"Oh! You're the TEMP. Hi - please follow me." an attractive woman who looked like she could have been a model for Talbot's back in the day instructed me .
I am led to a palatial lobby - crisp, white and eerily clean. In the middle of the lobby is a giant reception desk - strewn with hand sanitizer, a stapler, some Advil, post its, tape, and photos of Bethany's dog and sons.
"Here are the instructions Bethany has left for you. Oh, and here is the directory and a map of the office. You know how to transfer calls, right? Oh and you'll need to grab the mail everyday. Here's a key. You think you can handle all this? Don't hesitate to call me if you have any questions at all." Talbot's lady spoke slowly and defiantly at me, as if I was a 15 year old kid with two brain cells that were in a fight with each other.
"Why don't you go ahead and log in and I will show you how our Outlook works."
"S-s-sure - no problem," I stuttered.
Shit. I immediately thought of my chipped blue nail polish struggling to cover my finger nails. Talbot's lady hovered over my shoulder as I tried to come up with a plan of attack: How in the fuck am I going to type out my username and password without exposing my unmanicured nails? I could type with my knuckles - but that would be too baboon-like. I finally gave in and began typing like a homo sapien. I could smell Talbot lady's coffee breath as she invaded my bubble, watching my hands like a hawk as I logged in. My brain turned to mush as I felt her judging me based on my typing skills and my chipped polish. I fumbled thrice trying to enter the password until finally I got it. I realized in that moment how much I'd underestimated the pressure and seriousness of being surveyed by a former Talbot's model whilst I type (this sentence kind of sounds like a Mad Lib). If it weren't for the fact that I am olive complected I am pretty sure my face would've been bright red in this instance.
... and I'm only getting sharted. Allow me to introduce to you a new segment called...
Toe Pick: The Trials and Tribulations of a TEMP.
Here are some typical temp scenarios I've been unfortunate enough to be a part of. Please note how each conversation shifts the second I utter these 4 fateful words: I AM THE TEMP.
(*names of people and companies have been changed because I may be really candid but I'm not a complete idiot.)
1. Running into a full time employee at the restroom sink:
Deardra: "Hi." (Deadra looks at me puzzled while she suds up her hands) "Are you new?"
me: "Hi. No, I am filling in for Bethany. I AM THE TEMP."
Deardra: "ahhh. OK. You're the temp. Have a nice time here."
conversation = over.
2. Answering the phone as a temp receptionist:
me: "Thank you for calling Super Plus Tampax Inc. How can I help you?"
Lynos: "Hi there. I need to speak to the person in charge of determining the standard industry ratios so I can compare the Tampax Industry to the antidisenstablishmentarianism conglomerates of the 21st Century corporate radioactive test tubes and beakers. Who might that be and can you please transfer me to him or her?
me: "Um, well. Um. Let me check. (pause for 30 seconds as I fumble through the 150 page directory.) Uh. You said the antidisenstab - wait, I am sorry, can you repeat that?"
Lynos (sounding annoyed): the antidisenstablishmentarianism conglomerates! Who do I speak to about that?"
me: "Right. Of course. You know, I'm so sorry - I am filling in for Bethany. I AM THE TEMP."
Lynos: "OH. You're just the temp."
3. Being asked to do random shit by ANYONE is a big part of being a TEMP. Everyone is superior to the TEMP so even the little intern named Tomothan can ask you to shine his loafers or pluck his chin hairs if he so desires.
Belinda: "Are you a client?"
me: "No. I AM THE TEMP. My name is Alexandra."
Belinda: "Hi, Alexander. Are you just out of school?"
me: "No. I am 29."
Belinda: "Oh. WOW, Alexandria. You seem a lot younger."
me: "Um. Thanks?"
Belinda: "Well, I've got about 6 months of paperwork that needs to be filed. Do you mind helping?"
me: "SURE! I would love to!" it is important to feign enthusiasm even when asked to do menial tasks. I LIKE TO OWN MY ROLE AS A TEMP.
Belinda: "Thanks Andrea! Follow me to the
me: "My name is actually Alex-" (Belinda cuts me off)
Belinda: "Oh! Sorry Alex."
sidenote: I fucking hate being called Alex. I had a dog named Alex who had lice and was unattractive. Maybe that's why.
MY TEMP ATTIRE:
Obviously, it is important to be profesh as a temp and part of being profesh is dressing like a complete tool. I've got like 3 temp outfits I rotate and they consist of: a black, knee length Anne Taylor dress from circa 2004, a calf grazing navy blue skirt with a white button down (I like to call the 3rd button down "The Dangler"), and an H&M pantsuit with my mom's old Hermes (I don't know how to add an accent mark. Don't shart with me) scarf she gave me like 6 years ago. That scarf has accompanied me to every interview I've ever been on and I look ridiculous in it but we sure have been through a lot together. I can't wear my usual footwear (flip flops) to temp jobs so instead I opt for some Nine West pointy pumps I've had since I was 18. Here are some visuals of acceptable/non-acceptable temp-wear.
1. Temp Footwear: Being a temp requires you to fill someone else's shoes (pun intended). So you better REPREZENT! Flip flops are frowned upon in the corporate world. No one wants to see your leg claws. There's nothing worse than a toe-exposed temp.
|UNACCEPTABLE! Lock those toes up, Temp.|
|You'd think in SF you would be able to pull these off as a corporate temp. Trust me. You can't. You really, really can't.|
2. TEMP apparel - I already explained this.
|UNACCEPTABLE! Wearing a shart, backless red dress to a temp job will make your stay a lot more temporary. (although this would give me some excellent Toe Pick material)|
|My Security Scarf and Kindergarten teacher dress make for the perfect TEMP ensemble.|
Temping is a humbling "occupation" and has given me an inferiority complex once or thrice but the upside is I've learned some valuable lessons about how to treat people. I've realized through my temping endeavours the importance of being nice to EVERYONE (especially people in the service industry). After all, at the end of the day, we are all human and we've all struggled
to find the perfect egg roll at some point in our lives.
Have an awkward day!