Temping Escapade #9

When my counselor at the temp agency described the assignment, she made a point of saying, "It's working for a very difficult, very demanding boss." I said I could handle it.

After I accepted the week-long assignment, I suddenly thought, "Oh, no! It's at an accounting firm -- accounting means a lot of numbers. What if the job is data entry? Data entry for a demanding boss, ordering me, 'Hurry, hurry! Finish those invoices, finish those financial reports!'"

I called my counselor back, to ask further information about the job, but she wasn't at her desk, and I didn't leave a message. I called two additional times, neither of which time I reached her, and I didn't leave any messages. Later, I rethought the situation, and decided not to call again. (I didn't want the agency to think I was being too picky.) I decided to risk it -- I'd hope for the best I wouldn't end up in yet another dreaded data entry position.

When I showed up, I found out the job was NOT data entry, thankfully. I was to be the assistant to one of the four partners in the company. I met the "difficult" boss. He was quite cold and unfriendly, and yes -- he was rather demanding. He was "all business," with no time or patience for anything else. (For example, there wasn't even a hello in the morning.) To deal with this particular working situation, I put on my "serious, efficient front." I did exactly what he wanted, as quickly and precisely as possible. My efforts seemed to be acceptable, because he didn't express any gripes with me. Although I thought he was unfriendly, the woman across from me said, "He's being nice to you, compared to the other temps who've worked for him."

The woman who sat across from me during that week was good company -- we enjoyed chatting with each other throughout my stay. Midway into the week, she told me she was going to be out the following Monday, and the woman I was currently filling in for would be back, so she asked if I could come in on Monday, to fill in for her. I said sure. Lord have mercy, I should have quit while I was aheadÉ.

On Monday, I sat at the nice woman's desk, directly across from where I'd been sitting the previous week. I met the woman I had been replacing. From the get go, for one reason or another, she had it in for me. The minute I sat down, she started complaining. First, she was missing a paper, and blamed it on me: "What'd you do to all of my stuff? I can't find anything!" Following this complaint, I heard miscellaneous grunts and other annoyed sounds from her, all of which were directed toward me. Then, a few minutes later, she said, "What'd you do to my computer? All of my files are rearranged. Everything's messed up!" I guess she wasn't happy about having to come back to work after her vacation ended, and because of this, I became her dumping grounds. The day went from bad to worse...

#1: She handed me a huge stack of her filing to do, because she was lazy and could pawn it off on the temp.

#2: I was eating my lunch at my desk. She, too, ate lunch at her desk, but she finished before I did. Before she went out to run an errand, she gave the room a hefty spray of this disgusting canned air freshener. Then she left, leaving me (while I was in the middle of eating my lunch), in a room now filled with an artificial, headache-inducing smell. I could no longer eat my lunch because of the smell, and the thought of the toxic molecules falling down on my organic salad. Thanks a lot! I had to leave the room, and wait for the air to clear. L'il ol' me was pissed! But there's more...

#3: At around 11:00 a.m., I beeped this guy I've been seeing lately. I waited for him to call me, but I didn't hear from him all day. When I got home from work that evening, I beeped him again -- this time he called. I inquired, "Did you get my beep from this morning?" "Yeah, I did," he said, "I called you at the number you entered into my beeper. Some woman answered the phone and said there was no 'Laura' there, and said I had the wrong number. I called back, and again she said it was the wrong number." Well, can you guess who said that? That woman did, probably when I stepped away from my desk to do her filing. It doesn't end here, though. Are you ready for...

#4: ... the icing on the cake of bitchdom?: As a temp, I don't get paid for a lunch break, so if the company allows it, I work through lunch to get the extra hour of pay. The boss knew I wasn't taking my lunch hour each day, and didn't say a word about it. On the Black Monday with "that woman," when I was eating my lunch at my desk, she had said, "Why don't you eat in the conference room, or go out or something?" "No, that's OK," I replied, "eating at my desk is fine."

At the end of my sixth (and final) day there, I asked her where the boss was, so he could sign my time sheets. She said, "I'll sign them." I replied, "But you weren't even here last week to know what hours I worked." "That doesn't matter. Give them to me and I'll sign them." I handed my time sheets to her. She looked them over, and nastily said, "We don't pay for you to eat your lunch here. You have to change this from eight hours a day to seven. I told you that you should go out for lunch." "Yeah, but you never told me if I stayed in I wouldn't get paid for it!"

She proceeded to cross out the six days I had worked eight hours, and changed them to seven. Then where I put a dash for lunch (meaning no lunchtime taken), she wrote in "1 hour" for each day. She signed the sheets, and handed them back to me.

I looked at my time sheets, and my now-decreased hours. I looked at the "1 hour" written in for lunch on each of the six days. "It's not fair," I thought, "I stayed at my desk, working through those hours, and now my time sheet says '1 hour for lunch' for each of the six days?" I got really upset -- it felt like vindictive sabotage. That woman didn't know the first thing about me -- how could she so eagerly slash six hours worth of work off my pay? And the job of monitoring how much I earned had absolutely nothing to do with her!

If that wasn't enough, moments later, right in front of my face, she called the human resources department and ratted to them about me (while displaying an indignant manner): "The temp here, Laura ___, thinks we're paying for her lunch hour. Well, we're not, and I told her so! I deducted an hour each day for her lunch. I kept telling her to go out for lunch, but she said she'd rather eat in, and wait for a personal phone call." A "personal" phone call?! My "personal" phone call was a call I was expecting from my TEMP agency, to book me somewhere else the rest of the week! I felt like she was kicking me when I was already down. I looked at her with seething eyes. She made me want to throw my temping towel in, and escape to a place far away from everything and everyone.

I was furious and disgusted. Not for the lesser amount of money I'd be receiving, but for the way she treated me -- there was truly no need to have done what she did.

When I was waiting for the elevator on my way out, I ran into the supposedly "difficult and demanding" boss/partner in the company. He asked me if everything was OK, because he noticed I was upset. I said, "Arlene just slashed six hours off my paycheck." He questioned, "Why did she do that?" I replied, "Because she said your company doesn't pay for work done through lunch, but I never knew that. I worked through my lunch every day." The boss said, "Do you have your time sheets with you? Do you have a pen? I'll change them back. If anyone has a problem with it, you tell them to speak to me."

I had a pen, and he changed them back. Funny how the unfriendly boss turned out to be the decent and caring one in the end.

So, here's to another notch on the temping tree -- one where I had victory, but didn't feel especially victorious. And here's to hoping my next escapade will be trouble free.