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7-28-00 - Short Term vs. Long Term Temping

Short term wins.


See you Monday!


Just kidding.  I guess I can provide some examples.

There is a huge difference between short term and a long term assignments.  Short term assignments tend to be shorter in duration, while long term assignments wind up being somewhat more lengthy.


See you Monday!


Again, I jest!  Oh, I am a card.  Seriously, let's take a look at the many pros and cons of short & long term jobs.

Short Term, Pro:  It's Always Friday

You arrive.  You work.  You leave.

It's that simple.  

No responsibility.  No pressure.  No hassles.  No pants.

Short term temping is the ultimate weapon in the fight against the system.  You refuse to play by the rules, to submit, to conform.  People won't understand it.  Parents will hate it.  But you'll love it.  You'll show up on Monday just like everyone else, yet you'll leave on Friday altogether differently: for good.  You'll stroll on out of there, leaving the others behind, leaving them trapped in their cubicles and offices and unsatisfying careers, wondering just who you are, just what makes you so free, and just how you managed to completely fuck up their filing system in one short week.

It's a permanent Friday, baby.  Can you dig that?

Short Term, Con:  It's Always Monday

Of course, there's a flip side to constantly ending jobs.

Constantly starting new ones.

Every week or so, it's back to square one.  New places, new faces, which to some of you might sound like an adventure, but to others is an absolute nightmare.  Constantly surrounded by strangers, heading into company and companies unknown, being evaluated, judged, and breathed on by creepy departmental administrators.  Apprehension as you arrive at a foreign building, hesitation before you open the front door, revulsion as you see the tacky carpeting, depression as you realize you won't have an internet connection.  

For those of you with regular jobs, jobs youíve been at for years, jobs you know inside and outÖ why are you reading this anyway?  Huh.  Well, since Iíve got you here, just imagine getting up every Monday morning and realizing: "I donít know what Iím going to be doing today. I donít know if Iíll be working, and even if I am working, I wonít know what Iím working on or where Iím working on it. Someone I donít know will plunk me in a chair and start pointing out all the things I donít know, which, at that point, is everything, since I know nothing."  Sound like fun?  It ain't.

You will be surrounded by strangers every single day.  You'll have to pretend to like them every single day.  You'll have to prove you're worth what they're paying for you every single day.  

It's not easy.  It's downright hard.  Every single day.

Long Term, Pro:  Security

Forget about wondering where your next paycheck is coming from.  Forget about lying in bed Sunday night, wide awake, nervous, listening to the prostitute snoring beside you, wondering if your temp agent will call Monday morning, where they will send you, what they'll pay you, and if it will be enough.  Long term temping is just like a regular job.  Some companies will keep you on for years.  You will grow too valuable for them to replace.  You will become just like any of their other employees, only you'll still have that aura of freedom surrounding you.  A simple grumble of dissatisfaction will have them wondering if you're going to ditch, have them groaning about bringing in another temp and starting from scratch.  Companies get nervous when a temp has too much information.  They've invested a great deal of time in you, and will try to make you happy.  They will fight to keep you on board.  Who knows?  They might offer you a permanent position.

Long Term, Con:  They Might Offer You A Permanent Position

Well, for a lot of temps, this is the whole idea behind temping.  But for true temps, permanent temps, this is to be avoided at all costs.  And even if the money is good, or as we temps from the hood say, the "bank" is "phat", there's a whole other host of problems to consider when taking a permanent job.  

Remember your first week?  When you didn't quite know what you were doing?  When things were a mess from the previous employee?  Well, now that's your mess.  Little errors you made or corners you cut months ago will come back to haunt you.  Chances are, your training and orientation were glossed over when you started.  You were just a temp, there was no need, and no time, to show you everything.  Now that you're perm, however, you have to know everything.  They will expect it of you.  

When you find yourself cursing whoever fucked up that filing system, and suddenly realize it was you, you'll know what I'm talking about.

