Thursday, February 25, 2010

Should you take a temp job?

We joined our church, UALC, on Palm Sunday 1976 and the next day my husband lost his job. The economy was a mess--he was already on a 4 day week and had changed firms about a year before, so it was "last hired, first fired." I have no recollection what we did about insurance--probably didn't have any, and if unemployment benefits were available, we didn't know about it. He found another job in 3 weeks where he quickly became a partner and owner, and which he left in 1994 to start his own sole proprietorship. But the shock of being unemployed with a wife, kids, mortgage, car payments, etc. affected his health and confidence for years.

Before he found a job, I signed on for temp work. I doubt that we had any savings to speak of. I was a stay at home Mom and the kids were in 3rd and 4th grade. I had dabbled in job-sharing, a big idea in the early years of the Woman's Movement of the 70s, but the baby sitting arrangements were appalling. After signing with a temp agency who located the jobs for me (taking a percentage of my salary), I did some interesting office work at various local firms like Ashland Chemical, Battelle, plus a medical office at Ohio State University. I distinctly remember it was my first experience socializing with women who had live-in boyfriends, and as the older woman (36) in the staff room on coffee break, I got an earful on why this is always a bad idea. Especially for the kids. No sharing of bed and utility bills is worth that. It was a bit like second hand smoke. Stinks as conversation.

In early 1978 through 1983 I began taking part-time, contract jobs. Yes, I was on the "government dole," as my dad liked to point out. All these jobs, mostly library or clerical, were from federal government grants, massaged and funnelled through state or university offices with a long red line of employees above me taking their cuts. Sometimes my benefactor was the USAID (Agency for International Development, State Department), sometimes FIPSE (U.S. Dept. of Education) or some other library funding group, and once Dept. of Labor, JTPA. But one stint was with a private company--a chain bookstore. Wow, what an eye opener. State workers have cushy jobs compared to private industry, and believe me, I couldn't wait to get back! Running an electronic cash register is not as easy as a library computer. Someone always had to rescue me with the gift card/discount stuff. Now, as a retiree whose pension depends on investments in the private sector, I see things a bit differently.

If you do take a temp job to tide you over, remember they are great learning experiences, and may actually lead you to your next best job. Just keep your mouth shut on coffee breaks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looks like no benefits was a good incentive to find work.