Wednesday, June 27, 2012

it's hard out here for a TEMP!

"Hi my name is *Nigel Figel.  I am filling in for *Bethany while she's on vacation."

"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.    

Sure, we've all seen the Office.  We all remember when Ryan was a temp at Dunder Mifflin back in '06.  It's a non-honor to let everyone know that I  have been a Ryan many, many times.  Office jobs are not my Will  Forte but I sure have had a lot of 'em.  I've temped at banks, salons, recruiting firms, venture capital firms, hedge funds, startups, etc.  On the one hand, temping has granted me flexibility in my schedule.  I am able to work for a week here and there while I try and figure out what I really want to do.  On the other hand, being a temp is essentially the equivalent of being a foster kid in the corporate world.  I like to think of myself as the Temp Fairy: but instead of fairy dust, I have been able to sprinkle my awkwardness throughout the entire financial district of San Francisco.

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 dirtiest closet-like shithole in the office back room and I'll let you get to the bitchwork work!"
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.

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.

BINGO gubelmann!  These wicked witch shoes are acceptable footwear for a desperate temp!

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.

UNACCEPTABLE!  Washed up, weathered jeans are frowned upon at a temp job!  Besides, it is safe to say your supervisor will be washed up, weathered and her name will most likely be Jean.  That'll have to suffice.  (i know - that was way harsh, Tai.  I couldn't resist.)
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!


Tuesday, June 19, 2012




Ever since I was a little girl I've been fearful. Fearful of the car wash, fearful of ponies, fearful of not being attached to my mom at all times, fearful of the dark, fearful of Santa Claus, fearful of my doll called "Baby Uh Oh" who would pee every time I fed her a bottle of water, fearful of my Jamaican babysitter who would style my hair in a tightly wound corn-row-ish 'do every morning before school, etc.  

a doll with a bladder?  terrifying.
Now, as an adult, my fears have matured about as much as I have.  I am fearful of ladies locker rooms (click here to be reminded of my areola-phobia), fearful of awkward silences, fearful of not having my phone on me at all times, fearful of cubicles, fearful of being broke, fearful of commitment, fearful of ending up alone, fearful of crossing the street if someone else isn't crossing it directly in front of me, indicating that it is safe to go (understanding the meaning of traffic signals has never been one of my strong suits), fearful of ferrets, etc.

when it comes to crossing the street solo I am a chicken.  bwack bwack.

My FEAR list is endless.  At the very top of this list is my Fear of Flying.  It all sharted when I was 6 years old.  My mother and I were flying to her native Peru - where we had traveled annually since I was a tyke.  I became so frightened during the flight that I peed all over my seat and subsequently all over the brief case of a man sitting next to me.  He was pissed.  No pun intended.

This incident was only the beginning of a slew of unfortunate in-air crises I've experienced over the years.  Last year I was flying from Boston to SF in the midst of a mini-hurricane.  I was sitting betwixt a three hundred pounder and a girl whose arm draped over the arm rest we shared and almost onto my lap. The turbulence was so severe that I disregarded the captain's orders to remain seated, unfastened my seat belt, stood up and ventured to the tail end of the plane in hopes of garnering comfort and reassurance from the stewardesses.  "WHAT IN GOD'S NAME ARE YOU DOING!? GET BACK IN YOUR SEAT! NOW!" a heartless, frigid, bitch stewardess scolded me sweet stewardess who was just doing her job instructed me.  I began to cry and informed the crew of my predicament.  One of the ladies took pity on me and told me I could sit in the back with them.  "Can I get you a cup of water, sweetheart?" she asked.  "How about a tall cup of alcohol?  Make it stiff.  The stronger the better." I managed to respond in between my sobs and convulsions.  They were not amused.  I spent the rest of the 6 hour flight sitting completely upright in the very back of the plane clutching the hands of two stewardesses and thinking about what a bitch karma is.  I was silent the whole time aside from a few gasps as the plane jerked.  It was perhaps the only instance in my life where I didn't give a fuck about awkward silences or making small talk.  I was scared shitless.  This flight was and I hope always will be the scariest,  most anxiety inducing thing I've ever had to endure (aside from the time when I first made out with MacGruber).

