On being a temp at the holidays…
Being a temp could be feast or famine. At one point I had a six week assignment that they pulled me out of at the end of week five in order to send me to a three month assignment. This of course made it impossible to use the aborted assignment as a reference, pissed off a bunch of people, and was contractually prohibited if not downright unethical.
At the holidays, they (the agencies) would fight over you and dangle a little extra incentive to convince you to take an assignment. Since so many people would go on vacation, inhabiting their work space and maintaining the appearance of business as usual was well, business as usual.
On this particular December day, after chopping a thick blanket of ice off of my windshield to get there, I found a 50-seat call center with two employees, counting me. My companion for the weeks before, during and after Christmas informed me that there really was nothing we could do but call 911 if a fire broke out.
“About all there is to do is play solitaire or minesweeper.” This was the turning point in life where I realized I had to get a “real” job. Jan 1 fell on a Monday that year and they employed me and my minesweeping partner to take down Christmas decorations. At least it was something to do that kept the blood from pooling up around our ankles. I called the agency, which now owed me a favor in my eyes for the unfinished assignment debacle, and informed them I was only interested in temp-to-perm assignments. These assignments offered an additional 35 cents an hour and often required a job interview. This kind of cancelled out one of the key features of temping, getting to work without having to interview.
I think of this assignment often during the winter holidays, because it was the end of temping for me. That next year I took a sales job where the only requirement was to pass a drug test and be outgoing. At around year four my father stopped asking me if I still worked there. I never told him that I went from department to department until I found my stride. My time there lasted just short of ten years.