As we developed our generational and individual identities, a number of cultural touchstones emerged. Starbucks, unfortunately, has ruined the independent coffee shop experience for everyone. After the tech crash, Fast Company went from being four inches thick to just a regular magazine. And now, the late night Kinko's run will likely change - FedEx has bought it for $2.4 billion.
Sure, the news release talks about tailoring "solutions to meet individual customer needs." But the more ominous claims of corporate synergy are always present: Together, FedEx and Kinko's will create a broader range of high-end corporate solutions, with physical and virtual connections to the global marketplace.
I remember discovering, during a desperate midnight stop at Kinko's, the miracle of cerloxing those extra special late night term papers; realizing that a colour laserprinted resume might just make the hiring manager sit up and pick you for that internship (stay with me folks, this was 1991); and, in 1993, resorting to self-designed humourous coffee mugs after mailing 100 resumes didn't produce a single response (mailing - 1993 - please keep up).
This was the "free agent" life - depending upon Kinko's for that veneer of professionalism, and it continues today. Will the change in ownership mean more of an emphasis on corporate clients? Will FedEx choke what individuality remains out of the experience?