Daily Prompt: I was a Temp

Back  Garden

They said this was just temporary. Only a few months. I had to find my own temporary solution. They removed my space outside, but only for a summer. Where there was a large table big enough to eat meals, to work on the computer and even room left for a few flowers, it has all had to be reduced because there are changes. But this is only temporary they say, although how long is temporary. This temporary will be until October due to the renovation work on the building where I live.

I was once a temporary in the real sense of the word. We called them Temps in England. I was a shorthand-typist by occupation and worked in the City of London. It was in the good old days when the computer was still a typewriter and if you were lucky if you had an electric computer, as they were usually reserved for the director’s secretaries. However, I had a firm job working for a shipping company in London, near the city. After a year in the same job I decided  to search for something different. I went to an agency and signed on as a temp. This suited me. I worked for the agency, had no paid holidays and my wages were by the hour and notice could also be given by the hour.

Perhaps it might not sound so posiive but the wages were a third more than normal and I never knew where I would be working until the end of the week. The offices where I worked were mainly in the City of London. Once I had a great job in a chartered accountants in a newly built high office block next to the Mansion House. We had a selection of quality biscuits with the coffee in the morning as well as the tea in the afternoon, served in porcelain cups. I was assigned to one of the accountants, a city gent, and they all wore the uniform of the bowler hat and umbrella. It was a great job. I was only there for a couple of weeks (unfortunately) whilst one of the girls was on hoiday.

However not all jobs were perfect. I worked for the warehouse of Thomas Cooks in Farringdon, the british travel agency, but they also did goods transports. It was a terrible place to work, and all the girls, about 8 of us in the office, were temp, because they never found anyone to work there permanently. The office was situated above the canteen kitchens. I never ate there, and from the smell that we were getting all day, I would not have watnted to. Our men were many in the main office, from all parts of the world, and we girls were assigned to four men each. This meant we took their dictation and wrote their letters. If you ran out of work, there was one person that always had something. This was my mistake. I often ran out of work, and helped him with the result that he also had no more correspondence to dictate. It seems this had never happend before.

The next week when I reported to work on Monday morning I had a new list of men to work for. The four top managers of the department. I complained and they did go a little way to change things, but I was probably too good. I stayed there for a complete winter, because I knew I had a sure job throughout the Winter as they would never find anyone wanting to work there otherwise. Temps were usually only fully occupied in Summer because of the holiday season.

I worked in an office for engineering in the city and it was the beginning of the photo copying deivices. They were not yet Xerox style, but a bath with developing liquid. You had to dip the  positive and negative paper into the bath and pull it through somehow and got a copy, but you could not really call it a photo copy. It was a messy job.

I worked in the local government office for social workers typing the social cases, and I learned that not everyone had such happy lives. One woman had a child that was yellow and there were debates going on who the father was, as her husband said it was not his and probably the chinese neighbour.

And so life went on. I picked up my wages in the temp office once a week and eventually gave in my notice. They were a little annoyed as I did not get my new job through their agency.  I told them I had asked a couple of times if they every had anything abroad but they did not, and now I had found a job in Switzerland. That was the end of my temporary working situation, but I loved it this way of work. Almost every week a new adventure and the pay was great. This all happened in 1965.

Daily Prompt: I was a Temp

12 thoughts on “Daily Prompt: I was a Temp

  1. I worked as a temp when I got back from China. It was fun, except for the week I worked in the stocks and bonds section of a bank. That was awful. Not only did I not understand what I was doing (but I did it OK which says something, I don’t know what) the office was dingy and the pace was absurd. HUGE crises one minute, the morgue the next. My favorite temp job was working dispatch for Atlantic Richfield Oil Company. The offices were beautiful, my co-workers were nice, I got to learn a lot of new things and did it long enough to feel a part of the place as I was temping for a woman on maternity leave. All my temp jobs were in downtown Denver which I also liked. The pay was great.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds similar to the system we had at that time. I loved temp work, the best I ever did. I like change and challenge and I learned a lot. And of course the money was great. If you had no work, you had no money, but I always had work and I was free to come and go. Probably the system today is different, but at that time I loved it.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I too worked as a temp. In New Zealand in 1969. It was great fun and filled with crazy experiences. I remember working for a small goods company and seeing the police chase one of the employees through the office. Another where only three women worked together yet always addressed each other formally Mrs this and Mrs that. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Temp work was interesting and you were making new experiences continuously. In Switzerland it is custom to speak to new acquaintances using. Mr. And Mrs. Not so much amongst the youngsters. You formally tell someone to call you by your first name, but usually if you are the elder. It is all to do with the language and its “you” words.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I worked temp or “on contract” or “freelance” — all variations on the same thing — for half my career. The pay was better than regular work and as long as I could get Garry’s health insurance, it was fine. Got a little complicated when he stopped working … But it was interesting. And you didn’t have to stay in a job you didn’t like.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There were many agencies in London where you could sign on for temp work. You did not have the security as firm employment, no pay if you were sick, but you were free to come and go and the pay was more. I enjoyed the suspense of new places.


  4. I’ve done temp work in the past…. It was ok, but can’t say it’s an experience I’d want to do over. I was always having difficulty getting them to understand my skills set or my available schedule.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was years ago when I did it and was not usually more than a week in one place with a couple of exceptions. I was in it for the fun of the experience and of course for the money. It was before the age of computers, you were lucky if you had an electric typewriter. The work was just dictation, shorthand and typing correspondence. There was not really time or scope for more development. I was lucky as I gained a lot of experience and afterwards got my job in another country, Switzerland.

      Liked by 1 person

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