Friday, October 28, 2011

Now that was awkward

As I've mentioned, this project is coming to an end. We had cuts last weekend that let go about half the temps here, and there are more cuts going around tonight, although I don't know how many people will be gone in the morning. I just know I'm not one of them, and in the Darwinian world that is Temp Town, I don't give a shit how many people got cut as long as I am still working. Call me insensitive. I don't care. In fact, I revel in my insensitivity and suggest you refer to the title of the blog.

Anyway, I really like the agency I am working with, and don't mind the law firm we're working for. (Important footnote: working offsite as we are -- at the agency's space, not at the law firm's offices -- it is hard to tell much about whether a law firm is good to work for. Get closer, work in their office, and familiarity may breed contempt.) So I had very mixed feelings when I was offered the chance to "roll over" to another project with the same agency working for the same firm. Knowing that the end was near, I had already taken steps to find a gig for next week and beyond, and was awaiting word on whether my efforts had been successful. When the rollover offer came yesterday, I was still awaiting word. Then I found out that the rollover project would be on-site -- at the firm's offices. In the last couple years, I have developed a rule that I violate only when there is no other work available and my choices are take the gig or starve: never take a gig that involves working in the law firm's office. I'll get into why later.

Like I said, I like this agency and have no problems with this law firm. Nonetheless, I turned down the rollover offer, even though I had nothing firm for when this ends. It was a little like going on a date with someone, having tumultuous sex, they say "Hey, let's do this again tomorrow" and you say, "Actually, I'm hoping to hear from someone else about tomorrow." Not sure how that is going to float with this agency. They said "no problem," but it is important to remember what I said way back when: they're lying. I guess we'll see.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Time for goodbye food

Yeah, looks like the agency is going to bring in lunch for us tomorrow. For the uninitiated, that means don't let the door slap you in the ass on the way out. Sunday should be the end of the line. In the meantime, the project hours are now 15 hours a day. Quality is our business, baby.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I hate when that happens

The project is winding down, so naturally it's time to let people go. Yesterday, probably two-thirds of the folks on the project  got the boot. Now, because of one thing and another, it looks like -- whoops! -- we don't have enough warm bodies to finish by our deadline. The firm is scrambling to see who they can bring back for a day or two to help out, but the market is hot and anybody who is any good already found another gig. Imagine the top-notch talent we can look forward to returning. Me, I can hardly wait.

Get the balloons and noisemakers ready

Rocking along toward 5,000 hits. Should happen in November. Get ready for the party.

Netherlands surging

The Dutch have move past the Germans into second place, behind the US, as the country of origin for readers of this blog. Probably some kind of robot search, but still, I'll take it. Latvia moving up, too. Canada? Fuck Canada. Some fucking neighbors they turned out to be. If anyone out there knows a Canadian, tell them their national honor is on the line.

Friday, October 21, 2011

That time again

All too quickly, this gig is already winding down. We'll be done by Nov. 1 at the latest, and most folks on this project will probably be done Sunday. Some of them don't know it yet. Some do and are looking for new work. Nice business to be in.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hamlet had it easy

Sure, he was dealing with existential questions -- you can't get much more basic than debating whether you should continue "to be" -- but Hamlet never worked with temps.  So while Hamlet did his balancing act -- on the one hand, kill Claudius, on the other hand, can't handle the angst that accompanies deciding to kill Claudius, so maybe kill himself instead -- the results of his decision would be readily apparent. Either Claudius would be dead, or he would be. Turned out pretty much fricking everybody was dead before it was all over, but now I digress. Hamlet, for all the weighty decisions he faced, never had to deal with the forced familiarity of Temp Town.

As I've explained, I don't bother with learning temps' names, because the project will be over in a matter of days or weeks, and I will either see them again or I won't, and I don't much care which. I don't make arrangements to "stay in touch," or get together later, or whatever. We work in the same room by chance; we are not friends. Granted, there are some temps with whom I am friends and keep in touch, but they are the exception. In any event, I do not pretend to be buddies simply because we are working on the same project. I put on my headphones, ignore you, and click. I don't pretend the relationship extends beyond mere proximity.

Alas, many, many, many, MANY temps act like being in the same room makes us BFFs. They presume a familiarity that is not there, and, worse, they act on it. They will cheerfully ask questions about your personal life without concern for whether it is any of their business, or share details of their own as if you wanted to know. This leads us to the dilemma, silence or rudeness. Frankly, I am inclined to go with rudeness.