The other problem with being offered a permanent job is not taking it.  Your co-workers will not understand why you would turn down benefits and true job security.  They will pressure you, they will not take "no" for an answer, and you will run out of reasons to pass on the offer.  They may be offended.  They may, quite possibly, become "pissy".

And that be whack.

Short Term, Pro:  Social Studies

Social?  Anti-Social?  Short term temping can work in favor of either personality type.

If you don't like people, you don't have to get to know them.  There's really no time for them to bug you about joining them for lunch, invite you to attend baby showers, or ask you to marry them.  You can avoid office politics and the rumor mill.  You may be surrounded by people, but with some practice, you can keep them at arms length:  too far for hugging, close enough for punching.

On the other hand, some of you may enjoy new people.  Some of you may make friends quickly, welcome conversation, and feel completely in your element among strangers.

Freaks, all of you.

At any rate, short term assignments will provide you with ample opportunities to make new friends, and you'll walk out of each assignment with a fistful of phone numbers and a heart full of love.

Short Term, Con:  CA$H

Since most of you are greedy and materialistic, let's think about money for a sec.  Short term positions pay notoriously less than long term ones, mainly because the sort of job you get in a short term assignment will be fairly uncomplicated.  After all, if you're only going to be there a week or so, the job won't require much training, explanation, or motor skills on your part.  No one is looking for someone to direct the public relations office for a week.  What they are looking for is someone to insert binder dividers into the accounting archives, something they would bring in a monkey to do if they weren't worried about all the screeching and carelessly-deposited feces.  So, they won't pay a lot.

If you are scrimping and pinching to get by, short term temping may be an impossibility.  There may be times when the only job available is extremely short term, such as a few days or even a few hours, and your paycheck that week will be about enough to cover bus fare and a bottle of Jack.  Sometimes, of course, that's all you need.  But other times, you'll lament the rate of pay, and may be forced to take longer and more steady assignments.

Miscellaneous Pros & Cons:

Let's say you've got to work this week, but you have a doctor's appointment or a wedding or a stalking opportunity on Thursday.  Well, a company may not want to hire you if they know you'll miss an entire day in a one-week assignment.  So, in order to take one day off, you may have to take a whole week off, and that can be tough on your bank account.  Ever tried to pay the rent in loose change?  Me neither.  No one does that.  It's just silly.

On the other hand, it's quite easy to take a day off if you're long term.  Hell, they will probably even pay you for it, as well as holidays and possibly even vacation time.  You are far more likely to get little bonuses and perks as a long term grunt.

If short term temping will do anything for you, however, it will keep you alert.  Let's face it, a lot of these jobs out there are boring, mindless affairs, and moving around, learning new things, hell, even taking a different bus can help keep your attention.  Short term temps don't stagnate, they stay fresh and alert.  Long term temps may find themselves getting bored, slacking off, falling into routines.  Time passes so quickly, and you don't want to look back on the past two or three years and see only one crappy job.  You want to see dozens of crappy jobs.  Don't you?


Of course, there's more to it than the examples listed above.  I'm quite sure many of you will go out with friends tonight and sit around a table in a coffee shop, intently discussing the pros and cons of short & long term temping until the wee hours, and come up with far better examples than I have.

On the other hand, maybe it's simpler than all that.  As Lisa Kroll, a reader, suggested in an e-mail to me: 

Long Term, Pro: People remember your name.

Long Term, Con: People remember your name. 

Thanks, Lisa.  I couldn't (and didn't) say it better myself.



7-27-00 - Science Friction

Sometimes, temp jobs can be incredibly boring.

Sometimes, imagination is the only weapon a temp has.

And sometimes, it's simply not enough.

I had this assignment one time where my sole purpose was to enter, um, tax credit certificates for... uh... pollution control... something or others. I don't really remember what it was, to be honest, but it was dull.  Most of it seemed to be descriptions of the pollution control facilities of various industries, farms, and plants in the Portland area. Some of these terms and devices sounded very science-fictiony to me, and as I worked I began to invent a story from the strange terminology I punched into the spreadsheet; a futuristic tale that sprang forth from the technical jargon...

