Tag Archives: temp job

Elf

Standard

It was the end of a long hot day of trying to sell hemp jewelry and shiny rocks on the side of the highway. (Total sales for the day: $36.) I was eating dinner and reading a copy of the David Sedaris collection Holidays on Ice I’d picked out of a free pile behind a thrift store.

Holidays on Ice
The first story in the collection is “SantaLand Diaries,” a memoir of the pre-Christmas season Sedaris worked as an elf in NYC’s Macy’s store. Early in the essay, Sedaris recalls how he imagined his life in the Big Apple. Of course, his life didn’t go the way of his imagination, and he writes,

But instead I am applying for a job as an elf. Even worse than applying is the very real possibility that I will not be hired, that I couldn’t even find work as an elf. That’s when you know you’re a failure.

Ouch. That hurt.

I had applied for a job as an elf some years ago. Like David Sedaris, I applied to be a Macy’s elf. Unlike Sedaris, I did not apply for elfhood in NYC.  I was in the Pacific Northwest, where I’d recently moved to live with my boyfriend in an apartment his parents had paid a deposit and a month of rent on. The boyfriend didn’t seem to be concerned about finding work (I suppose he’d had a long history of mooching off his parents), but I was scrambling to find a job, any job.

First I called Manpower, the temp service I’d worked through for three years in the medium sized Midwestern town from whence I’d come. The Manpower employment specialist (or whatever they call themselves) who took my call seemed absolutely bored. I asked him if I should go into the office to meet with someone. No need for that, he assured me. There weren’t really any jobs anyway. (No jobs? I wondered. In a major U.S. city? No temp work at all?) He said I could email my resume if I wanted to. They’d keep it on file, but there were currently no jobs.

I dutifully emailed my resume to Manpower. I never heard another word from the Manpower office.

I dutifully spent hours looking at the online employment ads. I dutifully sent off my resume any time I found a position I was even marginally qualified for.

I discovered the bowling alley near my apartment was hiring but didn’t want anyone with visible tattoos. Since when was a bowling alley so concerned about the image of its employees? I could cover my tattoos (so I dutifully sent off my resume), but it seemed like every second person in the city had visible tattoos. Maybe I’d get hired by virtue of my undecorated skin. But no. No one from the bowling alley ever contacted me for an interview.

I discovered the regional chain of convenience stores was hiring, but planned to do a credit check on all applicants. I’d never heard of a potential employer doing a credit check on a job applicant. How could a person with poor credit pay the bills if s/he couldn’t get a job because of poor credit? The no visible tattoos bowling alley tipped me off that the job market was tight, but the credit check for folks applying to work not for a bank or an accounting firm or the freaking CIA  but for a convenience store really convinced me the job market was in the employer’s favor.

I continued to read the want ads, complete online applications, send out my resume, but my phone didn’t ring and my inbox was empty. I started to grow panicky.

Then I saw it: Macy’s was hiring elves. I’d read “SantaLand Diaries,” and thought, If David Sedaris can do it, I can do it to! In fact, I was qualified for the job.

Qualification #1 I am short. I’m under 5’5”. Sedaris recognized the importance of (lack of) height to a career as an elf. Despite being pretty sure he failed his drug test,

still they hired me because I am short, five feet five inches. Almost everyone they hired is short.

If Macy’s was looking for short, they were looking for me!

Qualification #2 I’ve worked with kids. I spent my first two summers out of high school working at a camp for kids with disabilities. Sure, that had been 20 years ago, but I’d done some babysitting since then. I didn’t think kids could have changed too much, even in 20 years.

Qualification #3 I knew a thing or two about taking photos. I’d worked as the assistant to the photographer my first summer at the camp for kids with disabilities. The second summer I’d been promoted to head photographer. I was sure I could handle whatever camera system Macy’s used to take souvenir photos of kids with Santa.

Qualification #4 I’d worked in high volume, high stress retail situations before. I’d been the cashier on multiple occasions during Mardi Gras and Jazz fest at a t-shirt shop on Bourbon Street. I doubted screaming, shrieking, bawling, pissing children and their bossy, rich parents could be any worse than drunk tourists.

