[Meg's note: Apparently I did a shitty job of introducing Becca last week because I got a bunch of people asking me how I got fired from being unemployed. Becca is my sister. She has replaced Eddie as the second bird. She blogs in green, I blog in red. Now laugh. LAUGH I SAID!]
After the shock of being suddenly unemployed wore off I did what any responsible human being would do – I got a temp job. At first, I likened temp work to having a friend with benefits – you both know it isn’t permanent so you don’t get all emotionally invested, you never have to deal with the morning after therefore you can be a little wilder (think stealing cool logo mugs from the communal kitchen, I’ve got my eye on a couple), and the simple fact that you have agreed to enter into this mutually beneficial yet attachment-devoid relationship makes the other person eternally grateful. But conventional wisdom says friends with benefits never works out in the long run – one person wants to be more than friends while the other person causally slips into conversation that he hooked up with a hot senior when he went back for his college homecoming. But an entire industry is built on temping, so clearly it has some staying power.
As long as there have been office environments there have been temps to fill unmet needs, as long as there has been filing and alphabetizing and label-making to be done there has been someone willing to do it for a price. These people are employed by temp agencies, semi-shady organizations that keep a stable of people loyal to them by promising that a great job is just around the corner but, in the meantime, would you run over to XYZ Company and read through a few hundred-page documents and change every colon to a semi-colon? You do need the money don’t you? Oh and don’t forget that you’ll only make $12/hour though I am charging $18/hour, gotta get my cut… Yes my friends say it with me: temping is prostitution. The oldest profession on the books. Talk about staying power – JESUS knew a prostitute! That was waaay long ago!
So wow, what a load off. I’ll say it loud – I’m a tempstitute and I’m proud! This is not necessarily a bad thing - in film and television there have been many prostitutes that captured our minds and our hearts. For instance:
- Julia Roberts as “Vivian Ward” in Pretty Woman - The prostitute with a dream. She got out of her podunk town to become a star but ends up hooking instead. Enter a detached millionaire who is afraid of heights and doesn’t really even want to have sex with her: fancy shopping trips, comically loud laughter, and George Costanza bitch-slapping someone ensue and the prostitute and the millionaire fall madly in love and live happily ever after.
- Diane Lane as “Lorena Wood” in Lonesome Dove – The prostitute with a heart of gold. She loves her johns like they were all her tender lovers and the majority of them love her right back … for approximately three minutes at a time. She follows them on a treacherous journey north to Montana; kidnap, rape, and tragic death ensue until the prostitute finds a home with a kindly Nebraskan family that pay no mind to the fact that she used to “cut cards” for a living and she finally fees like she belongs.
- Taryn Manning as “Nola” in Hustle & Flow – The smart prostitute. Sure she’s a prostitute but hell, that don’t mean she’s nothing! Out of a small-time pimp’s stable of girls, she’s the one who questions his authority; after all, she was doing just fine working the truck stops by herself. When the pimp decides to quit pimping she sticks with him, eventually running his new business, no longer a prostitute but a primary investor.
Of course it’s not all good, as evidenced by:
- Elizabeth Shue as “Sera” in Leaving Las Vegas – The hopeless prostitute. She’s so far gone that when an alcoholic bent on committing suicide one slug of vodka at a time shows up she falls madly in love with him as he’s too incapacitated to do her any more damage. There is no happy ending here – her beloved alcoholic dies and she once again is all alone.
- Generic Third-rate Actress as “Generic Prostitute Murder Victim” in Law & Order – The dead prostitute. We don’t know her back story, we don’t even know her name. All we know is that serial killer is on the loose and he has strangled her with her own panties and left her blue and lifeless body by the docks along the waterfront.
Classic cinema! Touching characters! Thought-provoking plots! Comedy & Tragedy! Ladies and gentleman, I give you “Tempstitute Theatre:”
- Julia Roberts as “Vivian Ward” in Pretty White Out – The tempstitute with a dream – the dream to one day meet and marry a rich businessman. Until that time she temps as an administrative assistant, meticulously painting her nails with white out and avoiding answering the phone while waiting for Mr. Right. Enter a married firm partner who is 25 years her senior and most definitely wants to have sex with her: fancy shopping trips, comically droopy balls, and Mr. Executive bitch-slapping his wife with divorce papers ensue and the tempstitute and the executive fall in something resembling actual prostitution and live probably not that happily ever after.
- Diane Lane as “Lorena Wood” in Lonesome Bachelor’s Degree – The tempstitute with a heart of gold. She loves her temp jobs as if she had actually been hired based on her qualifications and they love her back because they don’t have to pay for her health insurance. She follows her temp jobs on a treacherous journey through barely surviving non-profits and bitter over-worked law offices; condescension, low pay, and the realization that her degree didn’t do shit ensue until she finds a home with a kindly private school that pays no mind to the fact that she never “studied education” and she teaches children how to read.
- Taryn Manning as “Nola” in Hustle the Schmo – The smart tempstitute. Sure she’s temping but that’s because she got fired from her last job for having too much attitude. Of the investment firm’s stable of payroll clerks she alone questions their authority to turn her radio down – after all, Donnie Simpson is doing Donnie’s Morning Wish and she wrote in asking for someone lord to please pay off her Discover card. When HR questions her about shady doings on the part of the Payroll Manager she tells them everything because he acted a fool instead of a grown-ass man, and is given the Manager’s job as a reward.
- Elizabeth Shue as “Sera” in Leaving Colored Paper in the Printer Only Leads to Trouble – The hopeless tempstitute. She is so far gone that she doesn’t even try to play office politics and when she is asked to print something on Goldenrod-colored paper she leaves it in there even though she knows the mean ancient receptionist will be a complete and total bitch to her. There is no happy ending – the receptionist gets the tempstitute fired so she is off to another thankless, soul-less temp job.
- Generic Third-rate Actress as “Generic Tempstitute Murder Victim” in Staples Order – The dead tempstitute. You don’t know her back story, you don’t even know her name. All you know is that fax machine is out of toner and she ordered the wrong kind and now the Controller can’t send the trustees the board meeting notes. The tempstitute’s body is found strangled with an elaborate chain of interlocking large rubber banks, blue and lifeless by the supply closet where the toner should be.
If I could pick which tempstitute my “career” (hahaha) most closely resembles I’d have to go with Diane Lane. I actually just visited some very kindly Nebraskans! I’ve got a heart of gold! Each temp job I take I think “this could be it!” while they think “perfect, someone to print and collate 24 sets of board meeting notes!” I have also sadly come to the realization that my degree hasn’t done shit. According the the story line it looks like all I have to do now is wait for a kindly [enter company] to take pity on me and even though I don’t [enter qualification necessary for job], they hire me to [enter job that I’d like to have even though I am not qualified].