Saturday, May 29, 2010

Woo Hoo!

Today was possibly - no definitely - the coolest I've had in quite a while. It made up for the whole last two weeks and all the roller coasters.

Yesterday afternoon I was starting to get bummed. I was counting down the hours until the Awesome Assignment was over. At that point I had a few hours left on Thursday, and then Friday , and then I would be sadly jobless. Cat Lady was obviously upset about my leaving, She wasn't happy about having to retrain someone for the summer, and she wasn't happy about losing me. That kind of made me feel a little better. I also kept thinking how much it sucked that for once I was losing a job and I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't miss too many days, or come in late too often, or screw up the work. For once I made it three months and I didn't get fired, warned, or even reprimanded. I loved the people, the job, the pay, even the commute! I won't try to tell you I didn't shed a few tears at the thought of never coming back.

That was when one of the other managers approached me because she heard that my assignment was ending and she needed someone to cover the receptionist desk for a few hours this afternoon. It wasn't like she was giving me a real job, she just needed someone to cover the phones while the Professional receptionist was on vacation for the afternoon. I haven't been on a switchboard in a while, but I have always said that I am not above filing, stapling, or even answering phones if it means a paycheck. Does that make me a corporate slut? Maybe, but it also makes me money.

Anyway, I agreed to handle the phones for hours, after all, it WAS the end of my assignment, so I shouldn't be doing much of anything else. And it would be the Friday before Memorial Day, so the call volume would be close to nil. There were a few different people taking turns handling the phones, including a few other admins and the Unnamed Temp (I seriously didn't find out her name. I'm sure she HAS a name, but apparently it wasn't important enough to pass on to me.) Each of us took a few minutes sitting at the front desk to get the hang of their particular phone system and make sure to know who let through the doors and who to transfer into the Eternal Hell of Automated Options. So, after lunch I went up to the desk for a few minutes to sit with the Professional Receptionist so I  That was apparently when everything turned around. I just didn't know it yet.

I have learned some very important things in my history as The Eternal Temp. First, there are two types of people who work a front desk. One is the Brainless Pretty Face whose actual identity shifts quite frequently but the personality (and level of professional ability) is usually predictable - pretty, not too bright, and usually looking for the next executive to spend money on her. The other front desk person is The Professional Receptionist. This woman has been in the business for years, and you can tell. She knows the ins and outs of working the phones, preventing pushy sales people from getting past the front door, and what each executive wants on their salads. That brings me to the second most important thing I have learned - be nice to everybody all time. You never know when something you say will come back to bite you. Also, you never know who might have enough sway to affect important decisions. Take the Professional Receptionist (PR), for instance. She has been with the company for almost as many years as the owners and knows everything that goes on and is also very willing to share it (confidentially of course...) Pissing this lady off is not wise. She will burn you simply by placing a few words to the right people. Apparently the Unnamed Temp (UT) hadn't figured this out. She also didn't figure out that surfing the net, talking on the cell phone, and visiting with other people (instead of doing work) will piss off the PR.

I hate to advance on the shoulders of someone elses failures, but sometimes it happens that way. I know I have been the Unnamed Temp in years past. You live, you get fired, you learn. Such is the life of the jobless and largely untrained young professional. Your empty desk will be filled by someone who did the job better than  you did (or at least screwed up less than you did.) That said, if she screwed up and got fired, it was her fault and not mine. I just happened to be there when her spot became vacant. Apparently the people at this company don't waste time on people they don't have faith in. They  will however, bend over backwards to keep people they like.

Somewhere between yesterday afternoon and this morning, the UT made the final, fatal mistake of offending the PR. I'm not exactly sure if she really messed up that bad, or if PR happened to like the way I already knew things, but by this morning that same manager was asking me if I would take over the reception desk on Tuesday as well while PR was taking another vacation day. A few hours later (I after I agreed vehemently!) the manager was back asking if I would have come and a word with her. My first thought (of course) was that I had somehow I screwed up. Actually, she asked me if I would mind continuing to work in a different department. It might be a slightly lower pay, but it would keep me around until they could find a permanent position for me.

Wait a minute, you're telling me I can stay?!?! I can come back next week and keep coming back until you can make me an employee as well? It was hard for me not to trip over myself trying to accept without sounding like a fool idiot! The UT apparently didn't know she wouldn't be coming back, so I wasn't allowed to all out celebrate, but yes, they wanted me to stay.

So, the Awesome Assignment has been extended once again, this time indefinitely. There is a temp position I will be filling  in the Marketing department (with some more of the coolest and sweetest people I have ever met!) until one of them comes back from maternity leave in September. At least, the position is there until September. If my position comes available in the Accounting department where I have been for the past few months, well, I am first in line for it.

I still don't want to believe it for fear of jinxing the whole thing. Mostly I am afraid of screwing up again, like I have in the past. Can I really do this? Can I get to work and do my job and be a mom and a wife and everything else? I have done it in the past, though I was younger and had fewer children then. I had to explain to all my girls tonight why this is important to me. Why I have made this decision to work and not be at home all day. I realized that my girls don't remember what it was like to have me working full time. I haven't been able to hold a job since I was first pregnant with EG.  In my mind, I am a woman. I work for a living and wear make-up and dress shoes. The past six years haven't felt like me.

Going back to work and really being able to hold a job makes me remember who I used to be when I looked in the mirror and smiled. I suppose it really should just be a way to make a living, but it has turned into the way I measure my success. Not monetary success. Actually its more like the way I measure my accomplishment. How far I have managed to come compared to where I used to be.

So, for now I have a job. I'm not where I used to be, but I have hope that I will be able to acheive some measure of what I used to be.


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