Every word printed in bold below is an actual term or name in the pollution control biz.

Nelmor Granulator drew his laser pistol and fired at the horde of Horiba Nox probe robots that were surrounding him. The probes were the latest inventions of Nelmor's arch-nemesis, the evil scientist, Freffner Varag. This morning Nelmor had learned of Varag's evil plot to conduct illegal multiple clone retrofits on the citizens of Kellobilt City, and Nelmor was determined to stop him. Dropping his ineffective pistol, he drew his Spire Z-Mixer Plasticating screw gun and blasted away, but it was no use. Looking for a means of escape, he spotted a 7CDL11 Cycloblower parked next to a self propelled diesel stack wagon not far away. Leaping onto the Effluent lift station he rose quickly to the 600th floor, then back down to the 1st (with a short stop on 12 to look at handbags), in an attempt to elude the probes. The lead robot, however, was a Model APNA-305E, and easily saw through his ruse. Nelmor was bitch-slapped into unconsciousness by the robots and taken to Varag's secret hideout in a Micropole baghouse.

"Won't talk, eh?" sneered Freffner Varag.

Nelmor was lashed to the hopper loader of an FG metal separator (it was actually fairly comfortable, considering).

"Well," Freffner snarled, "perhaps a taste of the Bottom Plow will make you talk!"

Nelmor's heart went cold. The Bottom Plow! Oh no! Nelmor had once been tortured with a rear chopper, but that was nothing compared the dreaded Bottom Plow! He wouldn't be able to walk for weeks!

Suddenly the wall crashed in and a lone figure came into view through the particulate matter (or, dust). It was Norkot Maxgrind Hammermill, Space Adventurer!

"Norkot Maxgrind Hammermill!" Nelmor and Varag exclaimed together.

"Yes, I am Norkot Maxgrind Hammermill!" said Norkot Maxgrind Hammermill.

Okay, okay, maybe the story sucks. Maybe it was just a solid waste of time. 

But just show this story to a pollution control engineer and he'll chortle until he wets his feces-smeared hip-waders.

Tomorrow, finally, a comparison of short & long term temping.  Probably.



7-26-00 - First Daze, Continued

My attempts at winning a car by entering several contests are paying off, as this morning, my e-mailbox was jammed with crap, and I had a message on my answering machine at home from someone attempting to recruit me to something called Pre-Paid Legal Services.  While I have no doubt that I will need legal services in the future, and it would make sense to start paying for them now, I smell a scam of some sort.  I guess that's what I get for writing my name, phone number, and e-mail address on a slip of paper and sticking it in a box, but I am sure it will pay off eventually.

Now, some more info on your first day as a temp, dished up hot and smelly:


Once you arrive at your new position, you will be "shown" what to "do." The person training you will assume, since you've been there for three minutes, that you know absolutely all the information about the company's policy and history, that you have your own password for the computer, and that you know your way to "Skip's" office. You won't know any of this. You won't even know who "Skip" is, or whether or not he has an office. Or chronic gas.


Find out where the photocopier is, and avoid it at all costs, because it hates you. It can sense temps, and you will be able to hear it's paper jamming and crunching as soon as you approach. Of course, advances in copier technology have fixed this problem, so some of the newer models will instead silently jettison their toner supply in the middle of your copy session. Good advice: If you need to copy a document, just take it back to your computer and retype it.


Your computer hates you too. Maybe you should just recopy it with pencil and paper.


Why take chances? Just throw the document away and, if asked, tell them you gave it to "Skip."


Also known as the Seventh Level of Hell, the break room is to be avoided at all costs.  It is drab, dull, smells like stale popcorn, and invariably filled with women discussing, at full volume, how their teenage children just aren't doing as well in school as they could be.  Also, if you're lucky, a television made in the 1930's broadcasting, at full volume, Jenny Jones (show #311A:  My Girlfriend is a Lyin' Hootchie-Mama!!!).


