4 updates from letter-writers

Here are updates from four people who had their letters answered here earlier this year.

1. My work studio is being used as a nursing mothers’ room

It took awhile to get things rolling, but this story does have a happy ending!

I spoke with the two women who were pumping shortly after the letter was published – and thank you everyone who helped reassure me that my concerns were reasonable and worth addressing. I had been very nervous about stepping on toes or offending anyone.

Unfortunately, one of the women was very unhappy with me and pretty much refused to work on this in any way. With a lot of apologetic/empathetic words on my part (again, thank you everyone!) and the second mom’s support, she agreed to also “book” her usual pumping time (even if she might have to adjust the time some days). Also unfortunately, that just led to me only having 4 hours a day available in the studio (since they each booked 2 hours a day), when in reality the women weren’t always there during their times… so a few months ago, this update would have been a bit sad. I suppose I could have gone to a manager without her permission, but I was in a slow season for videos and chose not to rock the boat.

But the unhappy woman stopped pumping/needing the room, and I re-approached the other woman. She was very open to everything, and agreed to let me work on setting up something different.

Then I approached one of the higher ups with an office near the studio, and he was 100% on board with letting her use his office! He even chatted with the manager with the office next to his, who also agreed.

And now the pumping mom can book the studio, office #1, or office #2 to pump. Basically, she just goes into the Outlook calendars, sees what’s available, and creates a private event for herself. If it’s one of the offices, she “invites” the office-occupant, who then gets the notification (and understands that it’s actually an “invite” to leave their office for that time period).

So it’s only been a few weeks, but it’s helped me a lot, since I can just book my studio for recording sessions without worrying about her times (and again, for the most part I’m booking a week or three in advance). The office managers also tend to set their schedule up in advance, and the mom usually sets her schedule for the week at the beginning of the week.

I also checked in with the pumping mom and she says: it’s a little more cumbersome to move her bag with the pumping equipment around with her (versus leaving it in my studio) but not really a big deal. And she has had one awkward situation where the rooms were all booked and she had to talk to one of the managers about it. She felt weird, but said he was totally normal about it and just moved his meeting to a conference room so she could have the office.

So I’d say it’s still not ideal – if we suddenly had three or four women pumping, it probably wouldn’t work! But at least this mom and I have more options, and with two high level managers involved, I think things would move faster if we DID start having issues again, since they can witness it firsthand (and they are caring people that I think would go out of their way to help).

2. My coworker got upset that I revealed that we’re temps (#2 at the link)

Unfortunately, she turned out to be a complete pain in the backside. Although she didn’t want it to be known by others that she was an agency worker of a “lower status” as she so arrogantly put it, she never lost an opportunity to remind me that I was temp and kept bossing me about accordingly, which she never did to our permanent colleague. This despite the fact that both myself and the permanent employee have worked there since February and were supposed to be training her.

Because this person was new, I did try to make allowances for her in her first couple of weeks. Whenever she told me I was doing something wrong without actually knowing all the facts, I explained to her why I was performing the task the way I was and when it was appropriate to do so. After all, I knew she would have to learn these different procedures anyway so I had no issue explaining them to her. I chose to take her bull-in-a-china-shop approach as well-meaning and eager to learn her role, which I still think she was. However, she would habitually go into a sulk when she was corrected about her misconceptions.

I was off work last Thursday and Friday and returned to work on Monday feeling refreshed, having had a break from her. I even thought she might back off me a bit now she’d been there a couple of weeks and was starting to pick up how stuff worked. How wrong I was! She kept coming up behind me to “remind” me that my reception microphone was still on (each time this happened, I was still in the middle of dealing with a service user). She also yelled at me because she thought I was going to fax our agency a timesheet with someone’s confidential information written on it (I had messed the timesheet up so was using it as scrap paper; I had no intention of sending it to anyone). And how unprofessional of her to shout in front of clients!

So that afternoon, which was my first opportunity to get her alone, I told her I was concerned about the pattern I was seeing where she just seemed to assume I was going to do the wrong thing; and that not even the bosses at our place operate like that. She got really pissed off that I was challenging her and told me in a very hostile manner not to give her “attitude”. I told her firmly that she was the one with the “attitude” if anybody was; and refused to argue with her. I contacted our agency to cover myself in case she chose to complain about me, and they were really good, saying that they have had issues with this worker before and would speak to management on site. This morning, our supervisor pulled me aside to confirm they’re getting rid of her this week! Part of me does feel slightly bad that my feedback led to this, but on the other hand if she had been more pleasant and less bossy, I wouldn’t have had anything to report. Her work was good but she seriously needs to get some people skills.

