After a couple of months the slight flickering fluoro tube off to the right of desk had finally broken his resolution to smile at the drones lining the walls of the corridors. After a couple more, his eyes had begun to gum up. Nothing much wrong in that. Staring softly out into the fluorescent twilight, he thought to himself how much more soothing the tin can chimes of the tannoy seemed to him now. How much more natural. Just the natural order of things.

Order. There was such peace in order. Where once his desk had been a wilderness of the unfiled, the unkempt, the chaotic, now calm and neatness reigned. A few key words gummed to monitor frame, “proactive people, pushing forward as one”, “Success through conformity”, “A quiet workplace is a productive workplace”. He noted how the little things had assumed new import. The reassuring twice hourly change in pitch afforded by the air-con, the rattle as another file was saved. His was a newer, more acute musicality. The office bore all the instruments he could need. Now and then, far away, unbearably intrusive, the low thud of a car stereo would disturb his mantra of collation. A burst of liquid rage would momentarily fill his shell – memories of past jealousies flooded him, his pipes coughing out half formed expletives. Raised eyebrows from a supervisor, and he forced a handful of gum into his mouth, a handful into each ear, scraped from ever oozing eyes. Better cocooned. Better warm.

Routine. There was peace in routine. Everywhere now were simple patterns. Temps neatly arranged in numbered pods. Longevity was rewarded with privileges. The jarring impurity of colour was gently washed from the corridors of the faithful. A representative from the agency murmured soothing nothings as she extracted a pint of clear liquid from a catheter in his back. Away to his right, in the darkest places in the office, representatives suckled straight from tubes. The pods pulsed slightly in the fluorescent twilight. Somewhere, a water cooler bubbled.

Temping is best done at a very young age, ideally fresh out of school when you have no idea of how the labour market works and therefore have no unduly high expectations of how you should be treated.

I say this because when you have a few years work experience under your belt you begin to recognise when agencies and employers are bending you over and taking it in turns to fuck you in the ass hard and fast.

If you do come to realise this scenario the relationship between you quickly disintegrates to the point where you get fired 8 times in a row and banned from your last agency because you refuse to be treated as a robot, ahem.

Advice for the budding ‘temp’:

  • Realise the fact that you have no rights whatsoever. If the employer doesn’t like the look of you they can get rid of you faster then the roadrunner on speed.

  • Individualism is not looked kindly upon and is seen by management as a threat to the stability of their company. So don’t wear a comedy or brightly coloured tie, bland jewellery if any, conformist hairstyle and no facial hair, limited make up especially for guys. In their eyes you’re sole purpose for being there is to do the job they have set you, and nothing else. Expect to be treated as a robot slave who does what they’re told without querying it.

  • Enjoy your job, and if you don’t, fake it. Lack of enthusiasm will get you kicked out the door in an Uncle Phil / Jazzy Jeff styely.

  • If you find you have access to the Internet for no particular reason, ask them to take it away. You know as well as I do you won’t be able to use it “strictly for company business”.

  • Don’t be too ‘proactive’ in your job. You might think you’re making a good impression by doing things off your own back, but this makes you seem unpredictable and uncontrollable, which is what manager’s hate.

  • Accept blame when it is apportioned to you and do your best to appear sincerely sorry. Arguing against established members of staff is a no no. You will soon learn the meaning of ‘office politics’.

  • Agencies have established relationships with employers and will never take your side in a dispute. Your consultant is not your friend and does not have your best interests at heart. View whatever they say to you with suspicion and question your agency’s motives at every turn. To them you are simply extra commission.

  • Expect your managers to be spineless, gutless control freaks who can’t interact with you on a personal level because they see you as a subordinate who has to do what they say. I say spineless and gutless because if they decide they don’t like you, they wont tell you face to face. They’ll do a swift and convenient disappearing act whilst you get a phone call from your agency saying that you are no longer required, and they wont show they’re faces again until you're half way down the road wondering what it is you did to upset them (you actually blinked 13 times a minute instead of the regulation 11). They know they’re cunts, and they know you know they’re cunts.

  • Resist the temptation to leave even 1 minute early. When it comes to signing your timesheet, believe me, they’ve been checking on you, it’s what they live for, and when they see you’ve claimed that 1 minute extra they’ll feel all their Christmases have come at once as they have yet another opportunity to play the role of ‘your boss’.

Always remember that temping is only for when you're stuck for something else to do. Temp when you come out of school and aren't sure of what career you want, or for when you're between 'proper' jobs, because it's a mugs game. I've been stuck in the temp cycle for 5 years now since leaving school and am now going to University so I can get a goddam proper job and don't have to work for closet fascists anymore. Not that I'm bitter you understand ;)

Complaints against myself include:

  • Receiving a text message whilst my mobile phone was in my bag, under my desk, and to which I didn't even respond too.

  • Keeping my voice at a reasonable level on the phone in consideration to the other people in the room was taken as being unconfident.

  • Seeming unenthusiastic when the real reason I wasn't the life and soul of the office was because I had an obvious cold.

  • Asked what time I wanted to go home, I say 6pm, this is taken as being unenthusiastic to continue working, talk about entrapment!

  • Blaming me when the water stations in the office ran out of water when I hadn't even been told the procedure, or that it was my responsibility.

  • Being sacked because they found out that 5 weeks previously I had been bored. What happened was that at one point I was bored so I wrote a kind of diary entry on Word in my personal file saying where I was and what I was doing, and ended it by saying "...and I'm writing this because I'm so fucking bored!". Instant sacking, by means of dissappearing and getting my agency to call me of course.

  • Asking to close a window because I was cold. It was the middle of winter for christ sake!

  • Leaving at 5:25pm instead of 5:30pm.

  • Being too eager to order stationary we were low on stock on, this is why i say don't be too pro-active, it scares managers.

    Of course this is just my side of the story, but I have no reason to lie, this is the Gods honest truth and I'm just trying to illustrate the idiocy and ridiculous behaviour of the people you will have to sadly deal with.

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