I dutifully answered the questions on Macy’s online elf application. I took the application very seriously. I attached my resume. I did my best. It was only a seasonal job, but it could get me through until the next employment opportunity came along.

Macy’s never contacted me, not a phone call, not an email. Nothing. Of course, not hiring me was a good move on Macy’s part because during the first week of December, my boyfriend convinced me we should ditch the apartment and travel the world on foot and via Greyhound.

Still, I was devastated. I didn’t even make the first cut for a temp job as an elf, a job I was actually qualified for.

I’d felt like a failure then, and here was David Sedaris, eight years later confirming that indeed, I’d been right.

New Old Job

Standard

Tomorrow I start a temp job. I’ve done this sort of work before, so even though I’m starting tomorrow, it’s not like I’m starting from scratch.

Here’s what I said about the job last year (http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/04/05/starting-a-new-job/),

Tomorrow I start my new temp job scoring student [responses]. Because I’ve worked this job twice before, I know that although it it is not a physically challenging job, it is mentally exhausting. I’ll spend 99% of my day sitting down, so my body won’t be worn out at the end of the day.

In the past, I’ve scored writing and reading responses. For these tests, students were given prompts, then had to write either an essay or a short answer. This year I will be scoring middle school science responses. At this point, I have no idea what that will even look like.

As I said last year, I do know that after eight hours (with 15 minute breaks in the morning and afternoon and half an hour for lunch) of reading student responses and

trying to give each one the proper score, my brain will pretty much be mush.

Work starts at 8am.  That  means I need to arrive by 7:45 so I can find a parking space (close parking is quite limited and having to park in the far parking lot means a bit of a hike to the building), put the sunblocks on the windshield, and get myself to my computer on time. Arriving at 7:45 means I should leave the house no later than 7:20, allowing myself plenty of time to get through traffic.Leaving at 7:20 means getting out of bed no later than 6:20, but 6 o’clock is probably a better idea. (I move slow in the mornings, especially if I have to cook myself some breakfast.) Out of bed by 6am and functioning well means I need to be asleep by 10pm.

However,

Sometimes when I’m working all day, I’m in bed with a book by 8pm, asleep by 9 o’clock.

I may not be able to keep up with daily blog posts. The good news (for my sanity, if not my pocketbook) is that this job is scheduled to last only 25 days. (I may or may not have the option to work on the weekends.) Also, I already have four posts scheduled.

If I miss a day, I plan to be back.

Note: This job requires a confidentiality agreement, so you won’t be reading about it here.

IMG_5470

I took this photo.

The Best Temp Job Ever

Standard

I got the best temp job I ever had off of Craigslist. I sent an email, then talked to a lady on the phone. I never went in for an interview. In fact, I think the company I was working for was in North Carolina. I was in Austin, Texas.

My job was to give out food samples at supermarkets. The company was going to send me what I needed. Whatever they didn’t send me, I would pick up at the supermarket before my shift.

It was all rather disorganized. I wasn’t told what to wear until after my first shift. By that point I realized  no one from the supermarket knew I was going to show up, much less expected me to wear any sort of uniform. The folks in North Carolina were certainly not organized enough to check up on my clothing. I wore my sweet cowgirl boots, tights, a short skirt, and whatever cute top I had at the time.

Prior to my first shift, the company shipped a large box to me. The box contained napkins and small plastic cups. Once I got to the store, I checked in with the folks at customer service (who seemed to have no idea that I was scheduled to be there that day), then went off to find the snacks and beverages I was supposed to serve. The snacks were different kinds of mixed nuts. I put the nuts into tiny plastic cups and arranged them on the table the store dug out of the stockroom for me. The beverages were a variety of flavored seltzer waters, fizzy, but not very tasty.

It was fun to offer snacks to folks. Most people were willing to try the nuts. Nuts are healthy, packed with protein, everybody knows that.

Macro Photography of Pile of 3 CookieThe real fun began with the second of my three shifts. The box that arrived at my friends’ house prior to my workday contained not only napkins and plastic cups, but also individually wrapped cookies. There were oatmeal raisin cookies and chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies. Yum!

