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"I somehow have the feeling that you think I'm fussy.  I don't agree." -- excerpt of an e-mail from Carol Feltman, author of TEMP.tation, which I reviewed on 7/18/00.  Full report on Monday.)
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6-1-01 - Teaching to the Masses

E-mail I received the other day:

Dearest Tempest- 
Over the course of a few afternoons, I have thouroughly [sic] inspected your site, allegedly dedicated to the style of "temping." I regret to inform you that substitude [sic] teachers, the first temp[s] a person will run into in their life, has [sic] not been mentioned. Obviously this has been an oversight on your part, please correct immediately.
Thank you. 
Max, the substitute teacher

Spelling, style, and assorted other errors aside, Max has a good point.  I haven't mentioned substitute teachers, but I have a damn good reason for it, which I will talk about soon.  Right now, in fact.

This was the scene outside my apartment not long ago.  Local teachers protesting, as they've done before and will do again.  Their gripe?  They're overworked.  They're underpaid.  They have a lot of job stress, and no recognition.  They work hard, incredibly hard, yet they're not appreciated.

If these problems sound familiar to you, they should.  They probably sum up the problems of almost everyone you know.  Not just teachers, but nearly everyone who holds down, or tries to hold down, a normal job.  Maybe even you.

Personally, I can't think of anyone I know who feels they receiving the money and appreciation they deserve.  No one I know is particularly satisfied with what they do for a living, by any means.  Their offices are under-funded.  Their working conditions are unsuitable.  They are surrounded by shrieking morons all day (particularly my chums in retail).  This situation is not exclusive to teachers.

But teachers, apparently, think they are different.  Sure, like I said, they do have a legitimate gripe.  I'm certain their jobs are difficult and unrewarding, I just don't see what makes them so damn special.  Yet, everywhere you turn, there they are, protesting, bitching, complaining, marching, getting articles about their plight in major magazines, getting air-time on national news programs, and jacking up the price of coffee at that donut place in the picture (actually, teachers probably had nothing to do with that, but I need to blame somebody.)

Now, I have no problem with them, or anyone, complaining.  I mean, look at this website.  All I do is bitch.  It's just the extra attention they get, and the way they present themselves as martyrs for the cause.  Listening to them, you'd think they were the only ones with crappy, low-paying jobs (although, I need to note here that I temped for a teacher's union, and even the starting salaries looked pretty damn decent to me).  So, exactly what makes the job of a teacher so much more special than the job of a normal idiot like me?

Oh, yeah.  They're guiding our children.  And the children are our future.  That must be it.

None of this is what's really bothering me, of course.  I don't really know much about the plight of our educators, having done no research, and having changed the channel to Sabrina the Teenage Witch reruns anytime a news story about teachers was broadcast.  Really, I'm just crabby because this protest went on for two hours, and seemed to be centered around the block I live on.  Traffic was snarled, which provoked angry honking from some motorists, while others sympathized and provided supportive honking.  I couldn't tell the difference between angry honking and supportive honking.  To me, it was all just a buncha honking.  Two hours of it.

Personally, I'd like to believe that 75%, or 3/4 of the honking, was angry.

Some teachers, however, may have a problem with my math.

(Thanks to Max for the e-mail, and for the record, I think substitute teachers RULE!!!  GO SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS!!)



5-31-01 - Reader Stuff

Hey, check dis out!  The above banner was sent in by Elaine, who has a website you can visit at  Thanks, Elaine!  Nothing makes me happier than people creating cool stuff for me.

Also, Mikela is starting a Yahoo Club for receptionists, so why not join up?  She's looking to recruit phellow phone-answerers to commiserate on the perils and pitfalls of being a receptionist.  Click this link to visit the club.

And, spinn mailed me this Mixed Media cartoon a while ago, which I thought was pretty damn funny.  Click here to check it out, and of course, pay spinnwebe a visit, because he's got a buncha swear words in his brainshot today.

Plus, Stephen, an Australian reader, got my website mentioned on Australian National Radio!  Holy cow, that's cool.  I appreciate it, and here's the link to the sites they've reviewed and talked about.

Finally, as I was "working" on this "update", I got an e-mail.  It only contained two words, "Groovy site", after which followed a slightly longer disclaimer that read:

"All material in this message is confidential to <company name> and the intended recipient as named and protected by legal privilege. If you are not the intended recipient, please note that you may not use or copy any material in this message nor pass it on to others. It is the addressee/recipient duty to virus scan and otherwise test the information provided before loading onto any computer system. <company name> does not warrant that the information is free of a virus or any other defect or error. Please notify us promptly that you have received this message in error by returning it to the email address or fax number below and deleting or destroying the document."

