Thursday, June 16, 2005

Hourly Waged

Without fail, every morning when I get in the elevator, someone makes a remark about my sneakers. “Those are nice sneakers,” they’ll say, but I know what they really mean is, “Why are you wearing sneakers with a suit?” I guess it’s a New York thing to wear sneakers when you’re in transit to and from work. Why should I dirty up my suede Stuart Weitzman stilettos on the bus when I can just throw on some Nikes and change shoes when I get to the office? I guess most folks in Texas drive to work.

This is my sixth or so week temping at this law firm – let’s call it Acewell & Julius. It’s a prestigious (that’s what my temp agency told me) downtown law firm, taking up seven floors in one of the handful of Houston skyscrapers. The name actually changed a few weeks ago when Julius was taken on as a partner. The firm used to be called Acewell & Patrickson, but old man Patrickson got booted off the letterhead when Julius showed up. Patrickson is actually dead, but I still felt kind of bad for him.

I’m “working” here as a receptionist. Basically, my two duties are to answer the phone and to greet visitors. The phone rings maybe three times an hour and a visitor arrives maybe three times a week. There is a receptionist like me on each of the seven floors, plus there are two “relief” receptionists who rotate throughout the floors to give us our morning, lunch, and afternoon breaks. I’m still in disbelief that the firm employs nine people to basically do nothing, but I guess it’s not like they’re paying us that much.

I make $11/hour. Mind you, a few months ago I was making a very nice salary, living in New York working for a Connecticut mail-order company. The money was nice but it was a miserable job and I’m happy to be free from it, despite the sudden quartering of my salary. I’m just content to be in a job where I have nothing to do. When I was at the CT company, stressfully slaving away for 60 hours a week, I often daydreamed about having the kind of job where you goof off all day and then leave right at 5:00. That’s exactly what I do at Acewell. My routine is to read the paper in the morning and then talk on the phone or read a book in the afternoon. And they pay me to do this. Sometimes it does get boring, and I find myself counting the hours (or the dollars – “you’ve already earned $22 this morning!”), but I’m not complaining.

And no, I’m not planning on becoming a career receptionist (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I moved to Houston because of my boyfriend's job, and it didn’t make sense for me to find anything permanent because I’ll be starting law school in the fall. So for now I'll just chill and read the paper for $11/hour.

The one bad thing about this assignment is that I don’t have a computer. Oh, there’s a computer on my desk, but I don’t have a login for it. I was told by HR that temps are not allowed to use the computers. I guess they don’t want regular folks off the street looking at the private legal documents on their server. Or they could be afraid that I’m a paralegal from a competing firm here to spy on them (I’ve heard that really happens).


Post a Comment

<< Home