A week and I still have a job. I won’t lie – I’m not happy about it. Being in an office again makes me feel angry and stifled, completely unhappy. But this was something I had to do, mostly because Henry is MEAN and made me, and I’m only working half days so I shouldn’t complain. I have no RIGHT to complain.
Prior to this, I had been looking for evening work, like my last two jobs. I’m not lucky enough to have anyone who will watch my son for me so I can get a full time daylight job and I refuse to put him in daycare because my luck, it will be one of those fly by night ones that wind up as a breaking report on the nightly news because the proprietors are using it as a drug front.
But things started to get tight around here and Henry was like, “Look, just get a job, any job. Don’t worry about the shift; I’ll figure it out.”
So when the temp agency offered this particular job to me, Henry said it was OK that I’d be working daylight, that he’d adjust his schedule at work so that he could just work around me.
He’s been leaving here around 2:30AM every morning, and coming home by 6:30AM so I can leave. Then when I come home, he goes back to work. Except that he sends me texts throughout the morning, saying things like, “[My boss] scheduled a truck for 1:30 this afternoon; when are you leaving?” So then I’m pressured, stressed and annoyed. Look, Moustache. Don’t ride my ass about getting a job, and then when I get one that SAME DAY because I’m hustla, don’t start sending me these namby pamby texts talking about “Wahhhh, I have to go back to work, when are you coming homeeeeee?”
Fuck you, you said it wouldn’t be a problem. I didn’t want to work, remember?! And now you’re making me rush through the shit I have to do and feel all panic-prone because I don’t know what time I’m going to be able to leave so that you can go back to your REAL job. (Because my job is fake and meaningless.)
I don’t know, I just feel so disheartened. I like my supervisor all right, but he acts all surprised when I get my shit done faster than he anticipated and then gets all apologetic for not having anything else for me to do, but before he could run off to find busy work for me, I reminded him that I took this job mainly because most days I’d get to leave by noon.
I mainly sit by myself in a conference room, my makeshift office with lights that shut off if I’ve been sitting too still. I have to wave my arms like an idiot to get them to recognize that a human is in there. How appropos; I’m so temporary that the LIGHT doesn’t even recognize me.
Last Friday, I was sitting there, quietly sifting through information on a stack of invoices, when two older women came in. They introduced themselves as Cindy and Cindy. When I said my name, the rotund Cindy contorted her face in a look I’ve come to known as the standardized “Am I dealing with a retard?” expression.
I repeated my name twice before she comprehended. The last time I checked, I don’t have a speech impediment, speak too quietly, or communicate in aboriginal grunts and clucks. So Rotund Cindy must be the retard.
Even though we had just gone through a round of introductions, the Cindys proceeded to talk about me as though I weren’t there. Surveying the conference room, the taller, yuppier one remarked that it would make a good place to stow the auditors when they arrive.
“The temp can just move to Karen’s old office by the kitchen,” she suggested to the fat Cindy.
“But there’s no phone in Karen’s office,” the fat Cindy pointed out.
“The temp doesn’t really need a phone, though,” Yuppy Cindy countered.
You’re right, the temp doesn’t need a phone, but hello she’s SITTING RIGHT HERE LOOKING AT YOU.
And then the other day, there was an email sent out from one of the Cindys, reminding everyone in a very uptight and pretentious syntax that all unmarked leftovers in the fridge would be discarded on Wednesday. I’m not sure which Cindy e-penned that friendly reminder, but it made me hate them both even more.
I’ve really grown to like the woman I hastily wrote off as Tina-esque (some of you might remember Tina and her skin legions, mullet and One-Uppiness from two jobs ago). I guess she’s the office manager, but she greets me cooley every morning in a teasing tone. I like that, to be teased. It makes me feel little girlish, but not in the patronized kind of way.
Today, some strange man wandered into my conference room, muttering something about how he was used to the room being full of boxes but now they’re gone. I joked that now the room was just full of me, and it took him awhile but he eventually laughed as comprehension set in. I thought at first that he was special needs, but I think he was just tired.