I’m a free woman! Yay!

3. How to reclaim tips from an employer (#5 at the link)

Unfortunately the tips situation is not yet resolved. Things have gotten slightly better (I created a quick event sign-in form in Excel where the owners can note any tips from the client and a space to keep track of when the tips were distributed – my husband gave it to them, and they have been using it), but past tips and the distribution of delivery tips are still pending. I helped my husband write a diplomatic, but firm follow up to one of the owners last week (using lots of language from your advice in your archives!) and on Monday, she pulled him aside to actually give him an update and let him know they were in the process of (finally) getting the ball rolling on it. We’ll see how it actually goes.

So, the bizarre thing (and thing I think your readers will get a kick out of/be slightly horrified about) is that apparently their dishwasher is living in the storage room of the company! The dishwasher (let’s call him Milton) is also suspected of theft. The reason most of the employees suspect Milton is because, after the thefts began, the locks were changed to rule out former or current employees who had keys. After the locks were changed, employees who had been with the company for a year or more did not get a new key, but the husband-owner gave Milton one. To no one’s surprise, the thefts kept happening. Among other things, he stole a case (about 40 lbs) of flank steak, a case of bacon, a case of chicken, several boxes of beer and wine and a nail gun. The owners then put a lock on the refrigerator and did NOT give Milton a key, and the thefts stopped. They did not fire him. The husband-owner is super buddy-buddy with him, and is protecting him.

And now he is living in the storage room. When everyone leaves for the night, he creates little barriers at the front door so he knows if someone comes in (the “barriers” are always something that won’t impede the door, but will fall over and create noise if the door is opened). He has toiletries hidden in the employee bathroom. He has created a “wall” of things that belong in the storage room, so if you walked in, you would have no idea there was a bedroom behind it. To give you a visual, I’m attaching 2 pictures, one from when you walk into the room, and one over the “wall” (you’re welcome to post them to illustrate how ridiculous the situation is, I don’t think there’s any identifying information in them.)

At any rate, my husband is there for now (he says “because my paycheck still clears every week”), but given everything that’s going on, I can’t really see him there for the long haul.

And then a late-breaking update to the update that came in right before I published this: 

Sorry, one more quick update to add. My husband has still not technically received any of the tips owed to him, but he made a “deal” with the wife-owner. We went on a week-long vacation (his work does not have paid vacation) and she “secretly” paid him for that week — as in, when he checked in on that Friday to make sure it was still going through, she told him yes, but ALSO said, “Shhhh…don’t tell [husband-owner]”) — which was worth maybe 15-20% of the total tips owed to him. The deal was in lieu of continuing to fight for his event tips. The husband-owner is in charge of the delivery tips (I’m not sure why they’ve set it up this way), and none of those have been paid (at this point the portion owed my husband is the equivalent of at LEAST 1 month of his full-time wages).

My husband interviewed and was offered a job with a much better company, but unfortunately, it turned out that they couldn’t offer him full-time at that point, so he had to decline. He’s kept in touch with the owner of that company though, and hopes to move there when full-time becomes available.

4. Negotiating a raise to stay exempt (#3 at the link)

My husband wrote in August asking about whether I should ask for a raise from $39,000 to the new exempt minimum, and since then things have gotten interesting.

Due to being overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated, I started searching for a new job the last week of August, and I guess my CEO found out about it, because I was let go after Labor Day weekend without cause or warning. That day, I called the recruiter I was working with, and had phone interviews with two companies by the end of the week. I then had in-person interviews with both of those companies over following week, along with a few more phone interviews. I had my third interview yesterday at the second company that called me, and signed the employment agreement today! I got a $26,000 raise, better benefits, better schedule, and a better workspace, and everyone I’ve met so far have been really friendly, positive people.

To top it all off, my old job was in an industry that made me feel like my soul needed bleaching, and the new job is doing work that I feel genuinely good about.

{ 76 comments… read them below }

  1. Isben Takes Tea*

    Yay, updates! Always good to hear accounts of advice in action. :-)

    Also, OP #2: Remember, nothing *you* did is causing this woman to lose her job; it’s *her own behavior* that led to this!

