Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Sixth Open Letter to Lifetouch School Portraits

Dear Lifetouch School Portraits,

I sincerely hate to keep bugging you guys, but I just had to bring a new development (get it?) to your attention. Actually, I’m not even sure I am bugging you with these letters, or with the bad photo developing jokes, especially since you probably don’t develop film anymore, since everything is digital now, which would explain why it’s apparently economically feasible for you to send me reams and reams of pictures every spring that I never ordered in the first place of all three of my boys in T-shirts with uncombed hair and food stuck to their faces because we didn’t care that it was picture day again, because we already got our fall pictures like only three months before... where was I?

Oh, yeah... I’m not even sure I am bugging you with these letters, since I never hear anything back from you, but as I have stated in the past, I am a selfless humanitarian – I do it for the good of all mankind. You’re welcome.

Actually, I have to take that back. I did sort of hear back from you once. I got an email from one of your young photographers a while back, responding to one of these letters. It was adorable how she tried to explain to me why I was legally required to return pictures you sent me that I never ordered, of my children that I never asked you (or even authorized you) to photograph.

I never told you her name, since her total lack of understanding of what “legally required” means gave me the distinct impression she didn’t have the authority to speak on the company’s behalf. She seemed like a nice kid and I didn’t want her to get in trouble with you management types, if in fact you do exist.

A few weeks ago I thought I was “hearing from you” in an odd passive-aggressive move when Son Number Two’s fall picture packet didn’t show up with the rest of them. His pictures were the only ones in his class to be missing, and for a moment I thought that might be too much of a coincidence given our history.

I jumped to the conclusion that you were being petty and you didn’t really appreciate all the free business advice I’ve so graciously given you all these years. I’m sorry that thought even entered my mind. His pictures had simply been misplaced, and they showed up about a week later. It was not your fault and I feel bad for even entertaining the thought that you would be anything less than professional.

Anyway, back to the current matter at hand. As you folks obviously know, picture retake day is today at my sons’ school. Sorry about writing you with this problem so late, but I just connected the dots and figured you guys probably hadn’t done so, so better late than never.

Your picture retake day poster in the front office window advertises that today is the day students can “get a second chance at a picture-perfect image.”

That might be difficult.

As you are obviously not aware, this is “Red Ribbon Week” at the school. Each day of the week we are fighting the scourge of drugs and promoting healthy lifestyle choices in a fun and positive learning environment. In other words, the kids are dressing up with a different theme each day.

Wear all red, wear team jerseys, wear patriotic clothes, etc...

Anyway, long story short, you scheduled picture retakes on pajama day.

Like I have told you, I’m a selfless humanitarian. I’m bringing this to your attention purely out of support for your company, and not for any personal reasons. This issue doesn’t affect me at all. That’s because miraculously, for the first time since all three of our boys have been in school, we don’t need retakes.

As you know, Son Number Two has always been our solid producer. He’s good in front of the camera. The other two are spotty at best.

Son Number Three is allergic to napkins. He’s spent approximately nine total minutes of his seven-year life thus far without food stuck to his face, and up to this point, none of those nine minutes lined up with picture day.

And obviously, Son Number One has Chronic Forced Smile Disorder, or CFSD, which has plagued him his whole life. Tell him a joke and he beams like a golden ray of sunshine. Try to take his picture and he smiles like he was just stabbed in the foot with a screwdriver.

But this year, somehow, the camera gods smiled down upon us, the heavens aligned, and when the shutter snapped, you produced three pictures of normal smiling, foodless versions of the boys we know and love.

However, for all the folks that needed retakes today, I’m guessing that if little Aiden’s picture showed him with a mustard stain on his shirt, the fix his parents were looking for was not to replace it with a picture of little Aiden in his Lightning McQueen jammies.

I know in the past I’ve given you amazing and free advice on how to improve your business model, but in this case I’ve got nothing for you. Nothing other than a few words of encouragement about looking on the bright side:

At least you didn’t schedule pictures on Friday. That’s Halloween costume day.

Best of luck,


Copyright © 2015 Marc Schmatjen

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1 comment:

  1. I love the open letters, but you should really re-post the pics with the food smudges (smidges?). That's the best part. As you were.