I can’t remember his name, but he was nice enough and reminded me that lunches are catered on Thursdays. I haven’t been there long enough in a day to eat lunch with everyone, though. It’s just as well, as all that will do is open up the awkward can. It’s bad enough being the new person, but even worse being a temp. No one really cares about temps, because why bother expending energy getting to know someone who’s just there for a few weeks. And you know, that’s unlike me to have that sort of attitude. I have always been out going at my jobs, sometimes to a fault perhaps. But being friendly and having camaraderie with co-workers has always made going to work worth it for me. Just anymore, I don’t have the energy or the drive. I just want to get in there, get my shit done and be done with this assignment. That makes me feel horrible just typing it, but it’s the truth and I don’t know how to be anything but honest.
I just feel that every time I get an office job, it sets me back so far. I will literally stop doing everything that I enjoy because I just don’t have the time or the mental energy. Maybe it’s selfish, but I would rather not have a ton of money than sacrifice doing the things that make me want me to get out of bed every day. I’m not sure that Henry understands that. Maybe he does, I don’t know. I spend so much time and energy working up to certain goals, like finally being able to take up that shop owner on her offer of a gallery showing, only to be yanked back into the bowels of another generic American office. And I can’t get ahead.
Today I came home and was able to watch a recording of the Russian Olympic hockey game, one of the few things making me happy this week, and then afterward I went to the local library and took a test to become a Census employee. My friend Stacey did it and suggested that I try it out too. It’s basically going to door-to-door to collect information from people who didn’t send in their Census.
There were eight of us in stuffy meeting room in the library. The instructor was an old man wearing a cable knit sweater. He obsessively opened and rummaged through his briefcase every few minutes. I kept wondering if he had candy in there and then my mouth got all dry because I was thinking about candy in a briefcase. Goddammit why do I think about shit like that.
You would think that the actual test would take longer than filling out the application, but no. I sat there for FORTY MINUTES while these idiots stressed out over filling in a few fucking boxes in a three page application form. It was standard shit! I can only imagine that two of them must have a lot of felonies to list because every time the instructor asked if they were finished, it was all, “No, I’m still working on this one page.”
Working on this one page? It’s a goddamn application to be a fucking Census worker, not a blueprint of the Sheik’s new skyscraping harem house.
I sat there, bounced in my seat, stared at my cuticles, and obsessively checked Words with Friends on my phone. At one point, I had a wicked flashback to the GED testing room and instantly required a bucket of cold water and a sharp slap to the face.
This seriously took forty minutes. I got there at 3:45, like the Dumbledore impressionist on the phone advised, and it was 4:25 by the time the instructor was finally able to pass out the tests and read the instructions. I laughed at how his voice went from deep and ambivalent to rehearsed and excited when he began going over the typical “Please don’t be a douchebag and cheat” spiel.
My favorite part was when he was like, “Don’t ask me any questions once testing begins. You have to figure it out by yourself” because I knew at least 3/4 of the room was silently thinking “FUCK” in their heads, and I wondered who the instructor pissed off to be punished by sitting in this depressing room and monitoring a bunch of directionless people who have nothing less to aspire to so why not try out for the fucking Census.
The fucking CENSUS.
What has my life become?
We had thirty minutes to complete twenty eight 5th grade level questions. I zipped through all of them until I got to a multiplication problem that involved three digits and DECIMALS. I had to skip it because I kept wanting to shift the number with the decimal to the right, like in addition. When I came back to it later, I remembered the correct way but proceeded to spend the remaining minutes trying to remember what the fuck was nine times seven.
9 x 7.
I had to start with 9 x 5 and then add in increments of nine, what the HELL has happened to me. There was a time when I got As in Calculus and now multiplication tables make confused spittle form in the pockets of my lips.
Oh, I got it right in the end, don’t you fret. It just took half a piece of scratch paper.