    1. AcademiaNut*

      And in a functioning workplace, people aren’t fired for a single complaint, unless it’s something egregious (punching a coworker or stealing, for example). Usually, it’s the combination of a pattern of problems, and not improving when given feedback.

      1. Annonymouse*

        Also if she is rude and bossy to you and shouting at you (!) while you are on the phone to clients you can bet they’ve probably complained too.

        Also it takes a lot of nerve/guts / gall to tell off the person who is training you and telling them they’re doing stuff wrong

    2. Joseph*

      Yes. #2 shouldn’t feel guilty because:
      (a) You tried the polite-and-patient route of explaining for weeks
      (b) She would sulk whenever you gave feedback
      (c) She was openly hostile when you tried to firmly address the situation
      Quite frankly, there’s no evidence in anything you wrote that makes me think she would ever change no matter how long you/company gave her. From your supervisor’s perspective, *not* firing her would likely lead to eventually losing you, plus whatever impact her unprofessionalism might have on her clients.

    1. OP #3*

      I wish I could post them – it wasn’t just like a couch and a duffle bag that he was living out of. He literally made a bedroom – with a full sized bed, a wardrobe, a lounge chair, and a side table.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        I hope your husband gets a different job soon.

        When he leaves, an anonymous tip to the city and/or state department of labor, with your pictures, is probably in order.

      2. Compassion*

        I really understand that this is completely inappropriate.

        However, why is this employee needing to stay in a storage room? Something is dreadfully wrong in this whole situation.

        What could be done (if needed) to help this person, who is completely in the control of the workplace – body, mind, soul, home, job, etc.?

        1. Anna*

          I appreciate your compassion, but I have serious doubts Milton is staying at the job site because he’s being forced to stay there. He’s not locked into his closet at night. He’s staying there because of the free rent and formally access to some things that made him a little extra cash on the side.

  2. Greg M.*

    wow update 3 is like “here’s an update to the situation and also a story that could be an entire separate letter probably”

    It sounds like the Wife is working on it or finding ways to make it right while dealing with an idiot husband.

  3. Jeanne*

    I know that #3 happens because you can’t always walk away from a job, even if they are stealing your tips. I doubt you will ever see your tips. However, I really hope he finds a job soon. Then when he has the job call the Labor Board about the tips and the Department of Health about the guy living there. You can’t run a food business with a guy living in your storage room.

    It’s nice that a couple of the situations for the LWs got better.

    1. Annonymouse*

      Milton stole hundreds of dollars of product from the business and instead of being fired is allowed to continue living there?

      Is the husband – owner missing his logic chip?
      Does he think his wife is framing Milton?

      Can we get “Mystery Diners” in there?

        1. OP #3*

          Well, based on how they act, my husband and his coworkers think husband-owner would definitely be having an affair with one of the (woman) workers if they didn’t work in a huge warehouse without private rooms/offices. Apparently it’s super blatant and gross.

          1. Anna*

            What I love about this is you say the husband-owner is buddy buddy with Milton, but clearly has figured out he can’t trust the guy at all. They’re SUPER close, right?

        2. GreyjoyGardens*

          I think it’s more likely that either: 1) the husband comes from the kind of family/background where propping up and enabling dysfunctional behavior is “just what you dooooooo for faaaaaaammmillyy” and Milton is in the category of friends who are like family, or the company is supposed to be “one big happy family” (ugh, ugh, UGH!). Or 2) Milton knows where the bodies are buried, IKWIM. He has something on Husband and is holding that over Husband’s head.

          I hope OP3’s husband finds a new job ASAP. When he does, he needs to drop a dime on this workplace. Stealing tips and health code violations ahoy!

  4. The Strand*

    After he gets a new job, I agree that authorities should be called re missed tips, and Stealin’ Steve in the the Storage room.

    Then Marcus Lemonis, because this sounds like a ready made episode of “The Profit,” eg one effective partner trying to be a stand up leader, stymied by the hijinks of the other.

  5. OP #3*

    OP #3 here – this workplace is like a soap opera, without the love affairs.

