The joy of temping

I’ve temped on and off throughout my adult life. When I worked in television as a freelancer, I’d take temp jobs between projects to keep the income flowing. Of course, that was back when people had receptionists to take calls for them and secretaries who typed memos. I could get a call in the morning about a job for the day because a receptionist called out. It was an easy way to supplement my income, and at times I met some interesting people. I’ve also gotten long-term gigs out of it, so I’m always open to temping.

My current temp job is pleasant. The small office is friendly and there’s very little office drama. I’m respected by the other staff, not dismissed as temps often are. The office is on a beautiful street in Palm Springs with a gorgeous view of the mountains. There’s but one wrinkle in my day as a result of my temp status–office access.

I have no keys, which is understandable. I work in an office with my supervisor while the copier, large printer, mail and postage machine are in another suite. I have to leave the suite and walk down the outdoor hallway to another suite to copy and mail things, which are two tasks I do often in my position. If the staff have to leave (which they do often, since there is yet another location where they have to work at times), they lock the door. That can waste a little time when I walk down to make a copy and find the office locked. It’s not a big deal–the exercise is good for me since I’m afraid of the gym, right?

The inconvenience comes at lunch time. The ‘break room’ (a room with a water cooler, refrigerator, sink, and microwave–no table) is in the office. I can leave my lunch in the fridge if necessary, but I can’t eat it there. A perk of being staff is free lunch in the employee commissary at another location owned by the company. Staff close the office at the same time every day, and everyone goes to lunch together. As a temp, I am not entitled to free lunch, nor do I have access to the commissary building. I am expelled into the world to eat my lunch on my own.

Eating on my own is fine–I like to run errands and make my lunch hour productive. I also like to bring my lunch. But without a break room, I can’t eat food like leftovers that require reheating or refrigeration. I’m often busy at the job and can’t take fifteen minutes before lunch begins to head down to the suite with a kitchen to get my lunch from the fridge or to reheat it. If I forget to pick it up, I’d have no lunch. So I only pack simple bag lunches like sandwiches. That’s not bad, but it’s so much easier to bring leftovers than it is to buy specific lunch items.

I’m also left to my own devices to find a place to eat. It’s still 100 degrees or hotter midday here in the desert, so eating lunch in my car is a bad idea. I don’t want to sweat through my office attire and be smelly all afternoon. One option I found was a nearly abandoned mall down the street. There are three stores left in one wing, but the entire mall is open to the public and somewhat air-conditioned. I’ve sat in the empty, dark food court, eating my sandwich alone and reading email on my phone. It’s sad, but I kind of like it. I feel like I’m living a Douglas Coupland novel.

After a week of eating in the food court, I discovered the public library even closer to the office. I have eaten my sandwich on the way to the library, then set up my laptop in the stacks to update this blog. The library has an atrium and an indoor koi pond. It’s a lovely place to spend an hour. That’s my current plan for lunches, though last week errands took precedence over blogging.

As I learn the area, I’m sure I’ll find fun places to eat and write. I’ve found nearby thrift stores and plan to visit them on Mondays when the library is closed. And once the weather cools, I’ll be able to eat outside. There are a few beautiful parks that will make for a great lunch time picnic spot. Of course, by that time I may be relieved of my temp duties because the project is completed. Such is life for the temp.

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Filed under blogging, life changes, Life in Coachella Valley

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