Huh.  'Kay.  Thanks!



5-30-01 - Vehicular Manslaughter

Henchman time!  More on the shaky theory that temporary employees have a lot on common with movie henchmen.


Henchman of the Week:  Mr. Joshua

Featured in:  Lethal Weapon (1987)

Previous Experience:  Government Worker

MO:   Killing people from moving vehicle

Described by Friends As:  Outgoing, capable, psychopathic

Hates:  Paper jams

Termination:  Shot by unlikely buddy-cop duo

Temporary Assignment:  It's important for temporary employees to have a reliable source of transportation.  In this hectic day and age, temps never know where their assignments may lead them, and a good example of this is Mr. Joshua, henchman for General Peter McAllister, head of Shadow Company (corporate slogan:  Uniting Heroin and Junkies Since the Vietnam War).  Joshua is an ex-Special Services mercenary, yet is freakishly loyal to his current boss, even holding his forearm to a cigarette lighter so his boss can show off to a potential client.  Hey, beats fetching coffee.

His first little bit of business is to put the kibosh on a whistle-blower.  Big Heroin is a bit more proactive than Big Tobacco is: rather then put a bullet in the squealer's mailbox as a warning, they instead put it through his chest.  Joshua does the job with a sniper rifle from a hovering helicopter, while his target is nice enough to stand in front of a window and be killed.  Sure, not every temp has access to a chopper, but it comes in handy for Joshua here.

He later tries to take out Martin Riggs (a scruffy cop who sounds vaguely Australian) with a shotgun from the back of a Buick, again showing us the need for reliable transportation.  Even the most tolerant of car-pool partners might raise an objection to capping a cop during the ride home from work.

Riggs survives, due to his wearing a bullet-proof vest, but other affiliates of Shadow Company have captured the daughter of Roger Murtaugh (a grouchy older cop) who is, frankly, too old for this shit.

Joshua is put in charge of exchanging Murtaugh for his daughter, but Murtaugh lobs a smoke grenade at him while Riggs picks of goons from a distance with a sniper rifle.  Joshua's boss has somehow anticipated this, however, and he sneaks up on Riggs just before Riggs is about to dispatch Joshua (Joshua does, in fact, leave his limousine long enough to shoot Murtaugh in the arm, but quickly retreats to another vehicle when things get dicey).

At the Shadow Company corporate office, Joshua facilitates some connectivity with a trussed-up Riggs.

"Now if you would kindly tell me everything you know, I promise you I'll kill you quick."

Tempting, to be sure, but Riggs doesn't know anything (except maybe what women know).  Joshua helps out while a familiar-looking goon named Endo tortures Riggs with a car battery.

Riggs later escapes, rescuing Murtaugh and chasing Joshua down the street while they both fire machine guns in heavy traffic.  Joshua gets away, hijacking not one but two cars, the second of which he drives to Murtaugh's house.  Once there, he shoots two police officers to death from the driver's seat.  Man, this guy is battin' a thousand as long as he's in some sort of motorized conveyance, huh?  Sadly, his fascination with the automobiles becomes his undoing, for while he stands in Murtaugh's house, a driverless police car plows through the wall.

Now, obviously, someone has sent this car crashing into the house, and that someone is most likely still in the vicinity.  Joshua doesn't seem to realize this, for he opens the car door, peers inside to check out the interior, then turns off the engine.  This distraction allows Riggs gets the drop on him, but rather than slapping the cuffs on Joshua, he challenges him to a fight on the front lawn.

Riggs proceeds to beat the crap out of Joshua, although Riggs is clearly the least convincing martial-artist since John Saxon in Enter the Dragon.  Joshua winds up with his head pinned between Riggs's legs, and Riggs makes some disgusting pelvic thrusts, causing Joshua to give up.  As a couple officers pick Joshua up off the ground, he grabs a gun, inviting Riggs and Murtaugh to shoot him, which they do.

Performance Review:  Joshua is obviously a car guy.  He works well in them, rarely leaves them, and hey, there's nothing wrong with that.  Chicks dig cars.  Joshua's real problem is his devotion to his boss.  I mean, when the jig is clearly up, Joshua heads to Murtaugh's house instead of fleeing the country, and this gets him killed.  Some temps never stop trying to prove their worth, I guess.  They arrive early, they stay late, they tidy up after everyone has gone, they gun down police officers and go they extra mile to ensure the safety of heroin shipments.  Admirable, but in the end, not worth the effort.

