Monday marked the seven-month anniversary of working my office gig at a Fortune 500 company that I scored through a temp agency. I am amazed and impressed with myself that I lasted that long. It more than doubles any previous office record I’ve held, and believe you me, there were a lot of times I thought I would not be stepping foot back in that building.
When the corporation hired me, back in late October, they said it was a temp-to-perm position. My boss, who will we call Diane, told me on my first day that she really hoped for it to become a permanent position, and that it would more than likely happen after the new year.
The new year came and went, and I was never invited to become a permanent employee. While everyone else’s cubes had “professional” name tag décor, mine looked like this…
Every day I drove in mass traffic to arrive to work at 8:30 AM to sit in my cube and pretty much not do anything. I was hired as a “marketing assistant” to help the four-person marketing team, and though they gave me some projects here and there, on most days only a good couple hours were needed to complete the work I was given.
It was a weird place to work. At first I thought it was a good company, and I hoped they would hire me full-time, even though their line of work is beyond boring. There seemed to be some really nice people that worked there and I had a few (if that) “work friends” that helped keep me entertained. Plus the place always had all sorts of snacks, meals and desserts put out for employees to eat. (Gotta keep the morons subdued on sugar…)
The marketing team barely ever spoke to me; sometimes almost a week would go by without any solid communication. They also traveled a lot and left me “rotting in my cube” as I liked to say. My boss wouldn’t even tell me she was going away on business or vacation, she just wouldn’t be there. I got to liking that and found I had slight flexibility in my schedule and productive activity, being that nobody was monitoring a single thing I did. (I created a new blog site, wrote blogs and in the last few weeks worked on my novel.) If they had given me more I would have done more, I was just going with the flow…
Until the flow gets interrupted, which happened about a week and a half ago. I had just arrived to work and found I had terrible, terrible lady cramps in my cube and was feeling nauseous. I knew I couldn’t afford to go home since I had an upcoming five-day weekend, so I decided to go outside and lay in the fetal position in the backseat of my car.
At one point I puked out the back door of my car in the company parking lot, and I think that’s when it really hit me, when I got really upset that I don’t have insurance or benefits and I can’t even afford to take time off when I’m legitimately not feeling well, or to visit with friends and family across the country. It seemed like everyone else at the company had these “luxuries” of life, why didn’t I?
“Because this company doesn’t care about me, that’s why.” That’s exactly what I told my work friend when I was able to go back to my desk after the puking in the company parking lot and laying in my car incident.
My work friend replied, “Aw, we care about you!” and I felt really bad for him for saying that. “WE care about you”?? It’s a damn corporation and you’re on a low rung of a long ladder, my friend. There is no “we.” You are not them! …I hope he gets out of that place.
This coming weekend is Memorial Day, and I have had plans to have a five-day weekend for about two months because I have friends coming into town. I never told my work I needed off on Thursday and Friday of this week, because I just wasn’t worried about it. I was worried, however, how I was going to afford to spend (semi) leisurely with my friends over the five days and still pay my bills and living expenses after having three unpaid days off over the holiday weekend. I spend every dollar of every check every week, and I really wasn’t sure how things were going to work out, but for some reason, I had faith they would…
This past Sunday night I was cleaning my bathroom and I suddenly had this very strong sense that I needed to talk to one of my bosses the very next day. I needed to ask where the position was going or if I was ever going to get insurance/vacation days. I was starting to feel like a hooker in the situation! Getting paid to do the dirty work with absolutely no benefits. It occurred to me that I was feeling pretty low about my position and it seemed evident to me the role I was in was not going to become permanent because there wasn’t enough substance to it. It wasn’t even really…real.
I got into work on Monday morning, turned on my computer, made a cup of tea in the cafeteria and was back at my desk about to check my e-mail when my head boss who we will call Mark “popped by” and gregariously asked me to “come chat” in the nearby conference room. “Go ahead and bring your tea,” he said with a smile.
We sat down in the conference room and he told me he had some “bad news.” My position was going to be winding down. He said they’d hired someone for a permanent marketing position that I “just didn’t qualify for, though it was not a reflection on me.” Mark then told me that the marketing department also hired an “intern,” and she would be starting that very day. He said I was to train her on everything I taught myself. Without him saying it, essentially, she was replacing me.
The intern, it turned out, is the very pretty and classically chic 19-year-old daughter of the company’s Vice President of Human Resources. She went to boarding high school, is currently enrolled in an almost-ivy league college and just received a gift of an Audi from her parents. In an instant, the same job that has been paying my bills and supporting my livelihood was handed over to this girl, and I had to show her what to do. Nobody had ever showed me what to do, I was just given an instruction manual and it took me days or perhaps longer to learn all the things I showed this girl in one measly hour.
The girl was very nice and I actually didn’t mind training her at all. I think I took “the news” very well, I didn’t cry or even get anxiety or upset, but it’s probably because they are paying me through next Friday so I have cushion to “look for another job.” The intern took over my desk, my cube, my phone line…and I accepted it all with a smile. Except toward the end of the day today, when I was walking back from the bathroom and saw my boss handing the intern a present and saying “now you’re officially part of the team!” After I saw that I packed up my shit and left without saying goodbye to anyone. You get what you give, company.
It sucks I got replaced by a 19-year-old, but I know that it’s a good experience for her and it was well past time for me to move on. Now, as it turns out, I think things are going to be even better for me! I am not so worried about having time off when my friends are here because it turns out I am getting what I wanted; paid days off work. I am being paid through Friday, June 3, and if the temp agency doesn’t find another gig for me that starts the following week I can collect unemployment, so I don’t feel totally screwed.
I still need to find a permanent job with benefits, but at least I got an easy out at the place I had been working! The job reminded me of a boyfriend that needed to be dumped; I think both employee and employer knew it wasn’t going anywhere.
As everything worked out, today, Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday, was my last day of employment at that company and I have seven upcoming paid work days off and many fun things planned. Since I don’t have to get up at 6:15 AM tomorrow I am going to start my mini-vacation by celebrating life, as well as the music of one of the greatest loves of my life, Mr. Robert Zimmerman Bob Dylan, at a special show at Cervante’s Masterpiece ballroom…and I have free admission!
Hey folks…Ain’t Life Grand?