The Awkward Truths of Temping

When I referred to events in my first temp assignment as “disasters”, I may have been a tad melodramatic.  So I would like to change my verdict on the temping affair-nothing is disastrous, but many things about the job qualify as awkward.

Yep, awkward.  Like a 12 year old girl with a training bra and braces variety of awkward.  Nothing in a temp’s job is really important.  If you are the regular receptionist, you likley have other duties for the company, and make yourself useful somehow.  But if you’re a temp, then you’re pretty much just good for filling a chair.  After all. someone has to answer the phone, sign for packages, and buzz people in.  There is nothing really important about these things, individually.

Instead, what the duties of a receptionist accomplish is that they make things run smoothly.  What they’re paying you for is presentation.  Which is why when you break it down, everything is so simple.  But, if you aren’t familiar with how things run in the company, then it can lead to a bit of a bumpy ride for the few days you’re there.  Nothing you do wrong can cause much damage (I mean I’m sure if you were really trying.  But not in the normal course of action…Okay now I’m worried I jinxed myself and I’m knowing on the desk. Anyways.).  All your mistakes really do is make things more difficult for people than they are used to, which makes them annoyed.  Leading to the question “How the heck could I screw this up?? It’s so simple a monkey could do it!”.

How could I screw this up?  Well, I think I’ve found the root of the awkwardness that is temp life, in a two easy points.

1. All the equipment may be simple, but you’ve never seen it before.  This seems silly, but really-if you haven’t turned on all those security camera video displays and company promotional loops before, how do you know they aren’t on?  Or what about that set of lights you missed?  So simple once someone points it out, though if you aren’t used to seeing the room every day, how could you notice on your own?  This can lead to the appearance of incompetence.  But really, you just aren’t there to see it every day.

2. You just aren’t going to develop a remarkable memory for learning countless unfamiliar names the first time you meet people.  Especially not in your first ten minutes when your supervisor introduces you around.  Sure Mary, I may have talked to you on the phone twice and transferred numerous calls your way, but that doesn’t mean when you come down I’m going to know that package is for you!  There is one of you and many of them, and while they just have to read the office memo to get your name, chances are you’re going to forget theirs! (Of course, you’ll figure it out by the last afternoon, by which point the information will do you no good).

So sure, neither of those issues lead to anything major.  They just make you look like an idiot.  My solution?  Just smile at everyone and buzz open the door on the first ring and they’ll forget all about you. (And hopefully they will forget that you didn’t open the garage door for them because the screen wasn’t on and you thought it was automatic like the side entrance!)

But in the end, I’m only here for two and a half days, so who cares right? The Fed Ex lady understands me at least, and greeted me with a sassy “I know you brought a book today, child! Right?”  I told her that actually, I brought two.  Just another day in the life of a temp!

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