Oh, hey MacPube-er.
Ergo (this might be my new favorite word.  Hope I am using it in the proper context), when I had to fly out of Dulles to SFO last Saturday night I freaked.  Have you ever had a dog who refused to get in your car when you try to take him or her to the vet?  That's how I am about planes.  In an effort to postpone having to fly, I changed my ticket about 4 times and ended up chilling in DC for like a month (I also wanted to find a boyfriend there but that's beside the point.)  So when the time finally came for me to fly out I panicked.  I sat in the terminal contemplating: should I stay or should I go nowww?  I decided I should probably take my mom's advice and "recommence" my life in SF.  I was the last person on the flight and as I did the "Poverty March" toward the back of the plane to join my fellow peasants I realized there was no turning back.  My life was in the hands of Sir Richard Branson and the rest of the Virgin America Co.
After about 5 minutes of ambling down the aisle and clocking people in the shoulder with my over sized satchel I reached seat 23B which was a window seat in a row occupied by a skinny bald man who resembled the Monopoly Guy and a medium sized Indian woman. "Scuse me," I muttered at the Monopoly guy. "Can I pass Go? Can I collect 200 dollars?"  I took my seat and pulled out Fifty Shades of Grey.  I'd heard from every horny woman I know that this book was sure to capture my full attention.  Perfect - In an effort to take my mind off of my fear of flying I have resorted to reading porn in public.

perhaps the pilot was reading this as he tried to navigate through the air  - that would explain the humps bumps
Fast forward an hour and the flight sharts getting bumpy.  I'm on page 52 of my book and it occurs to me that the turbulence seems to be worsening as 50 Shades gets steamier.  I immediately assume there is a direct conrrelation between these two instances and shove the book in my bag, vowing not to read it for the rest of the flight.  Almost immediately that Alanis Morrisette song pops in my consciousness - you know, the part where she sings:

"Mr. play-it-safe was afraid to fly...
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids good-bye..
He waited his whole damn life to take that flight,
And as the plane crashed down he thought, "well isn't this nice?"
And isn't it ironic - dontcha think?"

No, Alanis I don't think it's ironic.  In fact I think you misuse that word throughout your entire fucking song.  Also, how in the name of Tomothan did you manage to land Ryan Reynolds?  Land.  That's all I wanted to do throughout the duration of my flight.

FUN ALANIS FACT:  Her song "You oughta know" is about Dave Coulier  from Full House and if you don't believe me, click here 
As we flew over the Rockies the turbulence started getting really bad.  The pilot came over the loud speaker, "Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seat belts..."  I could feel my heart race as I began breathing heavily, trying to calm my nervous system.

flying the non-friendly skies
I looked over at Medium sized Indian lady in search of some sort of companionship and support.  She was asleep.  Her face was illuminated by the dull glow of Virgin America's signature purple mood lighting.  She looked spooky. Thanks for the purple lighting, Sir Richard Branson but that's not distracting me from the fact that a husky stewardess just almost toppled over from the turbulence as she walked through the aisle.  Suddenly the plane dropped.  I began to cry and woke Medium sized purply Indian lady up from her slumber. "Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!" I was hoping she would soothe my anxiety by telling me everything was going to be OK.  Instead, she woke up, jerked upright in hysterics, started breathing heavily and in that moment I knew we were in the same boat - err, on the same plane - whatevs.  Fuck.  I tried to catch eyes with Monopoly Guy who seemed calm, cool and collected but it was obvious he wanted nothing to do with me and my purple friend.  We had only each other.  We exchanged terrified glances as the plane shook intermittently for the next half hour or so.

toe pick notes on Virgin's barf bag
 "In my religion, we believe that if you think something bad is going to happen, it will.  If you think we are going to die, we will.  We must pray to God."  She held my hand and bowed her head.  I'm not particularly religious but I joined her in prayer, the whole time thinking about how clammy her hand was.  I wondered if her moist hand was going to be the last thing I would ever touch. That's when the turbulence subsided.  About five minutes had passed and we were still holding hands.  Awk.  I let go.  She then offered me a pickle sandwich.  I declined.  The rest of the flight was pretty smooth but I regrettably found myself stuck in a Small Talk situation with the Purple lady.  I used one of my tactics I featured a few weeks back on TPSF to get me through it.  Click here  to refresh your memory.  I didn't feel like talking so I listened to her talk.  And talk.  I spent the remainder of the flight smiling and nodding as she went on and on about her religion and her sons' circumcision.  In the end, I was grateful to have met her - and was sad to say good bye.  We'd become two anxious peas in a pod.

