I got a temp gig that I’m working for a couple of weeks. There seems to be a vague possibility that it could last longer than that, and some brief mentions of that at the job, but it’s all up in the air as of right now. The agency I’ve been signed up with for more than a year got me this gig – the first one through them. There was a rush to complete a ton of paperwork, and I had to take my passport in to an office and prove I was me before they could formally assign me the job, but it all worked out. It’s proofing and editing work, which is very much my jam. Today I got to write something small, and nobody came and yelled at me about it not being good enough or how it was “unfair” they had to rewrite it because I didn’t write it the way the person wanted. They just accepted it and sent it to the graphic designer and said to put it in where it goes. That was refreshing.
After only three days on the job I am beginning to realize how very long it is has been since I worked anywhere where things were…normal. Where you were treated like a human person, not a superhero or a damaged, broken piece of shit, but someone who is simply coming in every day trying to do their best work, and then leave at the end of the day and go home. I have had many jobs like this, though they were very long ago now.
I dressed up the first day. The assignment email said it was business casual so I wore a nice dress and new, pretty, high wedge sandals (and painful shapewear, because the dress fit better last year, before peri-menopause hit). I was the most overdressed person there, which I was happy to discover, and toned it way down the last two days. Yesterday a woman in my department actually had a T-shirt on that I also own, from Kohl’s. These are my people – suburban moms and the like.
What’s been amazing is that they seem to actually just assume I know exactly how to do the work for which I was hired. Which, I mean, I do. It’s editing things like big, very detailed catalogs and product labels and stickers, and ads and stuff. I did this type of thing up the wazoo at my old job and, because I was the only proofreader for most projects, had to get very, very, very good at catching my own mistakes, and going over everything twice. I have caught a couple of real doozies already, about which I am quite proud. My tools are simple: a red pen, a ruler, a magnifying glass, and a black pen to sign off on job sheets once I am done. A few post-its, in case I need to note something but don’t want it on the actual copy.
The challenge with this work is the company’s designers are actually very good. It’s easier to catch mistakes when there are a lot of them. But when you are looking at teeny tiny numbers and letters and comparing them to database numbers and letters and checking and checking and checking and 99% of them are correct – it’s that 1% you have to look out for. I’ve found only a few UPC codes that were listed incorrectly and double checked myself to make sure I was right and they were actually printed wrong. I give my changes to the designers and they just … make them.
It’s a very high volume of work in what is generally a very laid back company, which is a combination that works well for me. I can process an enormous amount of work if I am just left alone in my dark corner (and it is dark there – most of the overhead lights seem to not work in my section, but I have a light under my workstation that illuminates what I’m looking at well enough). As long as I am allowed to feed and water myself and make waste without having to ask permission, I am a pretty fucking good and solid employee. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve worked like this. Comfortable clothing (but still nice), left alone for long stretches of time. Work heaped on me, but I am trusted to complete it correctly, and brief breaks with little conversation. I don’t know these people, and they don’t know me, so it works out. The main person I’m helping out today is taking some time off next week, which is why I’m there – to ramp up so I can do their job when they are gone. They said, you have to take breaks every hour or so. The detail of the work can get to you. Yeah, I said, I got that, and have been making sure to get up and get water, use the bathroom, go drop off work in the tray, whatever. But there are worse jobs, of course, I told them. Like being a crab fisherman in Alaska. They thought that was really random so then I told them all about the Deadliest Catch, which they had never heard of, and they were fascinated.
The company had a picnic for employees today, which is very nice, and invited the temps to join, which is even nicer. I didn’t have much to offer in the conversation at my table as I didn’t really know anyone, but honestly, I didn’t mind at all. I happily ate, enjoyed the outside and the free food, and went back to my cubicle and my big papers and my ruler and my magnifying glass. And my iPod, which nobody objects to me listening to as there are two other people that have headphones on, and another girl who plays the radio softly, so music is PERMITTED. Unlike at other jobs I’ve had, where I’ve been told that closing my door (so I could concentrate) makes me seem “inaccessible” or that using headphones while I’m working makes it seem like “I don’t want to talk to anyone.” Well, I DON’T, but I’m listening to music because my work is very detailed and can be tough and it helps keep me focused. It’s not about YOU.
There is another person in my department who is also here through my agency. They have been here off and on for the better part of a year because there is a lot of work, and hiring people as-needed through an agency can work well for the company since there’s no headcount added, no benefits to have to pay someone, and no wasted time with them sitting around when big projects are over. This is a lot of how companies work now. If the assignment is over in a couple of weeks, that was cool, and maybe they’ll ask me back. If, as has been hinted at, it continues on a couple weeks more because there is seriously an ENORMOUS amount of work, that’s cool too.
It’s been an enormous adjustment for me though, getting back to a work routine. Up the same time every day. Makeup every day. A BRA every day. But nobody is making anti-trans comments or telling me I’m a horrible person because I don’t want a dog like has happened at previous jobs I’ve had, so that’s nice.
I am more exhausted than I can remember being when I get home. I don’t have the kid this week, which is nice, but I don’t know how I’m going to get it together to make dinner for him every night next week. I will come up with something, but there will be more shortcuts taken and probably more nights of soup and sandwich for him than I would like. I’m also drinking a ton more coffee, which is not agreeing with the old GI system, but I’ll just eat more Meta wafers and hope for the best.
I still have work from my freelance clients too. One has been put off for a couple of weeks, but the other, I have outstanding assignments due this week and next – PowerPoints, blog posts, webpage text. It’s very hard to take a dinner break at home, change clothes, and come back to the computer and do more work, but I’m doing it because I need the goddamned money and I have to dig out of this hole and maybe this is my chance to do that. I hope they keep me for a longer period of time.
Hell, I hope they hire me.
I walk around the halls of this place and feel like, “I could retire from here after another 15 years, yeah.” I don’t know why I have that feeling. I am being open to it instead of shutting it down. What if it DOES work out, you know? Who knows what the future holds. For now, I am valued, making an important contribution, and am not being yelled at or stressed out all the time while cranking work that I am good at, and that’s a good thing, even if I am tired. Even if it’s all over in two weeks.
It’s time to have some wine and watch Vikings now. I have a long day tomorrow.