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January 20, 2006

The Painfully True Story Of Why Temping Ain't Easy

This has been Crazy Week at work (well, Crazy Week in general). We've had all these changes, re-organizations and I'm going to be moving to a new floor and new department and all kinds of stuff. Crazy! Change! But even with unrest and commotion, this is still a very good job because oh yeah. I am not working for the evil minion of Lucifer.

Because I have, in the past, actually worked for the horned beast.

During the dot-com heyday, I left Large Entertainment Corporation, Inc., to do freelance from home and then the dot-bomb happened and the freelance dream died and I went to work for an agency.

The agency would send me ("Qualified Creative Talent") on jobs for companies ("The Client") and my contracts would last anywhere from a few days to a few months. It was like being a high-class call girl for the corporate world. You know, I got dressed up, I showed up, I performed, I got paid, etc. I didn't have to get undressed, but aside from that I was still pretty much pimping myself out for cash. Anyway. Moving along.

It was during this period ("Purgatory") that I met The Satan Boss.

Now I should warn ya'll that this is a horror story, and should serve as a cautionary tale to temps everywhere: you, too, could take a nice little temp job and find yourself working for the horned beast. Bring disinfectant.

It started sometime back in the fall of 2001, when Unnamed Large Company hired me to design a new software they were developing. I was brought in after their last designer mysteriously refused to return to work. THIS WAS A HINT.

Because the project was new, and on a rushed timeline, Large Company placed me in a window office with the woman who was my boss. It became clear to me after a few days that this was no normal boss. But I had no idea ... in my defense, I was younger. Less jaded. I was maybe naive. And possibly very much addicted to shoe shopping. I overlooked things, you know, for a paycheck.

One evening around 6 p.m., I was sitting at my desk trying to work through a mound of project sheets. My boss, Satan, turned around and announced, "I'm bored! My brain is so fried! So ... what are you doing?"

Now, I hadn't worked there long, but prior experience had taught me that Satan was about ten seconds away from rolling her chair over to my desk, looking over my shoulder and offering completely unsolicited advice on how she thought I could do things better using tools she has no idea how to use, but was convinced she understood design software from her passing knowledge of such high-end products as Notepad.

It has happened before. All designers fear the moment an INAD* begins to offer "tips."

(INAD = People who give LOTS of feedback, but always preface it with "I'm Not A Designer, But....")

To head her off at the INAD pass, I suggested she go online to relieve her boredom and take the ColorQuiz, which I was insanely addicted to at the time. I knew it would take up at least five minutes. (A reprieve, no matter how small, was worth it.)

After she finished the ColorQuiz, she turned to me and said, "This is fun! Are there other quizzes online that I can take like this?"

Giving my boss busy work to keep her off my case? Why, yes, ma'am, I can do that!

"Go to emode.com," I told her, "they have tons of quizzes there for you to take." So she registered at emode and started taking quizzes. In the next half hour, Satan became a quiz-taking fool, all out loud of course, telling me what her inner cat was, who her inner rock star was and the name of her ultimate celebrity love match. Apparently, it had not occurred to Satan to waste valuable company time quietly and to herself.

Out of the blue, she started laughing hysterically.

It was an evil laugh.

A foreboding laugh.

"Listen to the title of this quiz!" she said. "It's called 'How Evil Are You?'" Satan started laughing again. "I don't have to take that one... I already know I'm evil!"

She turned her chair around to face me. "Do you want to know what the most evil thing I've ever done is?"

Ah.

Well.

I knew I shouldn't. I knew that fate was tempting me. I knew that whatever I would hear was something I would immediately wish I could un-hear.

But I am a weak, weak woman.

"Sure," I answered. "What's the most evil thing you've ever done?"

She leaned back in her chair.

"Well, once, oh this was about ten years ago..." she says, "I had this boyfriend. I knew he was cheating on me, and I wanted to know who the slut was that he was sleeping with, and I wanted to really give it to him... anyway, I had this guy friend who had gonorrhea. So I slept with him. And I got gonorrhea. Then, the next night, I slept with my boyfriend and I gave him gonorrhea. So I went to the doctor and I got the medicine and I started taking the pills.

"Three days later, when my boyfriend's d*ck was on fire and about to fall off [Ed. Note: THESE WERE HER EXACT WORDS, PEOPLE] he had to come to me and tell me he had gonorrhea... and I ripped him a new one... I screamed at him and he had to tell me who he'd slept with ... and by the end of the night he was on his knees, crying!"

She looked at me expectantly. She was smiling.

"Oh." I said. "Oh."

"Heh," she chuckled, "Oh, I told you. I'm evil. Nobody messes with me."

I excused myself.

The realization of what I had just heard from my new boss who I had known a mere eight days had not fully sunk in yet. I went to the ladies room because I thought I might be sick. But then, as I reached the ladies room, I realized ... I realized HOLY MOTHER OF GOD MY BOSS GAVE HERSELF GONORRHEA.

AND SHE USES THIS VERY LADIES ROOM. And she is my FREAKING BOSS and she's telling me this HORRIBLE STORY at WORK where we are EMPLOYED and expected to have some form of DECENT CONDUCT.

AND I CAN NEVER USE THE LADIES ROOM ON THIS FLOOR AGAIN.

So I then had to go to the lobby and ride the elevator down to the 14th floor and use the ladies room there. I took all the disinfectant wipes from the first aid cabinet and began systematically wiping down my entire workstation. And the elevator keys. And the doorknobs.

Now, I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but it was clear that my boss was indeed the daughter of Lucifer and resided at 666 Avenue of The Beast. I went home that evening and called the agency and asked for a new assignment. There was no way I could return to The Scene Of The Crime.

After all, the ladies room on the 14th floor was still too near the source of germs. I'd have to resort to using the ladies room in the Chinese restaurant downstairs. And before long she might try to get me to sign over my soul, or eat a small child, or bite the head off a kitten.

So, I never returned to the job, and time passed and I found this job at White Guys In Ties, inc., and all was well. Except... every now and then I look at my boss and wonder what's trapped inside. Though in his defense he has never once asked me to bite the head off a little kitten.

Posted by laurie at January 20, 2006 12:34 AM