For reasons we've just covered, don't eat your lunch in the break room.  Run away.  Visit the local cafť or patisserie where you might enjoy a light repast of turkey, sliced electron-thin, on crumbly, multi-grained bread with sprouts, sunflower mustard, and carrot shavings.  Wash it down with a thimble of mineral water or, if you're feeling risquť, a small bottle of Hawaiian Red Nectar Raspberry Cream Wheat Honey Ale.  It's only 23.65 (no dollar signs on this menu), served promptly to your table, which has the surface area of a cufflink, in just three short hours.

Smug: It's What's For Lunch.


At some point during the day, your agent will call you to see how you're doing.  You may hear some snickering in the background as you lie and tell your agent the job is fine and you like it a lot.  If you do mention a problem or personality conflict, your agent will inform you cheerily that the last temp they placed there is still undergoing trauma therapy, and that they will have someone to replace you in no less than six weeks.



7-25-00 - First Daze

It seems that every temp I meet these days is on their first assignment.  That's cute.  They've never done this before, don't know what to expect, really, and it always occurs to me that I should impart some of my hard-earned wisdom to them.  Then it occurs to me that I have no hard-earned wisdom.  Then it occurs to me that I don't even have any lazily-earned wisdom.  Then it occurs to me that they are much better looking than I am, and I begin plotting their demise.

Any-hoo, I've assembled a little blather of info that every temp should know before he or she starts their first day of temporary employment.  I'm going to stretch this out over two days, to make it look like I'm working harder on this than I really am (and that's a tip in itself).


First, a word about your temp agent, the person who will find you temporary positions at crappy companies. The basic principle you need to understand about your agent is this: your agent hates you. This simple fact will come to answer many of the questions you will soon have, such as:

1) Why did my agent only give me ten minutes notice about my new assignment?

2) Why didn't my agent inform me that I would need specific skills at my new assignment, such as the ability to operate a local area network or a forklift?

3) Why did my agent kick me extremely hard in the groin area?

See, it all makes sense now.


Even with few or no details, you know a lot about the job you will be doing. Namely, that it sucks. Let me say that again, because it is somewhat important. Your job sucks.

How do you know this, even before you enter the workplace? Well, if the job was great, someone else would be doing it, wouldn't they? Oh, sure, your agent said someone was out sick for the day, but you know they are just home watching TV, completely healthy. They just hate their job. Sure, the receptionist is on maternity leave. Well, why did she get pregnant in the first place? Hmmm? Because she wanted a child? Come on, people, even an idiot can see through this simple ruse. Her job sucks so much that she'd rather produce smelly, shrieking offspring than show up for work. First thing to remember: if it was a good job, the person you are replacing wouldn't leave in the first place. You should intuitively know this about any position you have been called to fill.

Note: If your agent describes the office or business as "high-energy," you know its really going to suck.


Directions have undoubtedly been given to you by your agent, who makes bets with fellow agents about who can get their temps the most lost. When they call you in the morning, they will speak incredibly quickly, never repeat their directions the same way twice, and often give you helpful descriptions such as: "It's in a tall building downtown."

Note: If they use the term "business park" hang up and go back to sleep.


Unless you enjoy sitting around in a dark lobby at dawn with a receptionist who was born in the mid-eighteenth century, I would suggest taking your time in the morning. Arrive one to two hours late. If you show up right when people are arriving to work, they will not have time to drink coffee and play computer solitaire, instead having to show you where the food-caked company microwave is and explain the quirks of the toilet in the men's room. They will resent this intrusion into their morning rituals and will make you share a cubicle with a guy who has chronic gas.


You will have the name of your contact person, also given to you by your agent, which means the name will be wrong. The person you ask for will not be there, will be out sick, or most likely, not even exist in the company at all. I suggest asking for "Todd," because every company has at least one and he's more than likely the jerk will have to share an office or desk with anyway. He may or may not have gas.


You will be introduced to roughly six hundred thousand million people, all who look alike and have similar sounding names. "This is Melody, Melanine, Melinda, Melissa, Marlena, Myrlene, Madeline, and Todd.


