Things I Learned From Being a Temp Worker

I recently signed up with a temp agency. My goals were twofold:

  1. To make money (obviously).
  2. To expose myself to different situations that I would never find myself in regularly (which I could then use as fodder for my writing).

I succeeded wildly on both accounts.

This past week, I worked 9-5 for a telecommunications company. They had a booth set up at my local university. My job was to hand out magnets and try to convince people to sign up for internet. First of all, let me say that, despite the fact that my legs felt like they were going to fall off each night, I had a really great time. The two girls I worked with were bubbly and super friendly, and my manager was just a genuinely awesome human being. Despite the fact that all three of us magnet-pushers were temp workers, he treated us like valued employees, and gave us a great little bonus at the end of the week.

As for the magnet-pushing itself … talk about fascinating. I got to come into close contact with every range of the human spectrum. It’s really interesting to see how different people reacted when offered the free magnets. The coolest part was that the people I expected to react a certain way often did the total opposite.

Here, in no particular order, are some of the reactions I got when I extended a magnet, smiled, and said, “Would you like a magnet?”

  • Thanks.
  • No, thanks.
  • No.
  • I already have one.
  • I don’t need one.
  • Sweet! I’ll put this on my fridge.
  • I have about 20. Sure, I’ll take more.
  • **totally ignores my existence**
  • Uh … what is it? No, no, I don’t need that.
  • **politely declines in foreign language**
  • **shies away from me, travelling a meter in the wrong direction and nearly crashing into other passersby**
  • I already have internet.
  • **pretends to take out cell phone to avoid eye contact**
  • **polite wave of hand to indicate no**
  • Sorry.
  • No, but I’ll take one of those pens.
  • Sorry, I have no hands. (or “Sorry, my hands are full”)
  • **glares and stalks off**
  • **glances up, then ignores me and walks away**
  • **stops mid-stride, stares at the magnet, then backs away, nearly crashing into other passersby**

That’s just a small sampling, of course. It astonished me how many ways people could come up with to say “No”. The most fun for me was when they went out of their way to skirt around me, and nearly crashed into other people as a result. What did they think I would do, jump at them if they came too close? Bite at their nose? Grab them and force them to sign-up at magnet-point? Is a magnet even a viable weapon?

I also had a fun encounter with an older lady. When I offered her a magnet, she took one look at the company name, then flipped her proverbial s**t. Β She started shouting about how the company was useless, and how they screwed her and her son over, and how she’ll never buy from them again, etc. My co-worker came over to help me deal with her, and had to ask the woman to stop shouting and leave several times before the woman stormed off. I’ve worked in customer service a few times before, but fortunately I’ve never encountered the bats**t insane customer type before. It was annoying at the time, but I find it really amusing in retrospect. And it taught me a valuable lesson, which I will now impart to you all below:

If you want to rant at someone, check first to see if they’re a minimum wage employee. If they are, ask for a manager. The minimum wage employee can do absolutely nothing to help you, other than have their day ruined by you. And remember that, when complaining, the manager will go out of their way to be unhelpful if you’re acting like a raving psychopath.

Since my WordPress friends are all intelligent, rational individuals, I’m sure this lesson doesn’t apply to you. Still, I feel it had to be said, even if just to remind us all that minimum wage employees have to put up with a lot of unpleasant things for very little compensation.

To wrap things up, my first stint as a temp employee went really well. I met some fascinating characters who will undoubtedly be showing up in my future books. And I have a nice paycheck from the telecommunications company that will mostly go to paying my telecommunications bill. Would that be considered ironic? I can never tell.

Thought-provoking link of the day:

“‘Trampire’: Why the Public Slut Shaming of Kristen Stewart Matters for Young Women”

Random Internet Awesomeness of the day:

This one takes me back. Ahh, good times. Warning: the F-word is used in this video.

Categories: Random | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “Things I Learned From Being a Temp Worker

  1. I reposted the link for the Huffington Post on my blog. It is very important for young women today to not get sucked into the warped thinking of “reality” stars and the hollywood world. The article highlights what is wrong with social media.

  2. Couldn’t agree more on your wisdom. I once worked the phone for an ISP. Any time a customer would be rude or even hateful on a call, I’d jot down their modem serial number and “accidentally” reboot their modem throughout the day. Oops!

  3. I work in retail and always try and use the people that are mean/insane in my books! πŸ˜€ They can be great for either totally screwing over your main character, or just giving you ideas for the future. I had one woman tell me to go to hell at my work because we didn’t carry plastic bags (and at x-mas no less)! Then the person behind her told me she had every right to say so 0_0′
    At least retail and customer service is great for experiences though! lol

    • And the stupidest part is that the customers actually expect you to have some control over the plastic bags. Like, if they complain enough, you’ll activate your bag-creating super powers and produce some out of thin air.

  4. Love it!
    The creative ways to say no reminds me of the time some street sales guy was about to bail be up and I said to him as I passed him, “Sorry mate, I’m not interested”. I’m sure he waited until I’d walked far enough so he could yell at such a volume to be heard a whole block away, “Neither am I!”
    I turned so he could see me laughing. πŸ™‚

    • Lol! By the end of my last day, I was giving the magnets away with the sales pitch “Take this magnet! It will give you super-strength! Results haven’t been proven, but are you really willing to take that chance?”

      • Super strength? In Australia at least, most of those give-away promotional magnets are barely strong enough to hold a single piece of confetti to the roof of a fridge. But creating doubt is a good tactic. πŸ˜‰

  5. I really wish you hadn’t added the parentheses bit after “I have no hands”. That would have been a pretty good excuse for someone fully abled.

  6. It is truly shocking how rude the general public can be and, in re: the Kristen Stewart media blitz, how misogynistic it still is. And we are in the 21st century.

    • I think part of that is the anonymity of the internet. If people can bash whoever they want without fear of reprisal, then there’s nothing stopping them from getting as cruel and cut throat as possible.

  7. This was hilarious! I love all the different reactions. I give mad props to anyone who can last in any sort of sales position, it takes guts!

    • After a week, I was mentally and physically exhausted. I can’t imagine doing it full time … although once upon a time I was a full-time waitress over the summer, and I appear to have survived that experience. So I guess either my memory or my imagination is faulty.

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