    That first update was from over the summer. What ended up happening was that “Milton” pried the new lock off the fridge, and tried to stick it back on, and ended up fired. The husband-owner is still friends with him, and buys him groceries/gives him money. Husband-owner was complaining (literally yesterday) about how he wanted Milton back, and that he “liked to give people a second chance, but [wife-owner] likes to hold a grudge”. The Sales Manager told him that if he ever saw Milton in the building again, he would call the police. Husband-owner also recently hired another guy who was recommended to him by Milton. New guy met Milton playing 3 card monty on the corner.

    This is all speculation on the part of the employees, but the reason they think husband-owner is so protective is: it came out at some point that husband-owner had at some point had a drug problem/had gone to rehab. Their warehouse is in a part of town with the lovely nickname of “The Methadone Mile”. Milton has been/lived in that area for quite a while.

    There are so many other stories. The workplace is so dysfunctional, and they hemorrhage employees left and right (largely because of the husband-owner). My husband is really trying his best to get out, but doesn’t want to just jump into another bad situation (which has happened to him in the past) or be without a full-time job (we live in one of the top 5 most expensive cities in the US, and can’t afford for him not to be working). He HAS looked up all the appropriate steps, and, if the tips are never received, is ready to file a claim with the state when he is finally out of that situation.

    1. Milton Waddams*

      I’m surprised the manager didn’t make the connection between stealing tips from his employees and his employees stealing product from him. If he’s having cashflow issues, he ought to have formalized the arrangement — I’m guessing there is some law that makes paying tips in inventory illegal? Providing housing as part of the job sounds like a decent thing to do, provided it wasn’t the scammy type that exploits the situation (like a lot of those sketchy live-in housekeeper jobs) — getting affordable housing is difficult for working class folks, as land lords will use every legal trick in the book to refuse renting to them, or will charge them slumlord rates.

      Maybe I’m biased — anyone named Milton can’t be all bad. :-)

      1. Natalie*

        Since tips are considered part of an employee’s wages, they have to be paid in actual money. No scrip or inventory.

    2. eplawyer*

      Owner-wife needs to kick Owner-Husband to the curb. It sounds like this a reasonably profitable business if Owner-Husband would leave his “friends” out of it. She could run the business much better, thereby ensuring good people have good jobs.

        1. eplawyer*

          She can buy him out. Or give him more of some other asset to offset. Then any profits in the future — without him hiring his druggie friends — would all be hers.

          1. Annonymouse*

            Considering how the business is run
            (Keeping an obvious thief on staff for awhile, hiring person recommended by said thief, unable or unwilling to track tips etc)

            Makes me think they aren’t doing well enough for her to buy him out.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          It also depends on how the business started, and their roles in that business. Most community property states designed their asset-splitting rules to protect the more economically vulnerable spouse.

    3. GreyjoyGardens*

      As I noted above – it sounds like maybe Husband is the type of guy who believes that you *have* to stick by family and close friends, no matter how toxic they are or how much he gets taken for a ride by them. Milton is a friend who is like faaaaaaaamily and you stick by faaaaaaamily no matter what! Naturally, this often doesn’t end well, especially for the well-meaning enabler – who can wind up bankrupt, divorced, jobless, etc. thanks to the toxic faaaaaamily or “my buddy who is like a brother to me!”

      I hope your husband finds a new job soon. Not only is this job toxic, but I have a feeling that the restaurant might not be around much longer. I wonder if stories like this are one reason so many restaurants fail?

    4. laurosaurs*

      This sounds like the premise for a TV show. O_O Thought it makes my office seem quite normal in comparison, so thank you for that!

  6. OP2*

    Thanks Alison for publishing this update, and to those of you who have replied so far! I also have further updates:

    1) On the Sunday after she was let go, I was doing my weekly supermarket shop and saw this woman instore giving out flyers as part of some sort of promotional work. She eyed me up with disdain in my jeans and Doc Martens and remarked as if nothing had happened, “OP2, you really need to smarten yourself up a bit.” I just blanked her as a) she probably wanted a reaction, and b) I could, unlike at work. It felt good to know I could simply ignore her, like gnats or rain, and not get into trouble! I felt that making comments like that said far more about her than it did about me.

    2) Two days after that, I was walking home from work when she burst out of a pub, clearly drunk out of her skull, and screamed “OP2!!! DO YOU WEAR A BRA???” I couldn’t help a little smirk escaping at her childishness, but again didn’t reply verbally.