Example one: there is a woman on this project who feels compelled to ask questions about by experiences outside the workplace that, while often trivial, are none of her business. The other day, I came in later than usual (actually, much later, since she was already there, and I usually get there about an hour before her), and she promptly greeted me with questions about whether I got caught up in the Metro fuck-up of the day. Because I do not consider the reasons behind my time of arrival any of her business, I simply pretended to be deaf and ignored her questions. Unfortunately, I have done this with her before, and it doesn't work.

The failure of the silent treatment always makes the nuclear option more attractive: don't be silent, be rude. Having used the silent treatment on the first temp, the second temp who got inquisitive got nuked. I walked into our work room, leaving Nosy Temp 1 out in the hall, only to have Nosy Temp 2 say, "Good morning. Get caught up in the Red Line mess?" I'm afraid my response might have gone for a little shock and awe. I looked at her with my best dogshit-on-the-bottom-of-my-shoe expression and said, "You have no evidence it is a good morning and there actually is a lot of evidence to the contrary, but please, believe whatever you like." I sat down, put on my headphones and started clicking. I truthfully have no idea what her or anyone else's reaction was. I ignored them. While it is easy for an outsider to claim that rudeness is not appropriate in the face of what is arguably routine, mindless small talk, outsiders have not experienced the utter inanity that Temp Town small talk encompansses. You've got to nip that shit in the bud.

Sure, call me misanthropic, call me nasty, call me whatever. You can also call me "that guy in the corner who nobody talks to," which is exactly what I want. Rude 1, Silence 0. Second half action after this.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

It's almost like she wants something

This is a story about a typically passive-aggressive temp, her attempt to improve her own situation while trying to appear concerned about others, and my effort to give her a big Eff You without actually mouthing the words. All things considered, I believe I have been more successful in achieving my goals than has she.

 Is that grammatically correct, or does it just sound pretentious while not actually following any rules of grammar? And would that sentence have sounded less pretentious had I simply added "so fuck her."?
Whatevs. The project I am on is in a review space divided among several rooms, most of them not large, one of them big. I don't care about the other rooms, of course, so this is about my room. But you should have expected that by now. If not, please refer to the title of the blog.

So, the room I am in is set up for 12 people. The desks are all facing the walls, so the seats are arrayed according to the length of each wall. It's not evenly distributed for a variety of reasons, but the four walls are set up like this: the room is a rectangle, with the door at the bottom left corner. When you enter the door, hard on your left is a short wall with two stations set up. Directly in front of you is a long wall, but also with two stations. Windows, pillars and shit play into this arrangement. To your far right is a short wall with four stations, and along the wall in which the door is set, to your hard right, is the other long wall with four stations. Got it? Good. I was afraid you weren't visual-spatial.

The walls that concern us are the 4-station short wall to the right which forms an L-shape with the four-station long wall to the hard right. I am seated at the joint of the L facing the long wall on the hard right, the wall in which the door is set. To my right are three more stations, then the door. To my left is the short wall that forms the lower leg of the L, with its four stations all behind me to my left. Got it? Good. I was afraid you weren't visual-spatial and that I would have to smack the shit out of you.

The woman who sits immediately behind me/to my left, at the L-joint on the short wall, is starting to piss me off. The station to her left is not occupied, and she and her short-wall cohorts have gotten rid of that chair and spread out some, giving themselves more room. This is what temps do.

Not content with that, however, she has taken to working the room in an effort to gain even more space for herself. Yeah, she probably could use it. Just sayin'. But that's not what we're talking about.

What we are talking about is the fact that one of the four stations on my row is empty, so this old goat keeps saying things like, " Oh, you should get rid of that chair, then you'd have more room." She's already said a variation of that three times in four days, making it clear that she's not saying we could have more room, but that if only we would take advantage of that empty space and scoot down, she could have more room.

Classic temp behavior, of course. Should I kill her, or simply take comfort in not moving and knowing that she so desperately wants me to move? It's been difficlut, but so far I have pretended to have no clue what she's driving at.
 Needless to say, it has been difficult to suppress the audible "eff you" that she so richly deserves. Perhaps next time she makes the suggestion.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Relax, Francis

Gotta love a good Stripes reference. In any event, no need to start gnashing teeth and rending garments over the death of this blog. Not happening, at least not today or in the foreseeable future. There will eventually be a post about what raised the possibility, but not now.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Danger, Will Robinson!

