From Our ReadersTemporary Highs for a Lowly TempFrom Our Readers

If you’re like me, you’re a firm believer (not belieber) in temp work is better than no work, and you would have signed up to a temping agency. Every morning you iron a shirt, spritz some sprays and wait by the phone for your daily assignment. Sometimes the phone rings, sometimes it doesn’t (because you left it on silent and you couldn’t hear it over the kettle boiling you donut!) and you are given a contact name, an address and half an hour to get to the contact name at the address. It’s kind of cool, skipping past pedestrians and hopping over gutters in a pencil skirt; you feel a bit like an agent (secret not real estate).

You arrive at the destination. It’s a big office with smooth surfaces, air conditioning and jazzy lamps. Anne or Carol or Lynn, sits you behind a desk, tells you the usual girl is off sick (hungover), then demonstrates how to answer the phone and forward any incoming calls to Anne or Carol or Lynn. Then Anne or Carol or Lynn leaves you for the day to stare at a screen, unsure if it’s appropriate to check “personal accounts” until that glorious freedom giving 5 o’clock. Basically, it’s boring as batberries, but you’re getting paid and let’s face it, if you were at home you would spend the morning checking personal accounts and the afternoon squeezing blackheads.

Of course your first priority is fulfilling the job description yadda, yadda, yadda. I don’t need to recite this; your temping agent specified the deal this morning on the phone at quite an impressive speed (why do they talk so fast? I’m always under the impression my temping agent is calling me from her treadmill). So what I intend to do is create a list of desk entertainment or deskertainment, to get you through your day as an office temp. The key to deskertainment is to be as discreet as possible so that Anne or Carol or Lynn will have no idea that you’re having staples and staples of fun!

  • Answer the phone in a foreign accent. Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s an oldie but a goodie and we’re just warming up here.
  • Beat your personal breath. Take a deep breath and hold it in for as long as you can. Note your current record, wait a couple of minutes and do it again. It’s strangely satisfying beating your PB.

Warning: holding your breath for an excessive time can result in the appearance of constipation and can lead to passing out.

  • Count your teeth with your tongue.
  • Count the lint on your tights (not with your tongue).
  • Conduct a classic switcheroo. The office temp is commonly stationed at the front of house. Here you have a steady flow of employees and clients entering and exiting the office providing you ample opportunity for some fun (and the perfect perch to suss out the office dreamboat). Swap the ink of a blue pen for the ink of a black pen. When a wondering suit realises they have left their pen in their other Ralph Lauren, they will ask to borrow yours to jot down an important figure or a doodle of Greg from accounts. The almost unrecognisable expression of confusion on the face of the pen borrower will provide many nose LOLs.
  • Breathe the tune of your favourite song through your nose. Then progress to the Stars Wars theme.
  • The hi or deny. As previously stated, you will generally be placed at the front of house. Every time someone passes greet them with a friendly “hello”. You will be surprised to note how many say “hello” back and how many just smile. Make an assumption that the smilers are lazy and rude and don’t offer them a coffee when you’re squeezing past them to make your own in the kitchen cupboard.

Note: Offer a biscuit to the ones who give more in terms of conversation, like a “How are you?” Bake a cake for the ones who ask for your name.

  • Know your nuts. By now you would have reached lunch time – the perfect opportunity to get some supplies. What you will need is a packet of mixed nuts.
  • After you have messaged your entire phone book about how bored you are and how bald Greg is, buy a bag ‘o nuts from the store on the corner and head back to your desk.
  • Empty some into your pocket, or if you don’t have a pocket perhaps there is a draw (mind the ink stains) to your immediate left or right. With your eyes closed, select a nut at random. You are allowed three solid chews and then you must guess which nut you have tasted. For nut enthusiasts this may seem easy. But just you wait you nutheads, after about ten nuts, they all begin to taste the same and distinguishing the flavours becomes much more difficult. Haza!
  • Keyboard Find-A-cronym. It’s exactly what it says on the tin. Using the rules of Find-A-Word puzzles (letters must be in a horizontal, vertical or diagonal line) expand as many acronyms as you can find on your keyboard. For example: GHJKL: Greg has jelly, knobbly legs.

It must be 5pm now, or close to it, so fill in your time sheet with your left hand, say goodbye to the office dreamboat and call it a day.

By Bettina Tyrrell on her blog.

Feature image via.

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  1. Hahaha creative. Innovative. And touching. A true masterpiece of a story!!

  2. I WILL be utilizing some of your suggestions! Being a lowly temp myself, I thank you for this!

  3. I wish I had this list when I was temping! I did all sorts of weird stuff like make paperclip chains, draw pictures, make lists of unimportant things, like animals. It was soooooo boring, but this list really would have spiced it up!

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