Temping Escapade #5
For the past several months, I've been working as the assistant to the Vice President of Communications at a large aerospace defense company. Most of their business comes from government-subsidized contracts to make state-of-the-art weaponry for the military. The contracts awarded to this company are for millions, and sometimes even billions of dollars. I am now one of the privileged few who gets to see, first-hand, the inordinate amount of funds our government spends on defense.
Part of my job is compiling a daily package of press clips, containing articles relating to this company and its competitors, for distribution to various department heads in my sector. To find these press clips, I look through several different daily newspapers, and many weekly publications. Reminiscent of my temp job at the pharmaceutical company, where I read bizarre industry-related trade mags, again I'm reading them, only instead of reading about animals, this time the topic is weaponry and defense.
Some of the names of these publications: Defense News, Armed Forces Journal, Jane's Defence Weekly, Aerospace Daily, Defense Helicopter, Rotor & Wing, Aviation Week & Space Technology, Journal of Electronic Defense -- the list goes on and on. I never knew such magazines existed! I'll now share with you some intriguing (yet ultimately gross and disturbing) quotes I stumbled upon during my innocent quest for press clips. (Note: I left out specific company names in an attempt to avoid any trouble. Oh, these touchy companies in the defense industry -- ya never know what might rub 'em the wrong way.)
"Tomorrow's brush wars will be instant and unpredictable. The U.S. Army needs a bat-out-of-hell, turn-on-a-dime reconnaissance attack helicopter with a skin of space-age composites, an array of stealth techniques and a suite of electronic equipment that can memorize an entire battlefield in a matter of seconds. And, of course, the requisite firepower. This machine is XX, The U.S. Army's 21st century helicopter."
"We met the challenge head-on. This is the XX Joint Strike Fighter. It's more lethal, survivable and supportable than any existing Strike Fighter. A lightweight and compact configuration that not only increases the ability to hit hard, but is harder to hit."
"XX Demining Suit: Tactical Medical Developments has recently introduced a fragmentation-resistant suit for deminers that is specifically designed to shield the genitals, lower abdomen, groin, buttocks and rectal area. XX protects these anatomical regions, as well as the chest and neck. Manufactured from laminated extended chain polyethylene fibre, the XX complies with Stanag 2920 specifications for ballistic protection."
"It's every pilot's worst nightmare: You can't see them, but they're out there. An entire squadron of enemy fighters. You can, however, be alerted by XX's threat warning and ESM/Targeting products, which will prepare you for the most difficult of situations."
"Whatever the tank - it's in trouble: No other anti-tank weapon comes close to XX - it's so advanced that it can already defeat the next generation of armour protection. Armed with two warheads, it flies one metre above the target. Its target sensor system decides the exact position for the warheads to ignite. The 80 mm calibre forward charge strikes down, clearing the way for the main charge and total target destruction."
"Our full range of wheeled armour, from a 5 ton light reconnaissance vehicle to a 20 ton heavy weapons platform, puts your Armed Forces where they are needed most: highly mobile, perfectly protected, with daunting fire power, capable of operating in all peace-keeping and hostile environments of today and the future."
In addition to all of the warfare info, I've seen quite a lot of interesting pictures. I'm not usually the dirty-minded type, but I couldn't help but notice that missiles look... well, I don't want to say. Why don't you take a look at the collage of pictures I've put together, and then you can draw your own conclusions on the matter?
Lately, when someone asks me where I'm working, I put on a serious face, and reply, "In aerospace defense." (Usually the person is taken aback by this statement!) It may seem surprising, but I enjoy working here -- it's the best temp job I've landed in so far. In order to appreciate the little niche I have here, I had to throw my anti-war morals aside, but that's OK for the time being.
Some of the pluses: My boss is very nice; I enjoy working in a communications department (compared to, say, finance); I can easily walk to work; and my desk area has a huge window with a great western view. But speaking of great views, the view from my boss' office is amazing. Standing in her office, one sees a birds-eye view of the whole top portion of the magnificent Chrysler Building, and also, a perfect, unobstructed view of the Empire State Building. I love these two buildings, and I love seeing them each day. When the sky is overcast, I check to see if their tall, pointy spires are hidden beneath the fog.
The best plus of all is thanks to the government's millions of dollars of business it gives this company. Some of this money pays the food tab: If I stay in for lunch, not only do I get paid for the hour (important, because temps frequently get paid by the hour), but the company also pays for my lunch.
The company has charge accounts at practically every restaurant in the area. At lunchtime, I look through the extensive folder of menus, order whatever I want (yeah, within reason), and simply say, "Company charge." It's an incredible perk! I've worked in places that didn't even have a paltry coffee pot -- now I'm ordering whatever I want, and the company is picking up the tab!
And me being me, I've come up with a little scheme: When I have plans to go to a friend's house after work, I bring in my own lunch that day. I call up my friend and ask, "What shall we have for dinner tonight? Chinese? Japanese? Italian?" When we decide upon our menu of choice, I order the food, and when it arrives, I stow it away, untouched, under my desk. I then eat my own lunch, saving the food I ordered for dinner with my friend. I'm bad, I know. But you won't hear any of my friends complaining about it!
In addition to being spoiled by all of the free food, I'm also getting spoiled by the restaurant-quality cappuccino machine in the kitchen. In the morning, after I've settled in, I stroll into the kitchen and make myself a cup of delicious, frothy cappuccino. And sometimes, if I'm feeling particularly indulgent, at around four in the afternoon, I'll make myself ANOTHER delicious, frothy cappuccino. (Tea time, anyone?) Life ain't too tough here in the posh world of aerospace defense. In a roundabout way, thanks Uncle Sam!