Once I got to the store, I found the beverage customers would be sampling: a store brand bottled Frappuccino type coffee drink.

I set up my cookies and my coffee/sugar drink and waited for customers to approach. Whenever anyone came by, I asked, Would you like to try…? Many people did want to try, but a surprising number of people did not. I tend to try whatever is being given out, but if someone offers me a (full-sized) cookie, I have to remember to be polite and not yell out, Fuck Yeah! So I was a little startled whenever anyone said no thanks to my offer.

One lady actually told me, No thank you, I’m not hungry. I ask you, what does being hungry have to do with eating a cookie? (Maybe not knowing what being hungry has to do with eating a cookie explains why I am fat.) But come on…the cookies were individually wrapped. Even if she wasn’t hungry for the cookie right then, she could have taken it anyway and eaten it later.

My favorite person was the little old lady, who, when offered a choice of cookies, said she couldn’t make up her mind and asked if she could try both. YES! I was so glad she was bold enough to ask for what she wanted. I happily gave her two cookies.

After the first Saturday of cookie sample distribution, no one at the company asked how many cookies I had left or made any indication that I would have to return the leftovers. YES! I’d just just acquired at least 30 delicious cookies.

At the second (and last) cookie giveaway, I still offered cookies and coffee drink to everyone I saw, but I quit feeling personally offended when the cookies were rejected. Every cookie not accepted was one more for my larder. After my second cookie shift, I had at least 50 leftover cookies stashed in my van.

The company I was working for seemed really disorganized. Not only did they not tell me what to wear until it was too late, but they shipped a box of supplies for a demonstration I never agreed to work. I found out just how disorganized they were when it came time to get paid.

After working the last of my three shifts, I realized that I didn’t know when I was supposed to get paid, so I sent an email to the woman with whom I’d been communicating. She explained that because of when I worked, I’d be paid during the next pay cycle. Well, ok, I had no choice but to accept that.

I must explain that during this time I had no savings and very little income. I was living rent free with friends, visiting food banks as often as I could, and generally living hand to mouth. I needed the money I was owed.

When the time frame for receiving my check came and went, I contacted the woman in North Carolina again. She acted as if my check must have gotten lost in the mail and said she would send out another one. Before I could contact her again about my pay, I received an email that was obviously written to several employees. In the message, the woman I’d been talking to apologized for the pay being late and said she’d been negotiating with the owners of the company to get the checks sent out. That’s when I got mad! The woman lied to me about my check getting lost in the mail. This email made it obvious that no one had gotten paid.

At that point, I was about to leave Texas. I sent the woman an email giving her the address that she should send my paycheck to. I also told her that if my pay weren’t waiting for me in my mailbox by the time I got there, I would be forced to contact the Texas Workforce Commission and let them know that I had worked a job and not been paid. Sure enough, when I got to New Mexico, there was a postal money order waiting for me in the amount owed. I was glad to have it, but had to wonder, what kind of business pays employees with a postal money order? I wonder if the other workers ever got paid…

Handing out free samples was great fun, and I sure did enjoy eating and giving away those leftover cookies.

 

Starting a New Job

Standard

Tomorrow I start my new temp job scoring student essays. Because I’ve worked this job twice before, I know that although it it is not a physically challenging job, it is mentally exhausting. I’ll spend 99% of my day sitting down, so my body won’t be worn out at the end of the day. However, after eight hours reading the writing of high school students (all papers on the same topic), and not only reading the essays, but trying to give each one the proper score, my brain will pretty much be mush.

When I worked this job before, all of the workers arrived at the same time, 7:30 or 8am (I can’t remember which, but early) and left at 4 or 4:30 in the afternoon. This time each worker can decide when he or she wants to come in. (Each worker has to pick a specific time and commit to arriving at that time every morning.) I’m considering arriving for work at the earliest time available so I can beat traffic and get one of the limited parking spaces.

Arriving early means getting up early, which means going to bed early. Sometimes when I’m working all day, I’m in bed with a book by 8pm, asleep by 9 o’clock.

I don’t know if I am going to have the energy to keep up with daily blog post. I’ll do my best, but no promises. I might just need to focus on getting myself through the next six weeks.