    I told the story the next day at work, thinking it an amusing story to tell my colleagues. Our supervisor commented, “Bossy cow!” but didn’t seem unduly upset. However, the following Friday, my agency consultant rang me sounding really concerned. She asked, “Are you OK OP2? I’ve spoken to Kate, and she said you’ve been getting abuse in the street from Sacked Colleague!” I’d actually forgotten all about the incidents by then, and reassured her that it wasn’t that bad; SC was just being an idiot. I explained what had happened as above, and her reaction was “How rude! All I can do is apologise to you on her behalf.” She offered to have a word with her, but I said I didn’t really think that was necessary. Neither incident had taken place at work after all, and anybody witnessing it would think she’s a prat, not me. I might have been more upset about it if I was still working with her, but when it’s just sporadic and I’m no longer with her all day, it’s just minorly annoying at worst. Even so, the consultant told me the agency aren’t going to use this person again, as they clearly can’t trust her to behave herself, either in or out of work! As people have said, she’s brought that on herself and I haven’t.

    The week after that, the agency sent another receptionist to replace SC. She asked what had happened to the last person, and we explained she had to be let go due to her behaviour. The new receptionist seemed interested and asked “Wait, what was her name? What did she look like?” We told her, and she was like, “I KNEW it!” It turned out SC and New Receptionist had previously worked together in the NHS, and SC was also fired from there for the same reason (shouting at a colleague in a public area). Apparently the person she shouted at was too intimidated to say anything, but SC was fired anyway after a patient complained.

    Now you’d think after that had happened twice, she’d start examining her own behaviour and realising people don’t like her style, but she doesn’t seem to have learnt her lesson because she dropped by one afternoon to speak to Permanent Colleague, who she made friends with when she was with us. I said hi politely and just carried on with my work but she was going on about how she was treated unfairly, she shouldn’t have been sacked and she was going to sue someone (I could feel her eyes boring into me as she said this and gave an enigmatic smile to show I wasn’t fazed). Anyway, I moved cities last month, so I really won’t see her again and if she wants to sue me, I hope she’s got enough money for a private detective to locate me!

    Thanks for listening, all.

    1. OhNo*

      Wow, this update is even more exciting than the one posted! I kinda feel bad for Sacked Colleague – it must be awfully confusing to keep getting fired be so oblivious that you can’t tell why.

    2. GreyjoyGardens*

      Sacked Colleague really needs help, or she will eventually find herself unemployable. I hope she is, or becomes, self-aware enough to seek the help she needs.

    3. Honeybee*

      I’m surprised the agency will still represent SC if she keeps getting fired for the same thing. Even if it’s only twice, apparently it’s become a recognizable pattern with multiple people reporting and witnessing it. It makes the agency look bad.

      On the other hand, though, your agency otherwise sounds really good – concerned for you as a person, calling you up to check and make sure you’re okay.

      1. OP2*

        Oh, they really are. I’d use them again. I’m living in London now, where they also have a branch, but unfortunately nothing’s come up with them as yet. Still there’s loads of other agencies in our capital, not to mention employers hiring directly, so it shouldn’t be long before I get something else. I count this employment business as one of my top five, as they treat their candidates like people and not commodities.

  7. Jo*

    Sounds like things have turned out for the best for you, I’m glad you won’t have to see her again. She seems like one crazy lady !

    1. OP2*

      I reckon she was just immature and not only that but had something of a dominant personality and liked to get her own way. I could tell that when I told her not to yell at me and she reacted aggressively. She obviously wasn’t used to being argued with, and the fact she picked on that other lady at her previous job who she thought wouldn’t fight back shows she’s a bit of a bully too. She’s 24 and I’m not that much older than her, but she clearly hasn’t learnt to hold her drink. We’re in the UK where you can legally drink at 18, so I’d expect someone to have learnt their personal limits and how to drink sensibly by 20 at the latest (I was 19 by the time I’d learnt that four pints is my maximum limit in a night). But maybe she’s one of those people who sees alcohol as an excuse for stupid behaviour outside work, as turning up to work sloshed is instant dismissal!

  8. Siobhan*

    Sorry OP #2, I have to agree with your colleague. Being a temp is a lower status of employment. I can say this because I’ am a temp myself. I have lost friendships and respect of family,a nd likely my marriage, over this status. At least i am now temping somewhere where my name is (NAME) and not “Temp”.
    I cry myself to sleep most nights thinking about how I’m failing my kids and have wasted a Georgetown education.

