Friday Happy Hour: Temp Jobs

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For today's installment of our Friday Happy Hour series, I'm handing the keys to Brett Savage. He's the one responsible for yesterday's 'Nietzsche, Clinton, Yorke or Yoda?' quote quiz, plus recent challenges on '80s movies, Shakespeare and the Nintendo Entertainment System. Brett told me that his stint as a mental_floss quiz master is unquestionably the greatest temp job he's stumbled upon. Then he told me about his other temp jobs. So today's question is this: what's the worst temp job you've ever held? Here's Brett...

ryan-the-temp.jpg I move around a lot, and finding writing jobs in new cities isn't the easiest thing to do. Unfortunately, those kinds of jobs don't grow on trees like money does, so I've spend a fair amount of time (way more than I should have) in the temporary employment game. If you keep an open mind and maintain an attitude of knowing unconcern about whatever outlandish and random things these companies have you doing when you're indentured in their employ, you can get by tolerably well and even learn a thing or two. Maybe.

Por ejemplo: in my time as a temp I've learned that having a "working knowledge" of Microsoft Office is "by far the most valuable asset an employee can have." That actually being busy isn't nearly as important as LOOKing busy "“ Costanza was absolutely spot on when he observed that looking annoyed will trick people into thinking you're overwhelmed with work (shuffling papers around distractedly and sighing clangorously will work wonders, too). That the word "collating" doesn't really mean collating at all...it means "stuffing envelopes." That birthday parties and other related office celebrations will always be painfully awkward for you. That bending and reshaping paper clips into the those weird jumping-grasshopper-things CAN entertain you for hours. And, finally, that the vast majority of the time you realize that you most likely hurt, rather than helped the company you were working for. Good stuff.

What was the worst temp job you've ever had? I'll get the ball rolling with my worst working experience. I was sent by a temp agency to a cereal manufacturing company. They had me sit in a room with three other temps and measure the precise weight of the freeze-dried cranberry stuff they put in each box. This process involved opening each box of cereal, dumping the contents into this quasi-sieve, psuedo-colander device to separate the flakes from the cranberry thingies, then measuring the weight of the cranberries in the box and recording the information on an absurdly elaborate chart. I lasted two hours before I'd reached the limits of my boredom endurance and left. The only thing worse than actually doing the job was having the woman sitting next to me attempt to convince me (or herself) that "this isn't that bad...once you get the measuring part down okay." Too true.

Your turn.

Previously on mental_floss:

Your Worst First Jobs
Your Worst Interview Experience
Your Worst Interview Experience (as an interviewer)

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November 30, 2007 - 3:13am
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