The possibility exists that this blog will come to a precipitous end. I will not share why at this point. I'm not even sure if it's a good thing or not. So stay tuned.

You can't always get what you want

In this business, overtime is king. A 40-hour week is slow starvation, and the more overtime, the better. It's like union work without the dues and thugs. Merit doesn't matter, but if you put in the hours, you get paid. Any union pukes out there who don't like that characterization need to look around. Think you're better at your job than the guy next to you? Who fucking cares? You get paid the same, unless you work more overtime. So don't cry to me, Argentina. But I digress.

Yesterday, the firm told us that they would be expanding the hours, adding two hours a night. That's a good boost if you can take it all, since even just weekdays that's 10 hours a week extra at time and a half. This is a good thing. So, not surprisingly, Ice Queen (the old bag fucking with the thermostat) utters an excited "Yes!" Nevermind that she comes in an hour after we open. And, naturally, she left that night, not at our new closing time of  10, not at our old closing time of 8, but at 6:40. And she didn't come in at all today. For some people, the mere prospect of extra overtime is enough. They apparently don't have to actually work it to get excited about the potential for extra money. I will never understand temps.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Personal space

It's interesting how much the space in which you are working can affect how you feel about any given gig in TempTown. There are the obvious downers, such as computers too close together, bad temperature control -- although in my opinion, this includes only when it is too warm. If it's cold, put a sweater on. When it's hot -- and that's usually the problem -- you can't take your clothes off. You'll get fired. And most of you, I don't want you to take your clothes off. Nonetheless, there is always some sack of shit, usually an older woman, but always a woman, who wants to fuck with the thermostat, and trust me, they are not trying to make it cooler. The room we're in on my new project is perfectly comfortable, 11 people happy with it and one sack of shit over there fucking with the thermostat. Yes, she wants it warmer and yes, she's in this room even though on the first day one of the agency people pointed out the warmest room to sit in "if anyone tends to get cold." Did our thermostat-fucker go to that room? No. I think passing on the warm room and then jacking with the thermostat is punishable by death, but, once again, the District of Columbia's oppressive gun laws stand in the way of justice. But I digress.

No, you expect it to be crowded, you expect the temperature to be higher or lower than you would like. Veterans don't really even notice these things. And while veterans notice it, they expect some jackhole to unilaterally mess with the thermostat even if everybody else is happy with the temperature. No, I'm talking about the things that can't be changed, the things that vary from one work site to another, the things that determine whether a job is tolerable or not. The things that are the difference between a project that is OK and one where somebody is going postal.

Yeah, baby, I'm talking about radio reception, internet access and cell phone signal.

First, don't tell me to get an Ipod. If I want to listen to AM talk radio, or even FM music, that's what I want to do.  An Ipod won't change that (unless I want day-late podcasts, which I don't, so don't play the Luddite card on me, emeffer). Yes, I can bring CDs on many projects, so that would take care of music even in the absence of an Ipod, but I actually prefer news and sports radio, so radio reception is key.

Internet access should be a no-brainer. Of course I want it. Most project don't allow it. They figure (rightly) that you will spend too much time fucking off surfing and not enough time coding documents. For those of us capable of sprint and drift (code a bunch of documents quickly and correctly, then surf for a bit), lack of web access is particularly irritating, since we are paying for the sins of temps who can't balance access to the outside world with the requirements of the job.

Finally, there's cell phone signal. A stunning number of buildings in DC have crappy cell phone reception. Sometimes, though, this goes to the extreme. The project I just left was in a space where there was no cell phone reception. Text messages, voice mails, everything came through hours later. Plust you were forced to wander the neighborhood (OK, leave the building) to make an outgoing call. Serious pain in my butt.

In any event, I would hope that anyone would understand how these three things can affect your view of a project. My last project had no cell reception, very limited internet (meaning the filter sometimes didn't work and you could break free, at least briefly, into the great wide open) and no FM reception. No wonder I hated it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Doc review bingo

Early on in this blog, I stressed for my readers that there is one thing you must always remember about agencies: they're lying. Maybe intentional, maybe just because of lack of information and the temps want some kind of answer. I don't care why. I just know that this is the first rule when dealing with agencies. Some temps apparently do not understand this and get into a state of high dudgeon (how's that shit for your vocabulary word of the day!) when it becomes apparent that they have, indeed, been lied to. This point always comes in every project; it is rare to come on the first day, and early on the first day, at that. Such is what happened on my new project.

