Shortly before I graduated from college I met a woman who worked as an office temp. I don’t remember her living situation but it was either with tolerant parents or in a series of rundown hovels. Actually, she may have been one of those scary people who asks if they can crash on your couch for a weekend and never leaves. She didn’t do that to me.

She would do temp jobs until she saved a pile of money, then she’d travel until it ran out. Then she’d return to the temping until she had enough for the next trip.

I thought this sounded fabulous except I did not have tolerant parents and was not the sort of person who would be happy moving from hovel to hovel. Also, when I graduated from college I had only very minor office skills, I could type, but not fast enough to impress anyone, and even with fast, my accuracy was doodoo. I never did any temp work.

Now that I work in an office that employs temp workers on a regular basis, I cannot help but think that it would be a horrible job.

Imagine: every new job would be like your first day at work. You don’t know anyone’s name or where anything is or how anything works or the weird obsessive quirks of the person you have to work for. At least if it’s your new job people might talk to you but no one pays attention to the temp, unless she’s screwing up. (I say “she” because I can’t remember ever seeing a male temp.) Plus either everyone would be foisting the worst busy work on you or else you’d only be called because there was some giant project and you’d be working a deadline under a learning curve. Or else you’d just be sitting there watching the clock and waiting for the day to end.

I always try to talk to the temps and at least find out their names. At the end of one day I asked a temp if it was the longest day of her life and she very cheerfully said, “Oh no, everyone is really nice at this office.” Geez, what would a bad office be like? I think you need to be of a certain personality, unflinching and confident, to succeed as a temp.

I never would have been good at it.

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