• Kaye Curren

Temping - Slavery in Disguise

An excerpt from my book, Memories A La Carte, Essays on a Life. This is the beginning of my essay on office temp work experiences. This is the good part. To find out how things go terribly wrong, go to Amazon and purchase my book here.

After my defiant exit from the public schools, I signed up for office temp work. I thought it might be an entry to a “real” job. How bad could it be? You go in, you answer the phone, your type a couple of letters. You pretend you know what you are doing.

Unfortunately, making school lunches and writing shopping lists proved not enough experience to work well in a corporation – even as a filer of papers, which is what I started with. Kelly Services was not about to send me out as an executive secretary with a typing score of 30 words a minute with errors. I tried to plead a learning disability, but they weren’t buying it.


My first job was to pull an attorney out of the abyss of having never filed a single piece of paper for the five years she had been with her firm. Her assistant, Judy, and I were assigned the task of digging her out. I drooled at the thought. Now you’ve got something I can handle. Organizing!

While our attorney was on vacation for a week, Judy and I flung papers, dumped papers, carefully saved what looked vital, and called for a large trash bin. Judy had bought a thousand folders, and we filed and filed and filed. At the end of the week, our attorney entered the office with a questioning look.

“How did it go?” she asked.

“Good,” I said.

“Fine,” Judy said.

We waited while she looked around to see what happened to her giant piles of paper, fervently hoping we had not discarded a vital case brief. Judy waved her over to the wall of files.

She looked inside one drawer. Then another. All the way across the room. Each drawer was full of perfectly-labeled blue folders. She closed the last file drawer and cried. Big tears. Dripping tears. All over us. She hugged us fiercely.

“Thank you!” she cried.

I felt so happy for her. And I experienced an epiphany at that moment. If I could put her life in order, maybe I could put mine in order as well.



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