Submitted by ludd on February 4, 2010

Dear PW,

The laST FEW months I've experimented with the temporary work scene. What struck me most about it was the sickening sweet etiquette that all agencies employ; from the lilting voice of the receptionist to the saccharin interviewer who politely impresses how valuable you the employee are to the agency, and how very much they care about you (or worse yet they use a videotape machine to tell you the same; to the bloodless purges when they whisk you off a job without ever telling you you're being fired - - less brutal than the loud knock on the door by midnight thugs, but no less effective in making sure that you disappear without a trace.

In my journeys through the temp world, I managed to drop loose journal entries, like a trail to retrace my steps back through the labyrinth. Of the three excerpted here, the first two are unretouched spilling during practice time for typing test at interviews; the third entry was composed without benefit of a typewriter.


(1) What am I diing here,

taking a typing test when I hardly even know how to type -- I'm up here on the 13th floor with my misspleed words. Can you spell "authority," "management," success"? Can you pour coffee into the xerox machine till it cooks? What is the true nature of success? Is it taking a dive from the 13th floor to a trampoline below and then parachuting back up again/?

Here I go.....remember a coulpe of weeks ago. Working at Macy the kind of terminal boredom that seeps into your bones the way zero cold does, 5:30 pm came,and as soon as I hit the ground floor I start ed running for the exits--emerged onto the street, gave a whoop and yelled `I'm human Again!", and all the passersby looked at me and smiled, as if they kniew, "he's been working at Macy's today." Iwent to Telfords to pick up some clove cigarettes before they tured into pumkins, was walking fast up Kearny street, encountered a womanat one corner who looked like someone I know, and she gave an enthusiastic hello and I responded with an equally enthusiastic hello, and she said, "NO, not you!"


(2) Another fuckin; Ibm selectric! I thought of using this machine to type my resume, but I don't think I habe time, plus by aboninable ytyping accuracy1/21/2I ought to at least by able to start training myself to use bh little fingers more, just like I'm tying to do on the bass guitar.

i like this machine a lot -- wish I could steal it I could use the practice. What? Practice stealing or typing? Well, if I stole it, I could get practice doing both%! Such miserable weather outside -- Ikept dodhing people's umbrellas -- why can't these financial district types just learn to wal inthe rain? It might actually soften up some of that head0processing that's become hardened in there since day 1. Is this a comedy/in how many unnatura; acts -- that this is where I get all my practice typing, here in the life0forsaken fanancial district where i gert to use the typewriters for free. Is anything else in the financial district free? writers for Well. walking is cheap, Idon't know if I'd call it free. Gos, this receptionist! (I'm at Volt)Did she learn to talk off aof the t.v.? She's like a characature of a syrupy rece[1/2[ionst, though I bet she can type better than me -- better than that--Ishouldn't complain- like this morning in the living room, unemployed MIchael, and unemployed me just coming back from Food Stamps, while hippie dope-dealer roommate walks in, sits plops on the couch, & starts counting his hundred dollar bills, right under our noses -- I found it a tad bit insulting, like driving past those Bank of America "We got the money!" billboards thsi summer -- why don;t you rub our faces in poverty a little bit0, but just a little bit -- I'm not really complaining, just observing -- on this, another one of ny typing test/loose journal entries--call me the Herb Caen of the financial district underfround.


(3People don't like the word "fuck." It's unprofessional, or so my agency counsleor told me after I used it while being hassled by a security guard when I showed up for my new job this morning. So I became the first job casualty of '84, pulled off the job less than two hours into the first working day fo the new year. Temporary agencies remind me of the old style Chinese marriages, where it's possible for a husband to lose face by any wrong thing his wife says or does. In this case, I can cause my agency to lose face simply by opening my mouth at a given moment, and leave the agency scrambling on the phone to save face and arrange a quickie divorce.

G.B. - San Francisco