    Your coworker sounds like she has issues though, and it’s 100% on her that she got canned. She probably can’t get a real job because of her apparent unmanaged mood disorder.

    1. kittymommy*

      That may be more of the work culture in the specific office. I’ve worked as a temp and worked with temps in quite a few different places of employment (retail, medical, legal, government, non-profit, etc) and in all of them even when the temp status was known, most permanent employees had to be reminded when necessary (needing someone to stay late, breaks) because it was normally forgotten. All employees were invited to company events, expected to participate in company “lunches/breakfasts” (even if one disagrees with them it does show inclusiveness.

      1. Roxy*

        It really depends where you are a temp. And how good you are at it. And what kind of temp you are – through an agency, a day here, a week there, or by a long term contact. I had remind my colleagues at my last job, um, it’s great we’re planning through to end of 2017 but my contract ends August. “Oh, crap!” If you are good at what you do, and if you are made part of the team, they forget that you might be leaving one day.

        I was never made to feel like I was at a lower status of employment. However, as an individual on contract or temping without vacation or benefits, what I found hard was trying not to get jealous as the permanent staff enjoy their benefits and vacations as well as stability and in some places, full inclusion in events. I was on contract a year ago and invited and expected to join in all corporate events. I was temp in another place and was not invited to participate in the Children’s Christmas party nor the corporate Christmas party because “we don’t have the money for that.”

        Temps should not be seen as a lower status and don’t carry yourself that way. You are a professional and you are highly adaptable and have a fast learning curve, something you can put on your cover letter or resume. You are exposed to so many different places and ways of doing things and often get to see different part of the cities you wouldn’t otherwise. You were hired because there was a need and you fill that need.

        If you’ve lost friends and respect for this, that’s awful and unwarranted. My mom and aunt worked as temps and contract work for years in administration and fully supported and understood my situation.

        And temps are deceptively expensive, at least in Canada. If I earn $15 per hour from the agency, the agency is billing the client (where you are working) anywhere from $22 to 26 per hour, plus tax!

        1. Chinook*

          Roxy, I agree. I have tempted lots and am currently 3.5 years into a temp contract and I don’t feel like I am treated lesser as a result. I honestly think my boss forgets that my contract is year to year and I know I am part of their long term plans (or at least the budget). To their credit, my Boss and her boss do try to convert temps to staff but only about 10% of those requests go through each year.

          Honestly, should be made ashamed of being a temp. We do the same jobs as other without job security or protection (I shocked my doctor by saying all my days off for appointments are literally risking my job. There is no short term disability for temps and, if my sick days mean the job is not being done, then I can be replaced and not guaranteed a replacement position.). If we temps wanted to be permanent AND those jobs were available, don’t they think would take them?

    2. Isben Takes Tea*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this, Siobhan! It sounds like you’re going through a lot right now.

      I think it’s safe to say that temp work is perceived very differently by different people–some see it as a valuable service, and others as a stopgap measure for those who’ve “failed” at “regular” employment. Status is dependent on the community you’re in, and the OP lucked into a community that expresses the ideal of equal “status” to temps.

      I don’t know if it will make any difference to hear on a comment thread, but you are NOT a failure in any way, shape, or form for making a living through a temp agency right now. It’s a needed and valuable service! There is real discrimination in some social circles against temps, as you’re clearly living with it. It’s wrong, and to “lose respect” for someone for temping is ludicrous.

      1. Fun*

        People who have struggled with employment tend to be much more respectful of temp workers – they know what it is like to do what you have to do. It is the people who had job offers before they were out of school and had opportunities galore that look down on temp workers and think they just aren’t trying hard enough.

        I was guilty of this just last week…. I found out a former classmate was waitressing part time and doing temp work in our field. I made a very insensitive remark about how she is wasting her education and had the ingrained assumption that she just wasn’t trying to get a steady job. Someone had to tell me to check myself before I realized that I could easily have been in the same spot as her. I was lucky that a professor referred me to the position that got me going, whereas she had no such reference and had to pound the pavement when barely anyone was hiring.

        I’ve been very blessed to have been constantly employed full-time since I graduated from school *knock on wood* and far too often I take this for granted. It took me over a year to find a new position while I was still employed, so if I didn’t have a full time job to support myself I would’ve had to take the same actions she did to pay the bills.

