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My humbling day at the staffing agency

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by blacktitleist, Jun 19, 2009.

  1. blacktitleist

    blacktitleist Member

    Had to bite the bullet and attend a cattle call at a local staffing agency today for a potential job as a material handler with a major tech firm at its warehouse.

    There were about 30 other folks there when I arrived, and everyone else said they were told to be there at 1 p.m.

    First, they tested my "hand-eye coordination" with--and I'm not making this up--placing pegs in a peg board and attaching something to the back of it. Happy to report that if this was the determining factor in me being hired, I handily defeated all of my opponents.

    After waiting around and watching a safety video--and then getting quizzed on it--I waited some more before I got called into a one-on-one meeting with one of the agency people.

    Most of the folks that were there looked fresh out of high school. I heard one guy who was being interviewed by one of the staffers get into an argument with her about whether or not the crime he was convicted of was a felony at the time (apparently it happened in 1999). He later stormed out of there and I just envisioned him returning with a gun and blowing us all away.

    Thankfully, it didn't. happen.

    I got to this point because my hours were significantly reduced and I need some income. The last few summers, I was writing for a couple of different websites to help during the summer. Not anymore. I've been looking for something for several months to no avail.

    Everyone there today was competing for a job that paid less than $9/hour, but guranteed you 40 hours a week in addition to mandatory overtime.

    It didn't matter that I can crank out 700 words while fighting a deadline after a high school football game.
    It didn't matter that I've written well over 300 articles for my local rag.
    It didn't matter that I've strung stories for four other major papers, covered a Game 7 of an NBA playoff game, or broke stories about coaching changes.

    I was just another potential employee.

    Please be thankful for what positions you hold. Maybe the pay is crappy, the hours are crappier, and you walk on eggshells every day in fear of being the next layoff victim.

    I wish it were me.
  2. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    I've completely been there. I had to match numbered cards with slots.

    I hope people remember this the next time they mock an opening on the jobs board.
  3. bob

    bob Member

    I feel for you, blackT. Never had to suffer through anything like that and in my wildest dreams I can't imagine having to accept a job like that. I'm just lucky that I'm closer to retirement than having to go there.
  4. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    The problem with being closer to retirement is that, until you're actually at retirement, you might have to go there anyway. You have to bridge the gap with something, because even if you wanted to shift up your retirement -- and promise to check out an equal number of years earlier at the back end (dirt nap) -- the government won't play along. If you can't tap Social Security or Medicare early, you risk depleting what you saved to get to that old finish line.

    We keep hearing that seniors are going to have to work longer to keep the labor force strong, to keep their grubby hands off Social Security and to replenish their IRAs and 401ks. But employers everywhere are jumping through hoops to shed oldsters, their accumulated raises and their health-care costs.

    I'm happy to work 20 more years if only I knew a job where that was going to be possible.
  5. bob

    bob Member

    Joe, right on brother, but just for the record, I really am just about there and I'm in good shape. It just kills me to see younger guys like this having to go through this.
  6. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    This is me to the letter. I had a temp job last fall that thankfully ended, b/c it was the worst fucking work-related experience of my life by a country mile. I remember sitting there thinking Christ, a year ago at this time I was getting ready to cover the World Series. Now I'm just sitting at a desk w/o a computer, staring at push tacks, getting lectured on how to proofread according to this company's stupid fucking standards (none of my proofreading experience was relevant at this place) and trying to will the clock to move faster.

    It was fucking horrible, and what really pissed me off was I hadn't done anything to deserve losing my job. Of course, who among us has?

    I'd rather collect bottles for a "living" than go to that temp agency again.
  7. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    I am thankful. Every day.

    The ax has fallen twice at my place, and somehow missed me each time. When it falls for a third time (January? February?), I don't expect to be so lucky.
  8. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    The final straw for me at a temp agency, when I was saving up money for college, was when they wanted me to show up to work at a factory every day and sit there for a few hours to see if they needed us that day. If they did, we'd work the remains of our eight-hour shift. If not, we'd go home with three hours pay.
  9. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    I hear ya, mate. Sometimes.... it just ain't worth it!

    Well, did you get the job? What exactly is a material handler?

    Done a few temp jobs through the years. None of them lasted all that long. And I can't say I was ever saddened when they were finished. Few things in life are worse than sitting at a desk (or standing someplace) wishing the clock would move so you can get the hell out of there.
  10. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member


    They laid off my ex-coworker 6 months shy of his retirement in Richmond. Joe's right. Close ain't there.
  11. BigSleeper

    BigSleeper Active Member

    I've used temporary employment services to earn supplemental income for the past 15 years in several different parts of the country. Sure, some gigs suck, but I have enjoyed many of the assignments.

    On top of my full-time newspaper position, I have an part-time seasonal assignment until October that pays more than we pay our entry-level reporters. I look forward to going to that job more than the newspaper. It's just work and a good workout, too.
  12. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    Just so everyone doesn't think that every temp job, or temp agency, is terrible, especially in this day and age when many of us may need such things: Like BigSleeper, I, too, have had a couple really good experiences in temporary positions.

    One was in the communications department for my county library system in a job that wound up lasting for seven months. And another was actually in the advertising department of a major-metro newspaper that went on for more than a year.

    Both jobs turned out to be good enough, and pertinent enough to the rest of my primary work history, to remain on my resume to this day.

    I think they actually add some different perspectives to my other media-related experiences, and I'm glad those jobs are on there -- and that I worked in them.
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