I get the
call this morning at about 10:30 from my agency: It seems Wham-O™,
maker of the Frisbee®, is in need of a Receptionist©! Just for
the afternoon, anyway. The rate I'm offered is abysmal, plus, it's
over in Emeryville, which is a pain since I'll have to take a bus, a
train, and then another bus, and they want me there by noon. All
for a mere four or five hours of work. Still, it's Wham-O™!
I gotta go! I gotta!
the agency figures I get up every morning at 6:00am, eat breakfast,
shower, shave, get fully dressed for work, and then sit by the phone,
because they always seem mildly surprised that I'm not quite ready to
dash out the door when they call. Still, I tell them I will do my
best to be there by noon, I hang up, stick my head under the shower,
gouge the crust out of my eyes, slap on some clothes, and then
dash out the door.
ride to the train is uneventful, but at the train station, there's only
one working ticket machine. I fidget and groan while I wait in
line, as the people in front of me, confronted by the baffling words
"INSERT MONEY IN BIG SLOT" over a BIG SLOT, gawk helplessly,
unsure of how to purchase a ticket. Finally, it's my turn, but
just as I cram a ten-dollar bill (I didn't have any singles) into the
machine, my cell-phone rings. Multi-tasking, I push "GET
TICKET" with one hand while flipping open the phone with the other.
It's my agent on the horn.
pops out just as my agent informs me that Wham-O™, as it turns out,
does not need a receptionist for the day, after all. Crap.
you can go home, or if you're already on your way, you can still show up
there, and they said they'd find something for you to do."
like to go home, because the phrase "we'll find something
for you to do" holds about as much dread for me as "I don't
like the looks of that pulsing tumor attached to your spinal
column." On the other hand, I want to see Wham-O™!
Plus, I need the paycheck, especially since I just put ten bucks on my
train ticket. So, I tell her I'd still like to go to work.
twenty minutes later, I get off the train and try to find the correct
bus to take me to the office. It's about 11:45, so I figure I
still have a good chance of getting there by noon. Not that that's
really important, I guess, since they don't need me. The bus
arrives, and as I'm stepping on board, I ask the driver if she goes down
Christie Street, where Wham-O™ is located.
shrugs. "Mmm... yeah," she says, as if she just decided
it might be a possibility.
careful when bus drivers are like this. They may have no idea if
they go down the street you ask for, or more often, they know
they go down it, but the shrug means "eventually."
They omit the fact that you may get there faster on another bus, or a
bus going in the other direction, or by walking on your hands.
Chances are, they'll get you to your street, but only after they've
driven you, for hours, to all sorts of awful places first, like so:
this doesn't happen! We get to Christie Street just fine.
So, um, I guess you can just ignore the picture.
I get off
the bus and look at the address I've written down: 7401 Christie.
The building directly ahead of me is 7907, so I start walking.
About a quarter-mile later, Christie Street dead-ends at a massive
construction site. The lowest number I've passed: 7600.
back-track, thinking I must have missed something. I walk almost
all the way back to the bus stop, then turn around, baffled, and head
back towards the construction site again, hoping it will either be
magically gone, or at least that they'll have erected some new
buildings, possibly one of them numbered 7401. No such luck.
maybe the road continues on the other side of the site? I dunno.
It must. I skitter past several large signs warning me of
"Falling Debris" and "Massive Head Injuries" and
"Dynamite Explosion Zones" and "Surly Construction
Workers". I ponder the idea of being lost on the way to an
office where I don't even need to be in the first place. It's
absurd. And here I am, risking grave injury from falling objects
and dump trucks driving in reverse and big, sweaty men? For a job
that doesn't even require me to show up?
in the middle of the construction site, I break down and call my agent
don't see the building?" she asks.
don't think they've built it yet," I tell her.
shows up as a valid address," she says. "7901
"I had it as 7401."
it looks like somebody can't read their own handwriting!" she
laugh. It's a 4, plain as day. She gave it to me wrong.
So, I head
back, blisters forming on my feet by this point, and sure enough,
there's 7901 and Wham-O™(!), about twenty feet from the same bus stop
I arrived at almost an hour ago. It's now nearly 1:00pm. How
embarrassing. I'm an hour late for a job I don't have.
I walk in,
and meet the woman who had initially placed the temp order, and then
cancelled it. Our conversation is brief, brisk, and quite
cheerful, for some odd reason. It goes something like this:
I say. "I'm Chris, the temp you don't need today!"
she says, "I'm Cathy!"
hands. We're pleased to meet each other!
you have anything for me to do?" I ask.
really," she says. "Do you want to just go home?"
I say. "Nice meeting you!"
meeting you too!" she says.
hell. Not a bad job, really, if you think about it. I didn't
screw anything up, I didn't have to deal with phones or customers or
paperwork. Sure, I didn't get a chance to loot the office, and
what a great office it would have been to loot. It's Wham-O™!
Sure, I didn't have time to make friends, but I didn't have time to make
enemies, either. And, dammit, it was nice meeting
her. All in all, it's been the best temp job I've ever had.
the next time you don't need a temp," I say to Cathy as I head out
the door, "Please keep me in mind!"