The Temp Job

Jim Halperts face of reluctant contentment spasms across my eyes and interrupts my daydreams and I hear him say, “This was supposed to be a temp job.”

I’m at a coffee shop enjoying a banana chocolate chip muffin and I see Jim Halperts face. 

I’m at a pub with a cold beer, biting into a bacon burger and I see Jim Halperts face. 

Basically my food experiences are being ruined. 

Behind the face – if you haven’t watched The Office than you’ll understand nothing about the imagery and real world comparisons I’m providing – of course is a heap of self loathing because Jim finds himself at his “temp” job for years upon years, never having  planned on his career being that of a paper salesman. 

Every day at this temp job I’m reminded of The Office. People really do gather at the water cooler! I wasn’t sure if you were aware, it’s a real phenomenon. 

The break room is like a cold dead silence where people with no affect congregate and mention terms I don’t understand and then when I ask I instantly regret doing so. 

Then I promptly return to creating alternate universes in my mind where I never knew those terms existed or they were found to be obsolete in my cat infultrated jungle where Jane Austen is alive and the cast of Friends roams about searching for coffee beans and Meryl Streep owns a bar on the outskirts of the beach called Fuck the Patriarchy and all is well, so well. 

My “temporary” job has suddenly shifted however, and I am now being expected to take over the next level position in a matter of months, planting me firmly into a full time employee with their company. 

Cue panic. 

Anyone who knows me has been forced to endure my griping about this job and nearly almost everyone has said back to me “it doesn’t seem that bad” and/or “it’s only temporary.”

They are right first of all, it really isn’t that bad! You look past the boredom and unfulfilled sense of purpose and you think about the coffee cart at the building across the way that has four different medium roasts at any given time, the many compliments about your new slacks, your boss brought in sandwiches for everyone just because! 

You meld into the flow of a temp job until you are in a conversation with a friend years later and hear yourself explaining investment opportunities, and then remember “this was supposed to be a temp job.” Cue Jim Halperts face. 
(Spoiler Alert) Jim Halpert eventually did get out to pursue his dreams, which I know I will also. In the moment though, you can feel trapped, like you were meant to do more but it seems too far away. 

I was sitting in this conference room with my bosses and one of their associates and that associates employees and it felt surreal. How did I get here? How have we been sitting here for two hours talking about THIS? Also did we go back in time where men talk and the women jot down notes? Coming from progressive work environments, rooted in activism and inclusivity, this all feels like a far cry from where I have been and many steps backwards.

Nevertheless I proceed in pressing my new pants and telling office coworkers that they were 40% off, sipping on my medium roast, talking to my stapler about who I want to be when I grow up, making Jim Halpert faces out the window since there is no camera for me to do it too and thinking about if all my female heroes still lived. 

Maybe next time Jim Halperts face crosses my mind I’ll remind myself FREE SANDWICHES! 


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