        1. Honeybee*

          Mm, I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Some people who have struggled with employment may have the attitude that “Well, if I could get out of it then Temp should be able to, too!” or might be lording it over that they finally moved from temp to a FTE. And people who have job offers straight out of school may have empathy or compassion despite not having gone through the same thing themselves. I’m personally in the latter group – we have contractors and vendors at my job, but I don’t look down on them at all. Frankly, most of them come in with the same qualifications as the junior FTEs and could be hired in an FTE role if we had one open (and they do, occasionally, move into FTE roles. One of them just got hired into an FTE role earlier this year). Many of them go onto equivalent FTE roles at other companies.

        2. RVA Cat*

          Yep. I think it was Molly Ivins that always said (of George W. Bush) “he was born on third base but thinks he hit a triple.”

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I think it has more to do with socioeconomic/social class than whether you’ve struggled with employment (although the struggle mat make a person more empathetic or, as Honeybee noted, could make you want to pull up the ladder you think you built to reach your success). I’ve found that my friends who grew up in more economically vulnerable situations are more empathetic and less likely to tell another that they’re wasting their degree.

    3. Annonymouse*

      Yep, really failing your kids by having a job in a tough economy.

      If anyone respects you less or is making you feel bad about not having permanent employment remind them IT IS A TOUGH ECONOMY OUT THERE AND AN EMPLOYERS MARKET.

      Literally hundreds of people apply for every job category.

      There is NOTHING wrong with being a temp.

      If your friends and spouse makes you feel bad about yourself ask yourself “Why do they need to drag me down instead of lift me up?”

      1. Siobhan*

        I don’t have a job though. I’m a temp. Huge difference. And furthermore, when your resume has a string of jobs where you appear to get canned after less than a year (In one case, the contract ended, in another someone in leadership got upset that I wouldn’t be bullied into working free overtime)… hiring managers and in one case, even a social worker we know, start questioning what’s really wrong with me that I can’t maintain a job long-term. I see entry-level people get hired into real jobs all the time. I am not entry-level however, and in my 30s I’m too old and stubborn to have some boss have any say in my personal life. (ie, if you hate long hair, don’t hire me and then demand I cut and donate mine. It’s my own damn business what nonprofits I associate myself with. I will take evening classes outside of work hours if I choose to. etc).

        Cautionary tale of a ruined career and life, and probably family: if your spouse’s job ever moves him/her to another city, make *sure* and get it in writing that part of that package is some sort of career placement option for you. Because most hiring managers I’ve met over the past few years, truly do not understand that “moved here with my spouse and children” in fact is a legitimate and responsible choice. This is a city where there are a LOT of temps, some in pretty senior positions, but all are viewed as sub-human trash.

        1. eplawyer*

          Are you getting a paycheck? If the answer is yes then you have a job.

          As someone who deals with child support and parents who are supposed to pay but claim they have job– trust me, you have a job.

        2. Chinook*

          Siobhan, I gave up my career to follow my husband and the military and RCMP would both laugh at the package you are requesting. It is not DH’s employer’s job to take care of me. That is my job (and, to a lesser extent, my husband’s).

          But, if you are listing those temp jobs separately and they are through agencies, you are doing it wrong. Your employer is the agency and your job is for them at client sites. AAM has great advice on how to list the experience but, in short, having consistent experience with an agency speaks volumes because they don’t need to keep sending you out if they don’t like you. Also, a good cover letter that explains why you aren’t really on the run from the law (as one interviewer joked about my experience during an interview) can get you in the door.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            I agree with eplawyer and Chinook. You have a job! And you should not be listing temp jobs as separate entries.

            Also, if your friends have abandoned you just because you work as a temp, your friends are awful and you’re well rid of them. I know that’s not comforting at all because losing friends can be heartbreaking. I’m not saying that so you’ll suddenly feel better. I’m just saying that the problem isn’t you having a temp job. That’s not a character defect, and it doesn’t make you a bad friend worthy of ditching.

            1. RVA Cat*

              No kidding. Those so-called friends look like a teenaged mean girl clique, half a lifetime after they should have outgrown it! (Sadly so many never do, with that stupid drama carrying on into nursing homes.)

