Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Slings And Arrows Of Outrageous Fortune (Temp Town Dispatches, Vol. 2)

I love getting emails like these in my inbox about prospective jobs that include sentences like these.

MUST have been employed directly through a law firm with good tenure. This is NOT a job for someone who has been temping a lot. If you feel that your background matches the above description, please send resume to me.

I wasn't planning on applying for this job anyway, mind you, since they asked for other things I didn't have and it's outside of any area I have much knowledge in, but nonetheless seeing your likely continued fate spelled out in explicit terms like that makes for a lousy way to start one's working day. And it's not as if it makes any difference; those of us stuck in Temp Town know full well that people who have been stuck down here (for whatever reason) that this listing wasn't meant for us.

The danger comes when you get it in your head that you're not qualified for any job listing. When combined with long, draining work hours, you just stop bothering to apply for jobs after a while; you just kind of assume that the sentences in boldface apply to every job listing out there.

You just want to say "Look. I know I'm screwed. Could you at least try not to rub it in my face like that?! Is that really too much to ask?"

You learn, at one level, to let it roll off you like water off a duck's back. This wasn't even meant as a slight at me personally, and really, most of the slights one encounters in Temp Town are inadvertent. Every once in a while, you run across an imperious associate or partner, or a power-tripping support staff person, who likely gets treated like dirt by their bosses and subconsciously decide they're going to take it out on other people; if those people have some advanced degree but you get to boss them around nonetheless, even better.

And there's very little you can do to these people, but that sort of goes without saying. Without going into unnecessary detail, There are ways of making life more difficult for them, but you're never going to get the satisfaction of them knowing that you're getting back at them; you just can't afford that sort of luxury. You just have to think of yourself as an Agent of Fortune, so to speak, a vehicle through which karmic debts are repaid. Blessed with a higher breaking point than many, I have yet to succumb to the urge to pull off anything in this vein, but I've seen it done.

Anyhow, the little slights aggregate over time - the hall monitors, the petty rules changes - and when you throw in a few rejection letters from job applications, and the awkwardness that comes when someone asks you what firm you work for - it can leave someone feeling pretty low.

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