The Temp

You’ve seen them, although they may not have made enough of an impression on you to elicit a second thought. I notice them, and I feel for them, because I was one of them.

They are temps- not the elite office temps, but the lowly marketing temps. They’re the ones walking the streets or stadium, or department stores. They’re occasionally dressed in costumes, often hot heavy uncomfortable costumes: animal fur- mascots for a sporting event, a hot dog or hamburger costume for the hot dog stand that’s trying to drum up business.

It’s a creative way to draw attention to a business that wouldn’t normally garner attention- creative marketing.

I have had my share in this phenomenon. In my late teens when I was desperate for cash, I was pimped out by a temp agency for a vast assortment of odious odd jobs:

•I pounded the pavement in the dead of winter, at the street exit of a commuter train station in the heart of the city and tried to get people to take pamphlets that were advertising a then new, but now non existent business.

•I was a perfume hit man- dressed in a long, heavy, stained wedding dress that reeked of someone else’s armpit, and so pungent with the smell of stale perfume that I could taste it. Intoxicated by the various fumes, I walked the cosmetic department of an upscale department store with an expensive new fragrance in hand, trying to squirt passers by, and not piss them off in the process.

That was bad, but worse yet was my next job.

•I was a sandwich board. An unpalatable job, that had me wearing two pallets, with printed advertising on both boards. I was supposed to walk Daily Center in Chicago, the “Windy City”. My sandwich board had straps on the shoulders that attached the boards. I’ve since seen better designs, which have additional straps at the waist. Those waist straps serve an important purpose, as my experience will illustrate.

I had only been out a few minutes, when the front board, picked up by the wind, hit me in the face. Stunned, and a bit humiliated, I grabbed the board and held it down, and I started to walk again. Very soon however, the back board lifted, and flipped a few times. I was effectively being strangled by a sandwich board. How did I end up in that predicament? Was this turn of events going to end with me dying there in the Daily Center Plaza?

I tried to stop the progression of the attack with my hand. My fingers ended up in the tangle cutting off my circulation. I panicked as my fingers quickly turned blue, and my breathing became more restricted. I staggered to the building, passing the Picasso sculpture which was beginning to look less abstract as my thoughts became more so. I backed against the wall. Now sheltered from the wind, I began to disentangle myself from the straps. I looked at my watch. Only twenty minutes under my belt. This was going to be a long day. I remained close to the wall for the remainder of my sentence.

I did not return the next day.

Happy Labor Day to all you temps out there.
Sep 1, 2014
Nightmare Job
In honor of Labor Day in North America, tell us what’s the one job you could never imagine yourself doing.

6 thoughts on “The Temp

  1. Good gosh, Lydia! The temps we have around town here are those that stand on the street corner directing passersby to a store going out of business. Been going out for over a year now. And the sign flippers. Those smarties hawking e-cigarettes by flipping their signs around to garner your attention. No costumes, thankfully, but all day in the FL sun? No, thanks.


  2. I can just imagine what you must have looked like. My first job in the business world was as a stenographer. I got the job because I could take shorthand. The problem was I could write it, but I couldn’t read it. It wasn’t long before my kind boss found a Dictaphone machine for me to use. Guess he got tired of helping me decipher my notes.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.