Friday, September 28, 2007

My temporary deliverance

As part of my bid to temp (read: work with no commitments or rights; right up my street) for a couple months on arriving in Manchester until getting around to applying for proper jobs, on Tuesday I ended up starting work for DHL. No, not Lawrence, the Nottinghamshire author, but the parcel delivery company. Although given D H Lawrence's concern with the duhumanising effects of modernity, it could easily have been (did that link work? I'm not sure). Anyway, I then ended up ending work for them on Thursday. I was meant to be there for four weeks, but couldn’t last more than three days. Is that bad? I don’t think so; in fact I think it’s great, mainly because it means I’m not there anymore. I was intending on getting some straightforward, dull office work and avoiding call centre work altogether, but I somehow ended up not wanting to turn down work, agreeing to it, and thinking “it’s only four weeks”. Within twelve hours of that ill-fated decision I was offered two far more attractive propositions in straightforward, dull office work by a different agency. Typical. I felt obliged to stick to my DHL agreement because of the fierce rapport I’d developed with my recruitment rep Lisa, 25, of Sunderland, while registering at her agency.

Even though it wasn’t altogether horrific, I couldn’t face four weeks of it. I was one of the people you call if you miss a parcel delivery and find a card through the letterbox telling you to call and rearrange delivery. I think the main stumbling blocks between working there and my personal contentment were that I’m not a massive fan of (a) telephones, and (b) speaking to people. The day was a vicious cycle of being disenchanted with the boredom but simultaneously not wanting anyone to phone up, thus increasing the boredom. Everyone has to earn money somehow, and I’m sure call centre work is more suited to most people than it is to me, but frankly I would rather starve than do it any longer than I did. Looking around at the drained, pallid expressions of my fellow recruits, and witnessing the misplaced power trip of my ‘Team Leader’, made for a soul-destroying experience. But that’s all part and parcel (boom boom) of the job. Really the worst bit was that I didn’t even need to be there.

I’ll get back on to my mate Liz, 27, of Longsight, at the other agency. She was most disappointed upon hearing of my defection to a rival, and she’ll sort me out. I’ll be like some particularly worthless hooker within weeks, whoring myself around the city’s temporary employment opportunities at the whim of my pimp (Liz). And she’ll be feeding me crack to keep me reliant. It’s all a downward spiral from here on in (which, by now, I’ve often thought should've become just one word: hereonin. But it hasn’t, and probably for a good reason).

PS: Due to the absence of an internet connection in our flat thus far, all these blogs are being penned in various Internet cafes. Please accept my apologies for any decrease in content quality.


Blogger Dan said...

Oh the dreaded agency rounds; oh the two-timing of women called Lisa and Becky, the modern day versions of those 19th century dockyard managers who used to pick workers from the assorted masses outside the factory gates; the humouring of such sentences as “oh, so it says you’ve a politics degree here. Is that like Conservatives and Labour and that? Was any customer service training involved in that degree?”

Still, I got some fantastic work from temping. After graduation, I temped at a major insurance company in York who I’ll refer to here as Norwich Union. I was put in a room with a water cooler and a cracking view across the North Riding and asked to take staples out of photocopies of death certificates. It lasted for three months. Each daily batch took around 35 minutes to do, after which my hilariously over-qualified colleague Richard and I would spend the day flicking elastic bands at designated targets and playing hangman on flipcharts. Heady days, and heady days with a free hot drink vending machine to boot.

While I’m here, I have noticed that employment agencies are never, or very rarely, at floor level on the average British high street. For instance, I have seen Brook Street agencies in Edinburgh, Newcastle, York and Middlesbrough that are all on the first floor, and that is enough to base a theory on. Don’t they want people to see in? Isn’t taking half your wages enough of a money saver, or are the savings made from this policy a vital part of the business strategy?

I really don’t like them. Any of them.

October 01, 2007 12:49 pm  
Blogger Paddy said...

You're right, they're always on the first floor. And there always seems to be the forbidden zone where the consultants make and take all their phone calls, but you're never invited. They have separate rooms set aside for interviews and the like, as if allowing you too near the hub would reveal all the sordid secrets of temporary placements. The underhand deals between supposed rivals where they fax each other photocopies of people's humourous passport photos in exchange for job placements. And whenever Liz phones me up she always sounds breathless. The sooner I'm out of it all, the better.

October 01, 2007 1:14 pm  
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