          2. Honeybee*

            Well, some jobs will offer a job placement service to varying extents to spouses. I’ve seen overseas placements and jobs in remote areas (like academic jobs in rural areas) offer job placement services to spouses.

        3. halpful*


          Siobhan, it sounds like there are some pretty toxic people in your life. :/ People who are that cruel about temp work probably have some awful things to say about therapists/psychologists/etc too, but I think a good therapist could help you – my own wonderful therapist pointed out some awful things I’d been raised to believe, and helped reassure me that I did not deserve to feel so horrible. Having someone in your life who can give a reality check like that is really valuable.

          Captain Awkward’s blog might help (or at least entertain) you too – there’s lots of good advice there about dealing with this shit. :)

        4. Annonymouse*

          If you’re not putting your temp work down as temp work on your resume, then yes, it looks bad.

          If your work is supposed to be short term mark it so that employers know you aren’t a job hopper – you’re temping until you find the right opportunity.

          Also do you have to be at a workplace at a certain time? Do you earn money from being their and doing tasks? Congratulations! You have a job.

          And what is the problem with your city? Temping is a reasonable thing to do. Just because you haven’t found a full time job doesn’t make you less of a person.

          I’ve heard that jobs at wallmart or McDonald’s easily have hundreds of applications. For office jobs it’s no different.

    4. MK*

      I am very sorry for your bad experiences, but they don’t prove that being a temp is a lower status of employment, just that your workplace is dysfunctional; yes, it’s understandable that a company might not be as invested in temps and perhaps not offer them all accomodations it does permenant employees, but there is a huge difference from that to being treated badly. I am not sure what to say about your friends and family; I have friends and relatives who, in my opinion, are making mistakes in their careers, but abandoning a friend or losing respect for a relative for being a temp is just too out there.

    5. OP2*

      Oh Siobhan! I’m nearly in tears myself reading your post. You are NOT letting your kids down, and education is never wasted. You are a human being, doing the best you can to support your kids. It’s not your fault the economy’s so dodgy that there’s no longer enough permanent jobs-for-life to go round. Yes, there’s plenty of people who will judge us for that, but they’re either incredibly misinformed about how the economy works these days, or just in denial about the fact that it could just as easily have been them in your position. I don’t have a job at all at the moment, and am dealing with prejudice regarding that. But I refuse to hate myself or be ashamed just because society says I should, and I’d encourage you not to either. You’ve done nothing to be ashamed of and are just trying to get by in an unreliable world. We didn’t cause the global recession and it’s not our fault there’s so much competition for “real” jobs. I put “real” in quotes because if you are earning an honest living, then in my book that’s as real a job as any other, even if it’s not ideal.

      I’m incredibly sorry to read of the way your family and so called friends have treated you over this. They should love you for yourself, not because of what your job is. I have had the same treatment at points, though thankfully not by anyone close to me. But I want you to know, just because someone else chooses to treat us as lesser, doesn’t actually mean we are. We need to stand up, be proud of the fact that we are just doing our best, and refuse to apologise for our circumstances, as long as we’re not hurting anyone else. And if it’s the boss who’s treating you badly because of your temp status, I think it’s all the more important to ask them why they take on temps if they have such a low opinion of them as workers.

    6. The Expendable Redshirt*

      :( I wish to give you a comfort cat. Comfort cats help everyone feel better.
      And I am so sorry for your bad experiences.

      Temp workers are not lower status! The job pays money that you use to sustain yourself and your family. There is nothing low status about that. Full time jobs are not easy to come by these days. There are numerous awesome workers who should have full time employment, but don’t only because a position does not exist. If friends and family don’t understand this, then they have a flawed worldview. If anything, temp workers are tougher than average because they put themselves through the energy draining Employment Search so darn often. I salute you!

    7. catsAreCool*

      You’re gainfully employed, and it can’t be easy to be a temp. I don’t understand why your family would lose respect for you – they sound snobbish. Your kids can see that life doesn’t always work out the way you want it to when you want it to, but you keep going and do what you can – that can be a good lesson for kids.

  9. OFer (spouse of #4)*

    Husband of #4 above. As an update to the update, we were able to move into a much larger and nicer home, in a much safer neighborhood, because of my wife negotiating her starting salary using advice from this site! She avoided telling them her old salary, and quoted them a “this is what it will take to hire me” figure $6k over average for her job title, and they met it, no problem.

Comments are closed.