747, this situation is exactly what is happening with many regional pilots today.
You are asking a lot of questions that make it sound like you are seeking guarantees before you enter this industry. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but there are no guarantees in aviation! If you want a career field with a guarantee, I suggest you become a tax collector or a mortician, because those are the only two places you'll have a guaranteed supply of customers. If you're not willing to take a few risks, you'll never be able to survive a career in aviation. For that matter, you'll lead a very sheltered and unexciting life.
I think most of us that are flying professionally can safely say that our careers have gone differently than we would have imagined when we started out. In some cases, the differences were for the better, and in some cases not. That's just the way it goes in aviation ... ultimately, this field is governed by lots of factors way outside the control of any one pilot.
Hang out at the regional for the next 5-10 years until the majors started hiring again I guess. All the time keeping my eye out for a good corporate gig. For all I know that may be a better fit than the majors anyway. Just take what is given to you and look for the bright side of things.
Hey that picture is real! I remember seeing the video on a news broadcast! The plane went around twice with the car under it before the driver could time it right with the plane and that guy could reach the gear and pull it down!