Friday, November 19, 2004

Temping, Temporarily

My big problem with temping -- rather, my big problem with getting temp work -- is that I can't not put that I'm a freelance stage manager on my resume. If I did, I'd have the saddest resume in the world, full of holes and temporary filler jobs. But with it on there (and not just on there but dominating the page and dropping famous names), it of course comes up in conversation when I meet with new agencies (or, as I did last week, with new people at old agencies), and they ask me how often I get SM jobs, and I always tell myself I'm going to lie but then in the moment it just seems like such a big huge massive inconceivable lie to say, "Oh, I've given that up. What I really want to do now is temp!" So they shy away from putting me on long term assignments, or even month-long assignments (though I'm mostly past the point in my career where I get work on 2 days' notice), and since the poor economy has companies cutting down on short term assignments, prefering to leave a desk empty for a week than to pay a temp, I wind up jobless.

Which is why I'm so thrilled to be sitting at this desk right now, despite my general disdain for temping as a rule.

After my crazy summer and fall, I decided to give myself a break and not worry about work until we closed on the apartment. I worked a couple of days a week at Box Office, and subbed a bit on a Broadway show, and made very good use of all the free time to catch up on sleep, play with the kitten, and work on the apartment. I sent out stage manager resumes, but didn't do a thing about finding a survival job. It was all very nice, and I willed myself to enjoy it and not worry about money. Then we closed, and time was up. My plan had been to go find a new agency (and lie to them) since I hadn't temped in so long and didn't have a particularly good time with my agencies in the past. But I was lazy and that seemed like a silly thing to do with the holiday coming up, so first I went through old emails and sent resumes to everyone I had ever been in touch with at any agency in the past. Since turnover is high in HR, I was surprised at how few of them got bounced back, and several even got favorable responses. One of these led to a torturous meeting with a new "relationship manager" at an agency I had registered with but never actually gone on a job for. I wanted to kill myself. No, I wanted to kill the little twit who was interviewing me so badly and who clearly had no idea what to make of me or my resume. It was not encouraging.

Then yesterday I got a call from another agency I had registered with years ago, and done maybe one day of work for. The manager went on and on about how great it had been to hear from me, and how much she liked me and I wondered if she thought I was someone else but certainly didn't complain. Then she offered me a job, replacing an administrative assistant who's leaving until they can find someone permanent, "through the end of the year and possibly longer." In other words, exactly what I need. A chance to get back in the loop and make a good impression with the agency, the possibility of work in January if I need it, but I'm only actually committed for six weeks so I won't burn any bridges if I leave at the end of that time. Perfection!

And as it turns out, this gig is going to be cushy. I'm at the New York office of a foreign law firm. I guess they're huge at home, but their presense here is small -- only two full-time attorneys here, plus a couple who are in and out a bunch. And me. The woman I'm replacing is still around for a few days, training me, and she's leaving because this is her career and she wants something more challenging. Fair enough, but I want something as unchallenging as possible. There's a big event tonight so she's actually busy, which means she has little time to spend with me and, like a kid visiting mom's office, the first thing she did was put me in front of a computer and give me her password. I asked if it was okay to go online, and she said, "Oh please, sometimes I spend my entire day on the Internet." She's a little bitter. I like her. In the free moments she's had she's shown me the phones and filled me in on all the dirt about who drives her nuts from the home office, who to talk to (and who to avoid) if I need computer help from IT, and reminded me again and again that being busy is actually an anomoly. The lawyers seem remarkably self-sufficient, and so far treat both me and my predecessor with the utmost kindness and respect. I attribute this to the fact that they're not American. And did I mention I don't really have to do anything?

I think I'm going to like it here!

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