You will be shown to a desk. They may even say, "This is your desk!" But make no mistake: This is not your desk. I cannot stress this fact enough, mostly because I named my friggin' website after it.

Don't look at the yellowed Born Loser comic strips tacked to the wall, don't read the fortune-cookie fortunes taped to the computer monitor, don't drink from the mug that has INSTANT HUMAN:  Just add coffee!!! stenciled on the side and whatever you do, don't look at the Anne Geddes cards of infants dressed like eggplants. 

It will be difficult, believe me, I know. But you must resist or you may suddenly feel that you deserve your own desk, one you can decorate with pictures of your family or your pets or your pet's family. Your own desk where you can tack up a letter your nephew was forced to write, thanking you for the reindeer sweater you sent him for Christmas, or attach the magnetic statue of David you can dress up in different magnetic outfits, or display Todd the accountant's latest wacky e-mail joke of the day (he's so funny!).

A desk where you can change the computer screensaver to say things like Are we having fun yet? or Is it Friday yet? or Can I go home yet? A desk you can crawl under and say, "There's that darn pen!" or "There's that darn invoice!" or "There's that darn petty cash I accused Johnson of stealing that led to him being fired and the subsequent hostage situation!" 

A desk where you can label the trashcan Suggestions or stand one of those revolting troll dolls or hang that wacky photocopy of Todd's face (he's really funny!). And if you can do all that with just a desk, just think what you can do with your own cubicle! Why, you can hang a colorful shower-curtain over the entrance or keep a beach ball in it or cover the walls with pictures of George Clooney or Nicole Kidman or Shar-Peis (they're so cute!). You can post cartoons from Dilbert's page-a-day calendar, since you're the only one in the office who has one. You can get mad when someone borrows your chair because you've set the armrests to the height you need. You can have a gumball machine. Magnetic poetry. A coffee warmer. A nose pencil sharpener.  A cover for your mouse that looks like a real mouse(!). You will begin to live, and not just work, in your cubicle, and the next thing you know you will be retiring with full benefits and a fat 401-K, and building your dream house in southern California. 

And no one wants that.



7-23-00 - Linkin' Logs

If you're looking for Women's Week, it has been moved to its own special spot in the archives.  Click here to check out an entire week of content devoted to female temps.

In other news, while checking the traffic logs for Not My Desk the other day, I noticed some startling facts.

First of all, the most common search engine that leads people here is Yahoo.  And what keywords were people searching for that led them here?

For nearly every week in the past two months, the number one keyword search that brought up a link to this site was "office whores."  That's right.  Office whores.  While I certainly welcome any new visitors, it seems to me that if you got here by typing "office whores" into Yahoo, you're probably a little disappointed at what you've found.

Some other popular keyword searches that brought visitors, unerringly, to this site in weeks past:

"nosehair trimmer"
"hardcore pornographic movies"
"breasts shirts"
"naked in the office"
"great temp agency"
"infant nude"
"starting a cookie business"
"painful armpit"

Most of these ring a bell as being something mentioned in passing, with the exception of "great temp agency".  I am quite sure those words, in that order, do not appear anywhere on this site.

"Infant nude" was a bit of precognitive work by Yahoo, in a way, since Yahoo was directing people looking for naked babies here before I even posted Friday's pictures.


Some other, less popular keyword searches that brought up a link to this site include the words "painful hiccupping", "loud hiccupping", "women with hiccups", "french wine list", "temp agencies suck", "eyebrow dandruff", and "fart frrrp".

"Fart frrrp"?  One of the essays does indeed include a lot of farting and frrrping, but it seems like an odd thing to search for.  At any rate, I think I'll stop checking the traffic logs for a while.  

There are some things I just don't want to know.

Coming up this week:

Short vs. Long Term Temping:  Which is better?  A close look at the pros and cons of both.

First Daze:  Gearing up for your first temping assignment?  Don't step out the door without taking a look at what your first day as a temp might be like.

Painful Hiccupping:  An in-depth look at a terrible, much ignored medical condition.





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