Temp to perm actually works sometimes

They'll never know I'm not really working. They’ll never know I’m not really working.

My last temp assignment was in the office for a hospice-type care center. Hospice care essentially keeps terminally ill patients comfortable while they die. Some patients do recover or carry on for some length of time, but most don’t. On the official list of jolly, happy, fun-time places, it ranks pretty far behind Chuck E. Cheese’s and the circus. But still ahead of some other offices I’ve worked in.

The staff was nice, and the work was reasonable, provided I didn’t think about it. That, of course, was a problem, since I was tasked with making appointments, taking prescription requests and relaying messages to doctors and nurses. Having mundane conversations with normal dying people was surreal, particularly if they sounded normal. What they bought that day at the grocery store or spoke with their granddaughter about seemed to matter even less than it otherwise would. Taking drug orders from rich donors (who were dying people) was also a tad bizarre. They rarely had any other use for me on the phone.

But the staff liked me, and I liked them. It was a good place to work, with nice people who were doing something that made a difference. They were good at what they did and maintained a healthy attitude about it.

The office environment was fairly relaxed too. I could listen to music. They gave me errands that took me to other parts of the complex and around the city. Once people realized I was capable, my responsibilities increased. I was assigned projects related to various ongoing studies. At lunch I would hike over to a nearby park, eat my sandwich and nap on a bench, maybe read a book. Nobody got on my case if I returned five minutes late.

The temp assignment turned into a permanent position. I started grad school a couple months later and went from a full-time to a part-time schedule. It was a good arrangement that let me take extra grad school classes and still not go broke. My health insurance was still covered, and I still accrued vacation time. When my school schedule changed the next semester, they let me adjust my work schedule. And when I needed extra money, they gave me weekend work.

Everybody knew that I wouldn’t be there forever. People don’t go to grad school to be admins. But it was good while it lasted. And when a grad school internship at a big-time record label turned into a full-time paying position, they wished me well.

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