Be a CLERK all my life? NOT ME!
I work at temporary jobs in different offices in various departments at
a University. The jobs can last anywhere from 1 day to a number of months and pay from five-something to nine-something an hour. The moronic robot ones pay the lowest. Usually jobs are centered around a telephone and/or computer screen. I worked in Custodial Services for a few weeks. At this job I'd get calls from people who were usually upset and in the midst of a problem requiring custodial services; like spilled coffee on the floor, cobwebs on the ceiling or piss on the toilet seat. Ah, the University. Sometimes I'd get actual 'emergency' calls like when somebody puked on the side of a building or smoke alarms that kept "enunciating" or a bigwig locked out of his (or her) office. It was my job to keep log of these things and send the proper custodians out to remedy the situation: One day I got an interesting call from OB-GYN (Obstetrics- Gynecology). They needed a janitor to clean the "sperm collection room". Visions of a young Don Johnson hooked up to a mechanical sperm extracting device went through my mind. "A Boy And His Dog", remember? The caller said that the room hadn't been cleaned for awhile and was very much in need of custodial services. She advised me to have them disinfect the doorknob and to tell them not to touch magazines. Yech! Who would want to?!
I end up making lots of photocopies at some of my jobs. This is good
as it familiarizes me with different machines and their functions plus I can sometime get some of my own stuff done. Another thing I sometimes do is distribute campus mail. I like this. I have so an affinity with mail and the campus mailing system is quite awesome. The best thing is that it requires no postage to send any size package from one university department to another. If you have friends in other departments it's easy to send and receive things via campus mail. Another good thing is that probably 99% of the envelopes circulating through campus mail are 'recycled', in that they are used over and over again. Another mode of communication used by the university is fax. Fax is fuckin' far out! I got faxed by MR. NOSE once! Fax is tricky. My first fax took four tries before I finally got it out. Sadly it was only going about four blocks away. And ironically it was an ad for a job as campus recycler. Is fax paper recyclable? I often end up with equipment that is mine to use as long as I'm at a particular job; like desk, stapler, tape dispenser, telephone, computer, colored pens, etc. This makes me feel good for some reason. It's a little strange but I've always gotten charge out of office supply stores, probably the way some people feel about hardware stores or auto parts shops. Another thing I've got is e-mail (electronic mail)-communication via computer screen. It's too cool. I love it; you've got the creativity of the written word with the convenience and efficiency of the spoken. It's that fast.
I worked at the Dean of Medicine's satellite office once for a while.
One of my duties there was to type information into a "database". The papers I got the information from were called "evals". I called them "evils". They were evaluations filled out by health care workers (doctors mostly) after they'd attended medical conferences, usually held in places like Tahoe, Maui or Las Vegas, etc. (you get the idea). Through the anonymous 'evals" the conference attendees could make comments on and ratings of speakers, services, facilities, skiing, surfing, whatever. There were a couple of interesting things about these evaluations: one being the titles of some of the lectures like, 'Morbid Obesity - A 480 lb. Woman' or 'Gangrene In The Arm Of A 52-Year Old Farmer' or 'A Light Touch - retrieving a Lightbulb From The Anus Of A 28-Year Old Man'. The other interesting thing was the "comments" section. Anonymity can turn some people into real jerks. I felt bad just typing up some of their vicious and cutting remarks. After a couple of days of this I started doing some editing. At first just toning down a bit on some of the real scathing things and then after another couple of days, I started adding a few of my own "comments' amidst the rest; nice stuff though, like 'should be more women lecturers", "it'd be nice to have some sort of recycling facilities or receptacles available", "more fruit and juices at luncheon would be good". I felt like a high-tech Robin Hood.
Usually the jobs that sound the most important are the most boring. I
especially hate the ones where there's nothing to do but look at the clock and try to look busy and purposeful. Another plus about working in the university system is that the dress code is generally fairly lax. I'm not sure if this is because of the academic affiliation or if it's the civil service proletarian mind-set but I'm not complaining. Unfortunately in the past two years they've made it so a 'temp' can only work a certain amount of hours per year. So far this hasn't affected me too adversely and there's generally always work when I want (need) it. I guess that 'temps' are probably looked down upon in some circles and people are sometimes suspicious of our lifestyles. But what the hell, if you're of a certain temperament (pardon the pun), it's a pretty good way to make a living and have a life at the same time.
JAYNE'ZINE #5 PO Box 30926 Seattle, WA 98103
Jayne should devote an entire issue of JAYNE'ZINE to an examination of her
jobs, past and present. It's really quite amazing how interesting another person's dull and dead-end jobs seem to be when viewed from the safety of a distance. Not to imply that Jayne's jobs are such, just that the drugery of others is such a facinating subject; if only we could be as objective about our own forms of slave-wage earning, perhaps they wouldn't seem quite so tedious. Then again… :)