LET'S Celebrate 7am

Here is a cupcake I scored yesterday at my temp job, I initially thought it said 'Let's celebrate 7am' and thought wow that is the most fucked up thing EVER to write on a cupcake, but apparently there is some dude called Tom who had a birthday.

When I met with the temp agency last year I said "nothing unethical, like mining or gambling" but temp agencies listen to you about as well as ex boyfriends, and I had listened back about as well at the moment I was sleepily told the company name. So it hit me gently in my gut as I dropped in to the corporate reception chair that I was facing a wall of eight TVs playing sports channels and looked over at the ‘interactive’ coffee table where you could place bets. Every surface in the room was shiny in a way designed to remind you that you are a greasy mess that leaves fingerprints everywhere like a fucking snail. Gambling.

Now I can’t be too judgey about SplodgeBet (gahaha of course I can) as I spent the last few years dabbling in political gambling like the creep-nerd I can be. But that was until Hillary, when I and the planet stopped winning. So there I was dressed up like a ‘businesswoman – Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion style’. Tight black suit, high heels, corporate bun. This is day one temp attire, each day after this I regress in steps until I look like a broke art student that has stolen an access pass. But also the corporate bun hid a mess as there was no time for me to wash my grease-addled hair when the temp agency called me at 9.05.

It is my cyclical destiny to take shitty temp jobs every few years and I have come to accept it, like a pap smear it will be awful, uncomfortable, but quick. Hunting for the corporate glass tower that you will soon slide down and out of like swirling down a giant beanstalk as quickly as you can. When you temp, struggling in to your most boring job attire feels like playing dress ups for a compulsory school play and you fail to figure out exactly how the phone works and there is a haze to it all that is nice after the sharpness of life.

On the first day at Splodgebet I found out from Sog, with his very perfect hair who sat next to me on the gross shiny reception desk- that Bailey had been fired. He fake lowered his voice without changing the decibels to tell me this, and I became very aware of the office chair underneath me, where Bailey sat the same time yesterday before being given the boot, hence them needing a temp. Sog exaggeratedly told me I must not tell anyone about the circumstances of Bailey being sacked, but throughout the week he would ask various people if they had heard then tell them she had been let go, savouring and rolling the words around his mouth. He started to enjoy telling people more and more.

On my first day more firings happened, the first person was ushered in totally oblivious – but as each new person was brought down the building sank in to a dark stressed cloud of anomosity. I found out later that as the HR chicks clippily reminded each other in front of me to knock out the email and phones of the person just ushered in, on another floor someone had yelled out "have emails stopped working?" and the realisation set in that each vanishing person was being electronically culled- the jig was up. The brisk choreography of firing was like watching a Wall Street movie except no one was attractive and I don’t think boxes were being given out to carry personal effects home in. Or if they were, fire-ee Damian chose not to use his, as a colleague lugged a ratty box of desk shit to me the next day to sort out and courier.

I asked the HR chicks if I could call Damian to advise I was couriering his things and they looked at each other in fear and said no, I could pack everything but not contact or ship until I heard back from them. It was like someone had died – bubblewrapping a couple of books, a rolled newspaper, two shiny condoms packets, half a strip of Claratyne, a ten dollar note and a fuckload of silver change, a beer stubby, about 8 white cables which I rolled up inside the beer stubby, a framed photo of a horse and tupperware presumably from his lunch the day he was fired. I wrapped up everything over-meticulously and individually, for some reason wanting this stranger to know I had wasted as much time and bubble wrap from Splodgebet as possible. I am not sure if he found the over-packaging weird or even noticed, but I was trying to imbue his shitpile of detritus with some kind of message.

Later that day I said semi-sweetly ‘Mr Splodge’ reaching half-heartedly over the desk to shake hands, "call me Mud" he said. He was as ick as you would imagine the CEO of SplodgeBet to be. He smiled like he was doing me a favour then walked off. Sog’s posture would change like a meerkat whenever someone he deemed important walked by. It was totally repulsive to watch, especially when Mr Splodge walked past. Later Loulandra the PA to Splodge, chatted to Sog at the desk about Splodges last company – cooing about how brilliant the exec team was as though they were heart surgeons. Sog replied "that’s amazing" with a tone of voice most people would only use on like baby pandas at the zoo. She was talking about how Splodge had grown SplodgeStartBetter from a million dollar thing to a hundred of millions dollar thing. I wanted to chirp in over-merrily "just imagine all the lives ruined – I mean, the views here are amazzzzzzing!!" but I just kept scrolling through pictures of vintage glassware - the numbing powers of google image search can get you through most things.

Loulandra and Sog’s lack of criticality of the social scourge of gambling made me want to throw up, but other people were catching on like the courier who asked Sog "what’s it like to work somewhere evil?" gahahahaha. Also, there was an underbelly of desperation that permeated the hard shiny corners of the building and so many staff were voluntarily fucking off, every day. The plants were being watered, fresh fruit was piled up in the tea rooms, sports tickets were being gifted out, there was endless supply of Nutrigrain and possibly the best city views in the whole CBD, yet the whole building felt off kilter. But the ‘People and Culture’ team were trying so hard to boost morale whilst hopping over the rolling heads of people they were firing that anything seemed possible.

