If the paucity of posts weren’t clue-enough, you should know: I found a job.
Not a full-time-with-benefits one mind you, for I am clearly unworthy of such extravagance. But I have found temporary work--with benefits (the exact nature of which escapes me at the moment).
Oh yeah. I’m being paid.
What I do was once the province of college graduates. I am a human resources benefits administrator. Yes, the finer points of health insurance, 401(k)s, pensions, payroll, COBRA, vacation and FMLA administration are being stuffed into me as rapidly as I can clear space on my internal hard drive.
Week five was completed Friday.
I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. I am. To have a forty hour paycheck for the first time in two years is the proverbial rain in the desert. But I am troubled.
Troubled by the degreed HR staffers who no longer have a job because their jobs have been outsourced to temporary workers like me. Troubled by a company that either doesn’t realize its raging hypocrisy as it speaks of the importance of commitment from its temporary workers or doesn’t care.
I am troubled by the ongoing conditions in a supposed first-world country in which highly-educated people make fifty and one-hundred mile commutes for a temporary paycheck while chasing a vague and nebulous chance at permanent employment.
As I suspect is true in many American offices circa 2011, the mood is grim.
Weary, stressed-out workers swallow hard and multi-task while working for stagnant wages as executive compensation rockets upward in an unbroken trajectory independent of company performance or economic conditions.
In the hour and a half it takes to negotiate the twenty-five mile trip to work, I realize I am uncomfortably close to a conundrum where I work merely to perpetuate my ability to get to work.
But then there is my resume. The official record of my contributions to corporate America.
If nothing else, this position will allow me to show recent experience. Which, if you haven’t looked for a job lately, is the mantra of our business class: only the employed (or recently-employed) need apply.
And would all of you ninety-niners please just go away? Or something?
But the days aren’t without mirth. The monumental tedium that results from eight hours of ‘What are the restrictions on withdrawals of after-tax contributions made to the DC plan after December 1, 1986?’ is an extraordinarily fertile breeding ground for humor.
I long to quote Dr. “Bones” McCoy from the original Star Trek and say “Dammit Jim! I’m a doctor—not a retirement specialist!” I struggle to resist publicly identifying the three types 401(k) distributions as hardship, regular and regular with cheese.
Or to inquire of our off-site facilitator “Does a 401(k) participant get a treat when they roll over?”
But these aren’t even my biggest temptations. Let me explain.
In our classrooms, we sit in individual, high-walled cubicles. As mentioned earlier, we take our instruction from an off-site source as we are monitored by on-site instruct—I mean facilitators. The off-site facilitator speaks to us from Texas via speaker phone.
When questions are asked over the speaker phone, they produce a stadium-like echo, which creates in me an irresistible urge to say things like “Upon further review, it has been determined that the offensive player had both feet down at the time of the catch. The call stands. Touchdown Chicago.”
Alas, I have not. Corporate America takes itself very seriously.
But as any temporary can tell you, dreams die hard.