We were told in being recruited for this project that it would last two months. That's pretty good in this business. I never believe it. Cut the time estimate in half, and you're probably in the ballpark. So at about lunchtime, one of the associates from the firm was talking to us and mentioned that they would like to wrap this up by Nov. 1, and preferably within 2 or 3 weeks. As an aside, this is a government investigation of a merger. Without getting particular, when I saw dates on certain documents, I knew that the firm would want to be pretty much done in about two weeks, as that is when a statutory deadline would arrive. Throw in a little clean-up work, you're talking three weeks, maybe as late as Nov. 1. So I was not caught by surprise by the associate's announcement.

Several temps in the room were. Even before the associate left the room, three or four of them were just going off about how they were told two months, they were lied to, they would have to reconsider taking this project, they turned down longer-term offers for this, blah blah blah blah blah. The associate, a little embarrassed, left. Then things got really good. They started spouting off about how temps have no rights, they should sue agencies for lying about projects, temps should unionize, more blah blah blah blah blah. That was when the temp down the row from me said, "You know about Doc Review Bingo?" and the four of us on the row I'm on just laughed.

Doc Review Bingo refers to topics that will come up with some dumbass temp on every project. Such as how temps have no rights, we should sue agencies for lying and temps should unionize. As soon as some moron comes forth with one of the old standards, it's as if the caller said 0-64: "Temps should unionize. Bingo!"   Days like this make me believe we deserve our fate.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sometimes, you gotta shoot the swordfish

I pulled the trigger today. Unlike previous Tuesdays, we got a mealy-mouthed horseshit answer today when one of the other folks on the project asked if we were going beyond this week. Don't know, we were told, maybe could be we'll see. So I accepted another project starting tomorrow that we hope will be more interesting, blog material-wise. Gave about 2 hours notice -- Hey, last day here, sorry, thanks for all the fish -- with no explanation. Shouldn't be a problem considering how much longer this project lasted beyond expectations. Maybe I should have lied, killed another grandmother, but the recruiting director for the agency on this project is an old friend of mine -- hell, we were roommates third year of law school -- and I knew he would know I was lying. He texted me later to ask what project I landed on. The market is on fire right now, and he knew I was bailing for something else. Seemed OK with it. Anyway, time to go on to something else. One of the guys on the project who is relatively new to this business asked if I thought it would be interesting and what I would be doing. Hello????? I'll be clicking. It's all about the clicking.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Another Tuesday?

Frankly, I grow weary of waiting for Tuesday to learn whether this project will continue for another week. No doubt tomorrow will bring yet another email letting us know that there is at least one more week's worth of work for us. I no longer care. I went ahead and made plans to move to another project. There was jsut too much work out there to pass up. All I have to do now is tell the agency and the firm. Normally, I am a big proponent of lying. Hey, my mom is dying, gotta go. No telling how many times you can kill your mom to get out of a project. Grandmothers are better, credibility-wise, as they are more likely to be dying and you have two of them. Personally, I have killed six or seven grandmothers to get out of projects. End of the day, most agencies want to be lied to; they pretend to believe you as you pretend to be telling the truth. Normally, if you say that you're leaving because this project will be dead any day regardless, most agencies will view you as disloyal and not hire you ever again -- or, at least, for a respectable mourning period. Some agencies -- damn few, mind you -- don't mind the truth. In a situation like this, where the project has been week-to-week for two months, the agency I am working with probably won't mind the truth, so that's what I'll go with. I'll let you know how that works out.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Last chance to be a trendsetter

Canada is rapidly becoming in danger of being a bandwagon-jumper instead of a trendsetter. Hong Kong has graced us with a visit, while our neighbors to the north continue to pretend this blog does not exist. Fine. And when Canada finally drops by, folks in Germany, Switzerland, Latvia, Russia, India and half a dozen other countries will say, Oh, you are so five minutes ago. I guess the Canadians are too busy trying to stuff a mouse in their beer. Yeah, the reference is dated, but it's still sweet. Take off!