Friday, May 22, 2009

"My dear, I don't give a damn."

This past week I've been paid to read.
NRI, the temp agency that hired me, placed me at the University of the District of Columbia where I worked as a cashier for registration week. Students came to me, exhausted after winding through every possible setback caused by the illogical and misleading process, where I proceeded to deplete their bank accounts by hundreds of dollars. Thankfully, I only dealt with a handful of piercingly pissed-off people and I rather enjoyed the experience.
Originally there were five temps hired for this job, but each day we lost someone (because not enough people came through to make it worth it) so by today just Julie Eccles (from the ward out here. She's the one who hooked me up with NRI) and I were left. 

Julie Eccles at our station. My computer is the one on the left.

The view from the window behind us.

Basically what my days looked like were:
I read my book until someone walked into the room. If none of the other temps stood up to help then I would take the student's ID number, look up how much they owed, take their money and point them to wherever they needed to be next. That's it. I wish I could say more about the people or the job but except for the squat, mustached female security guard and the complete failure of any sensible system, there's nothing to say.

Hilary and Julie. Die hard temps. Oh yeah.

In our hour commute to UDC, Julie and I have to switch trains. Yesterday, as we headed home, there was an unusually large number of commuters so as we got on our second train I was surprised that the people sitting next to open seats were taking up more than their fair share. I asked a young sandy woman if I could take the seat next to her and sat down. Because Julie was behind me, she walked two rows past and went to occupy a seat beside a white male: 24 years old, dressed like a thug/skater carrying a guitar case and mini-amplifier.
Immediately the woman beside me, who obviously had watched Julie go to sit down, grabbed my arm.
"Do NOT let your friend sit there! Don't!"
As I turned to hail Julie, with no clue as to why, the round black woman across the aisle from me scooted over to free the seat next to her and, with eyes too-wide and a voice too-urgent for any apparent reason, waved Julie to her side.
"Sit here!"
Turning back around my sandy-complexion neighbor said, "You don't want your friend sitting there. That guy's been rolling joints this whole train ride. Look now! See?!"
Sure enough, Mr. Pot had a doobie stuffed in his hat and was licking a new one closed. He then proceeded to spend the entire rest of the trip hollering anything that would produce a reaction, and when that stopped he would cough/clear his throat/spit and then sing marijuana-theme songs. Interesting how the appearance of one weirdo will draw together so many strangers. That ride was the one commute where I had a good conversation with someone I didn't know, and it wasn't just with Ms Sandy, it was with everyone around me. For example, the middle-aged man who told me in all his years moving with his Dad in the Airforce his two favorite places were Germany and Kansas. It always makes me wonder what I'm missing in all the other train cars.
People really are more interesting than anybody.

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