I am supposed to be flying back east in 2 weeks and am contemplating taking the train.  Cereally.
wouldn't choo like to know about the Underground Railroad?  I would.
This brings me to a new segment I'd like to introduce to you called TOE PICK: A LESSON IN HISTORY.

Let me give you some background before I begin:

I consulted my number 1 Toe Pick correspondent for feedback as I edited this post.  Let's make his alias Sylvester. I go to Sly often for advice on whether or not my posts are too inappropriate or offensive in any way.  He normally shoots it to me straight and once I get the green light from him I know it's cool to post my entry.  Not only did he shoot it to me straight this time but he also reminded me of what a complete dumbass I am.  Here's our gchat conversation (unedited):

me: question for you, skittles - I am writing my next post about my fear of flying and i was going to write about how i am going to cancel my flight in 2 weeks and "make like Harriet Tubman and take the train back east. choo choo!" is that pushing the envelope too far? is it offensive?
Sylvester: hahahaaahaa. the underground railroad wasn't even a train. hahahaaaaaaa
me: what was it?! an underground tunnel right?  with a train in it?
Sylvester : unbeliezable
me: u better belieze it!
Sylvester: people will be offended but won't hold it against you because it would be one of the dumbest things they ever read
Sylvester: hahaaaaaa i am seriously about to piss myself
me: oh shit.  i feel like such a bonehead :(
Sylvester: it was a secret route that people took to escape to the north
me: I thought Harriet Tubman worked for Anthrax, I mean Amtrak (*this is a joke btw - i'm not that challenged)
Sylvester: all aboard! the underground railroad!
me: hahahhahaha. oh man i just looked it up. i'm way off
Sylvester: Harriet is the founder of amtrak
Sylvester : harriet tubman, an American hero and founder of the underground railroad, which later merged with Amtrak.

Before you begin judging me for my Jessica Simpson "Chicken of the Sea"-esque comment I'd like you to read the following g-chats.  In an effort to make myself feel better I decided to test my friends' knowledge or lack thereof of the Underground Railroad.  Here's what I got:

*Names are changed.  I don't want to be stupid and friendless - gosh! 

Historian #1
PM me: hey did u know the underground railroad wasn't a train?
Wanda: you are so random. um i never really thought about it too hard. yeah i guess because it prob runs off of electricity whereas trains run off of steam. if i'm wrong don't quote me on that.
me: Oh I will.  But don't worry, I will change your name to Wanda.  No one will suspect a thing.           

Historian #2
me: Was the underground railroad a train?
Felix: yeah, it had first class and a cafe car
me: no way! very kewl

Historian #3
me: Did you know the Underground Railroad wasn't a train system?
Bon Qui Qui: shut up, yes it was.

Historian #4
me: omg the Underground Railroad wasn't a train
Reginald: I know I found that out recently
me: i'm at a loss

me: The Underground Railroad is a train right?
Persephone: Well it doesn't exist anymore but yes, it used to be.
me: gotcha.

And that's all she wrote, folks.  I'm going to sign off and wait for a phone call from my mom about what a waste my tuition money was.  This conversation might be as scary as flying.

Before I go I will leave you with this image of a woman who stood in front of me today on the Muni.  I would make fun of her but I think her tats are Haribo Gummi Bears.  And that, my friends, makes her my hero.

xo, Nige

PS.  This is a long one!  That's what she said.


Monday, June 18, 2012

The District Sleeps Alone Tonight: The Tale of a Fratoid and his Khaki Shorts

(disclaimer: I wrote this about 2 wks ago in DC at my sisters place - unfortch her '01 piece o' shit computer wouldn't allow me to upload photos so my apologies for the delay.)
"Why is Alexandra still in DC?" Bart asked my sister Elizabeth on the phone.