By my second day Sog was acting all buddy-like with me, using phrases like ‘I have to go take a slash’ and at one point giving me a five second neck rub as he walked past. Dude was 25 and living in the Trumpian era I guess. Now don’t get me wrong - neck rubs are great if your co-workers are hot. But meerkat Sog, not so much. Late on Friday he asked what I had planned after work and I declared I was going home to make myself a dark and stormy, put on cotton clothing and watch the Rachel Maddow show (a lie only if you don’t swap the dark and stormy for some valium taken with rice milk). “That sounds so good that I want to come along” said Sog. I said nothing.

Monday morning and I trudged back to Splodge. Sog said with more verve than he had ever displayed "I hate when email is down!!!!" He almost punched the air in frustration. I yawned in reply, but wanted to punch his face. People were still leaving, mostly voluntarily now, left, right and centre. Literally access security cards where slithering across the reception desk from every angle. It all reminded me of Henry Miller describing the Cosmodemonic Telegraph Company in 'Tropic of Capricorn' that remains the best writing on corporate fuckery of all time: “the day always broke with confusion, complaints, constipation and vacancies. It also began with loud smelly farts, with bad breaths, with ragged nerves, with epilepsy, with meningitis, with low wages, with back pay that was overdue, with worn-out shoes, with corns and bunions, with flat feet and broken arches, with pocketbooks missing and fountain pens lost or stolen, with telegrams floating in the sewer, with threats from the vice-president and advice from the managers.”

Sog kept whining that he wanted me to stay on permanently, which was like having someone sitting next to you at work tell you repeatedly that they want to give you radiation poisoning. Loulandra asked me to help her with credit card reconcilations, jamming the fancy thousand dollar meals that the top Splodgites were having in to an online spreadsheet. Sog hovered annoyed, "when do you think you will be finished?" he asked, pissed that he suddenly didn’t have full availability for his bullshit tasks like checking the public holidays were listed right – which took me less time than reading his stupid email request. His voice and out of tune whistling, his meerkat posturing, his filthy little glee at being there, his email requests despite sitting next to me and his emails declaring I was doing great work despite sitting next to me, they all made me want to ruin him.

Almost everyone hated the ipads on the desks for ‘signing in’ that would take photos that spat out on sticky labels from a printer next to me. Mostly businessy people, but also the odd ex-some-kind-of-sport-player with features all mangled up from being smashed in and botoxed up. Other than than there was not much to do except Sog’s pointless bullshit tasks emailed from a metre away and Loulandra’s spreadsheet of gloom. So I kept fucking off to the various kitchens on different floors. I was eating two and then three and then four bowls of Nutrigrain a day, the sugar was giving me the swirls, yet I kept click clicking the dispensers in each kitchen – those little clear plastic silo ones like in hotel breakfast buffets. Partly I was just trying to have a few moments away from Sog’s out of tune whistling and the revolting churning of sports news coming out of the wall of eight TVs next to reception. By day five nausea was setting in, I had to get out FAST. I started saying I might be coming down with a cold, just in case I couldn’t bare to return for the last two days.

At least when you are temping you can normally be scoping out the staff for hotness, but anyone working at SplodgeBet is in my book an immediate write-off. Me included, even though the name of the place meant nothing when I sleepily said ‘uh-huhhhhh’ to the temp agency. There was one guy Dalp though who seemed so sweet and gleeful comparison to everyone else in the building, he would wave to me from the lifts or drift past the desk, all chilled like an axolotl just bobbing along. I asked Sog what his story was, wondering if he was a staff member kept on after an acquired brain injury or something. But Sog told me he was a consultant from PlutchWhiterhorseCuppers and I couldn’t help but say "AH-HA! That is why he is happy, he doesn’t really work here."

I was a few relentless hours in to Thursday, and seriously thinking my urine was starting to take on the scent of nutrigrain although this might not be medically possible, anyways I was grinding down the minutes and hours left in my mind, when Trudi called from my temp agency. I had met her during the week and she looked like a Trudi with upswept blonde hair and frosted makeup and nailpolish that she possibly had hoarded from the 80s, everything about Trudi was frossssted."You will be finishing at 12" she said crisply. What the fuck, it was almost 11, I had dressed corporate and dragged myself in at peak hour for a fucking 3.5 hour shift.

Half of me was furious and the other half was elated to leave and pay myself the remainder of the days wage in postage stamps. I acted super whingey to Sog – ‘how dare they give me an hours notice’. By this time I completely hated him and hoped I was being annoying, but instead he told me he would miss me and before I left reminded me of his facebook message that I had ignored for days – "my profile is of me snowboarding" - and suggested we catch up for a drink sometime. AS IF! And also, trying to contact temps via facebook is so against the international rules of decency – temps are 'ladies of the day' – you pay them to leave!!!!!

I spent the rest of the day op shopping and kept hearing Splodge bet advertisements over the radio channels in the shops. Uggggggggggghhhhh. Still I was OUT OF THERE huzzzzzah.
Sure life is a gamble, but just don’t.
Don’t gamble and don’t temp.