Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Economic 180's

I'm a serial temp employee. I figure, I'm young enough not to need the health insurance and old enough to be placed in the long-term contract positions, lazy enough to enjoy the way they just hand me a job and I show up and have a strong enough itch to enjoy changing positions every year or so. Plus, when it comes time for team building exercises that involve trust falls and hug-a-thons, I always get to use the tried and true line of my ancestors - "Dude, I"m a temp."

In any case, over my years of temping, you see that temps are treated a lot of different ways depending on the corporate culture. At some offices, it doesn't matter that you've worked there six months and you'll be there for another 10, they still won't give you a name tag for your desk and half the office calls you "the temp with the glasses." At others, co-workers adopt you into the fold immediately and forget that you're a temp - when the company gives away goodies, they're for everyone, not just the actual employee employees. Either way, it never really mattered to me, but lately, an interesting phenomena has taken hold - Jobloss-itis.

because if you're going to fire someone, you should at least do it with flair.

I temp for one of those really big, international conglomerates that owns a few fistfuls of companies in varying degrees of success and failure. Truth be told, I've never worried about being hired on permanently. M, our brand new student, is set to graduate in a few years, and when he does, we'll be moving. Is it worth it to bust my bosses balls and insist that I get hired on for a few months of health benefits and some paid vacation? To me, not really. If they hire me, yay - i'll be happy to soak up the summer sun on my days off and get my teeth cleaned - but if they don't, I'm not one to feel worried or slighted.

That's how I felt until recently.

Now, if they tried to hire me, I think I might say no.

You see, one of the new fringe benefits of being a temp is that, while once we were the expendible workforce - the people to be cast aside when economic times got tough- now, temps are the lifeblood of a corporation trying to cut costs and stay afloat. They find women and men in their early to mid twenties who don't really care about pension plans because we've already started our own IRA's and who aren't all that concerned with vacation days for sick children because we don't have any. To boot, we're computer savvy, willing to work odd hours and, best of all, we're inexpensive because we don't carry that weighty benfits package. Today, it's the employees that are getting let go and being replaced by temps rather than the other way around.

So, today, when my co-workers fret over layoffs in other branches of the corporation or get nervous when they hear that we might be sold off, it takes everything I have to force myself not to smile and say "Dude, I'm a temp."

Because even if I do get let go from this contract - my temp agency will have me working somewhere in a matter of days. Now that's job security.

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