My beautiful sis, whom I lovingly call Elizabreath (or Elizabreast depending on what mood I am in) is just as mature as I am and considers prank calling people to be as much fun as Slip 'n Slide or Crocodile Mile.

the above and below are equally as fun
Bart (I'm not referring to Bart Simpson btw - I'm referring to this guy --> click here if you would like to be reacquainted with TPSF's funniest #1 Bachelor ) was one of our Sunday night victims but naturally, the prank went awry once Elizabeth began cackling and they were forced into an awkward small talk banter.  My sister answered Bart's question without hesitation:

"Because she's been getting more attention from boys here than she does in SF.  She's had 2 dates since she's been here and I'm setting her up with another guy tonight.  He's 35, successful and mature.  Just what she needs. I don't think she's been on a date for like 2 years in San Francisco."

I scooted closer to Elizabreast, eager to hear Bart's reaction.

"That's because she has no game here in SF.  She asks guys weird questions and makes them feel uncomfortable."

Elizabreath glanced at me and in a slightly accusatory tone exclaimed, "You DO make guys feel uncomfortable!  Stop it."

I tried to interject but it was no use.  She had resumed her conversation with Bart.

"Oh, Bart - I know.  What are we going to do to help her?  She really needs to learn how to act around boys." Elizabeth said, sounding overtly concerned, irritated and even a little hostile.

A shot of adrenalin coursed through my body as I listened to Elizabeth and Bart chat back and forth about my lack of "game" in the dating world, sounding much like worried parents do when they discuss the future of their delinquent kid.

"ENOUGH!" I yelled as I tried to yank the phone away from my sister.

But it's true:  I have enjoyed being here in DC not only because I get to hang out with my darling nieces but also because I have gotten some attention from a couple members of the male species.  Maybe it's because here in DC I am a novelty.  I've been in a drought for the past year or so in SF - if you don't believe me, scour the TPSF archives.  To say I've had a lull in my dating life is the undershartment of the year.   

Anyway.  Enough about my practically non-existent  super interesting love life.  While we are on the subject of the male species I would like to take this opportunity to address the uniform of typical Georgetown boys (by Georgetown boys I am referring to the ones who frequent the popular night spot Sniff Smith Point.)  I guess since I've been living in California for the past 4 years I'd forgotten about the shorter-than-short khaki shorts movement in the South and in DC (most guys I've seen in Georgetown are from the South).  I can remember watching fratoids at Ole Miss doing keg stands in their hemmed khaki shorts that left very little to the imagination.  The guys I saw at Smith Point (aka Khaki Shart Ville) were not too different.  What these boys lack in gel on their heads they make up for in barely-there khaki shorts.  So they've got that going for them... which is nice. 

SP - The Mecca for short male khaki shorts. 
Wanna get on The List fellas?  Better go home and hem those shorts first!
ShartKhakiSharts = Georgetown's answer to San Francisco's FuglyMuniShoes
(are the above apostrophes supposed to be there?  Please don't judge me if they are not.)
PS.  Who wants to bet 4 out of the 5 guys pictured here are named Hunter or Davis?
OK - I am done poking fun at super preppy boys - I am here for another week and something tells me the Georgetownians aren't quite as liberal/tolerant as San Franciscans.  I gotta be verrry careful here. I don't want to walk down Wisconsin and get nailed by a penny loafer thrown by an angry driver, or tripped by a Vineyard Vines tie as I walk through the door of Martin's.


Besides, this Toe Pick post is named after a Postal Service song from circa 1999. I don't have any right to make fun of anyone. :(

I will say (err... write) that I was expecting my trip to DC to suck as bad as Sandusky but I have been pleasantly surprised.  It's a beautiful city worth exploring if you get the chance.  I lived here before I moved to SF for about 8 months and spent most of this time cooped up in my tiny, Anne Frank-esque basement apartment, watching Lifetime and crying over a break up (side note: this relationship I was so distraught over lasted 7 months and we saw each other 4 times total... oh, and I was cheated on about 65 times.  You do the math.  I'm not familiar with the Pythagorean Theorem or whatever.)  My point is:  It has taken me revisiting this place to make me realize how much I've changed and dare I say, grown up...?  And I owe it all to San Francisco.  Or as people here call it, "San Fran."

Have an awkward day!

xo, Nige

2 weeks later...
It's Father's Day as I write this.  Happy Father's Day to the coolest, smartest, greatest dad in the world.  Thank you for always being on my side!  As a Father's Day gift I got you our favorite movie Demolition Man - can't wait to watch it in a couple weeks.  Love you!

 And yes, my father reads Toe Pick. Awk.