Muted colors on the drive in to work, highs in the low 50s. The temporary workers in their fluorescent body suits setting up the construction site for the day, wincing in the rain. Me as a temp worker with a construction crew, flagging. Or in a factory fresh out of college delivering dot matrix reports on a cart to the CSR’s: “Luanne’s temp.” In my car over lunch with the seat reclined and the radio, my arms crossed trying to rest, counting the minutes before I had to go back in. I loved temp work: low commitment, low expectations, though it was low pay. I’d have to work two full days at the rates I worked then to make what I make in an hour now. And my work is still temporary, contract-based.
In the morning on the road leading up to the lake with my first coffee in the dark my stride’s uneven and I mumble to myself as the cars go past and I’m surrounded by million dollar homes and feel out of place, and wonder if I look suspicious. The street lamps on the edge of the park are the color of far-off planets pink and gold, and when the ducks come in to land on the lake they look stilted and fake how they fly, a deus ex machina, a medieval play.
I sit on a log and watch the pattern of rain on the lake, the level’s come up a bit, the shoreline thinner. I come and sit and try not to think about anything but always do, and when I get home I sit on the front stoop, take off my shoes, come inside, pet the dog, check in with the kids, go back to work.
I used to think it was off-limits to do work from home but now I have to, and I get more of my “home” working from home than I did before leaving it, for work.
I’ve been contracting a year now, three days a week going into the office, sometimes less, working off and on about every day, an email or two on the weekends, sometimes a deck, a couple hours on a Sunday.
And overall I feel I get more done and have more balance in my life, though the work is kind of nutty and unpredictable: it mirrors life, that way.
The work is more predictable (and less nutty) on a construction crew flagging, but it doesn’t pay as well. Those are the first jobs that will go to the robots.
Today again at work I tried to help make sense of things, to rationalize requests, bring structure, order. I took data from a PowerPoint slide, put it in Excel so we could run calculations on it, then put it back in PowerPoint, went down to the cafeteria before they closed, found a spot by the window, ate my Poke bowl with compostable chop sticks, went back upstairs, brushed my teeth, logged on.
I’m never sad going into work but never sad leaving.
When I got back Dawn was making burritos and the kids were at the table doing homework looking tired, that post-school, manic energy thing. Dawn told Charlotte to bring me a beer and I snapped at her when she didn’t.
For a time I stayed in the den on the sofa sipping it, staring at nothing. When I felt better I came back, and then they went to their dance lessons, and the hot tub was the right temperature so I got in, came back to the den and lit some incense, sat down to write. I’m wrong in the head when I don’t write, and haven’t written much in a while. I look for triggers on my walks, on the ride into work, the temp workers, the Jupiter’s beard on the roadside shoulders, the fact it seems everyone else is looking down in their laps, at their phones. Saw two kids near the school like that and they looked like they were praying, how they gazed at their palms, clasped them. My god is in the woods.