Mr. Joshua was played by Gary Busey.  In addition to being an actor, he's been addicted to drugs, found Jesus, nearly died from head injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash, and had a plum-sized tumor removed from his nasal cavity.  Busy busy!

Check out our Hall of Henchmen!



5-29-01 - Stinko's

(Diversions this week:  Things to forward to your friends, who have probably already seen them.  Sticky Baby, which will either annoy you incredibly, or make you laugh so hard you can't stay in your chair.  Just move the mouse around faster and faster, and man, it's funny.  And noisy.  Stare At The Dot, where you stare at the black dot and move your head closer to the screen.  Weird.  And this cool Flash 5 animation.  It's noisy, too, but very cool.  Links on the sidebar.)

Anyhoo, last thing I posted was about my impending interview with a new temp agency in Oakland.  It was to take place Friday morning, at 8:30am, so Thursday night, I got all my materials together nice and early, prepared my résumé, ironed my clothing, and went to bed at a reasonable hour.

Ha, yeah.  That's what I did.

Thursday, 11:55pm

Finally get around to printing out my résumé.  Discover that my printer's ink cartridge doesn't quite have enough ink for the job.  To late to find a replacement.  Decide to leave early Friday morning and stop by Kinko's, which is on the bus route, and print out my résumé there.

Friday, 7:00am

Leave for interview.  Tired.  Very tired.  Need coffee.  There's a coffee place next to the Kinko's, I seem to remember.


Stare blankly out window of bus at Kinko's and coffee shop.  As the bus rockets past them, they seem as though they should have some significance to me.  Um... oh yeah.  I was supposed to get off there.  Oops.  Too late now, the bus is stuck in traffic in the tunnel.


Get off bus in Oakland, on 12th street.  Figure there must be another Kinko's around here.  Decide to walk toward the building my interview is in, which is on 21st Street, and hope I run into a Kinko's on the way.


Arrive at 21st Street.  9 long blocks.  More tired now.  Spot the building my interview is in across the street.  Didn't see a Kinko's anywhere along the way.  Head for phone booth.


Yellow pages confirms the existence of a Kinko's.  On 12th street.  Right about where I got off the bus.  Crap.  Start walking again.


Arrive back at 12th street.  See Kinko's across the street.  Have now walked 18 blocks, all with no coffee.  Haven't let myself smoke, either, since I don't want to stink during the interview.  Body seems to be wondering what the hell is going on and why we're walking around with no drugs in our system.  Brain kinda shrugs.


In Kinko's.  Naturally, there is only one employee.  One slow-moving woman who is helping the four-hundred or so customers.


Employee finally comes over to me.  I tell her I need to print something from a PC.  She asks if I've signed in.  For some reason, you have to sign a guest-book before they will help you at this Kinko's.  Weird.


Employee can't seem to log me into the PC.  Luckily, she's been well-trained.  After each time the password she types in is refused, she stands there, staring at the screen, saying "I don't know why it's doing that," and then she retypes the same password back in.  Slowly.


She walks slowly away to find a much more fleet-footed employee to help her.  Guys bustles over, types in a password, wonders aloud why it is being refused, and then retypes it.  Although he is not helping the situation, at least he is being quick about it.


Half-hour to interview.  They have moved me to another computer.  Résumé is printing, at last.


Trying to pay for printouts.  The slow employee and the fast employee are both helping another customer, the customer who is standing behind me in line.  Though I've never even held one before, palms are itching for a gun.


Finally got to pay and leave weird Kinko's.  Really really really need coffee.  Visit Burger King, get coffee and "Croissan'wich".


Urp.  Feel better.  Had coffee, now need cigarette.  No objections from lungs or bloodstream or helplessly addicted central nervous system.  Light cigarette and start walking towards 21st Street again.


Realize I shouldn't go into interview with coffee, cigarette, and fast-food breath.  Stop to buy gum.


Spend five minutes waiting for woman in shop to attempt to pay for a small plastic dog filled with candy with an ATM card.  An expired ATM card, by the sounds of things. 


Arrive at 21st street, after walking at twice the pace I am accustomed to.  "Breakfast" not feeling so great in stomach.  Kinda gurgly.  Out of breath.  Hot coffee + walking = sweatiness.  Still, made it.

8:29am and 30 seconds

Cross street to building and walk in front door.  Try not to notice the Kinko's that is adjoining this building.  Try not to wonder how I could have missed it when I was here earlier.  Try not to think about the fact that I wouldn't have had to walk 27 blocks.  Try not to realize I could have had a nice leisurely breakfast, and a few more cups of coffee, and that I wouldn't have been all sweaty and gross.  Try really, really hard.




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