Saturday, February 9, 2008

Temp Town

What is Temp Town?

It's where you might end up if you made it through law school, passed a bar exam or two, but still somehow, one way or another, fell through the cracks of the legal profession. And being here will teach you all the different ways that that could have happened to people. It's a culture all its own, a veritable Island of Misfit Toys. People from all walks of life, with only the law license in common, can be found here. Calling the work professional might (generally) be something of a stretch, but it's not quite a proletarian experience either. You won't get rich doing it, especially considering how far in hock you probably went for that JD - but if you play your cards right, you can feed, clothe, and house yourself, and maybe even treat yourself to the ocassional fine dinner or snazzy gadget.

When you walk out of the work space - whether it's for an hour at lunch, for the night, or for forever - it's as if it doesn't exist. Your fate and the fate of whatever matter you're working on aren't connected in any meaningful way. Maybe you have a work ethic, or maybe your boss is good at figuring out if you do good work or whether you do much work. And maybe not.

If you're lucky, it's like visiting the Wood Between The Worlds, just a way station on one's way somewhere else. If you're not careful, though, it becomes something of a way of life.

Like much of nature, the profession's pretty good at kicking you when you're down. While here you never get to prove to anyone that you can do anything outside Temp Town, and it's assumed that you don't belong anywhere else after a while. It's sort of like an aspiring actress who ends up doing a few porn movies. Once you're a "porn actress," no one else is going to want to cast you.

As I am fond of saying, it beats sewing buttons on shirts in Bangladesh for $3.00 a day. And most working-class people don't generally like their jobs. They have to be bribed to do them.

I guess I am bribed pretty well, all things considered.

No one knows for sure if it's a place where one can hide from the elements of the job market, a fallback one can count on if he can find no other way to pay the bills. No one knows if the well that nourishes this strange landscape will dry up. It doesn't seem terribly efficient from a client's point of view, and yet it's much more efficient than the traditional law firm model of things.

Everything has a price and a value, and they're not necessarily related.

Temp Town is nothing like Hell as depicted in the Divine Comedy, but it can be quite a bit like Hell as depicted in No Exit.

It's where our hero now finds himself.

No comments: