Monday, October 29, 2007

Less a Street Walker, More a Street Stander

So in my on-going quest to do every weird job in Seattle, I recently accepted a one-time, please-can-you-bail-me-out-I-need-one-more-body temp gig. My instructions were: "wear a black jacket, black pants (no jeans) a white shirt with a collar and black shoes. Meet this guy at this place and do what he tells you." Ooooookaaaaay.... "Oh, and wear a watch." First off, doesn't everybody know that as soon as they tell you "white shirt, black pants, black jacket" that the job is going to be (a) tedious, (b) uncomfortable and (c) low pay?

Well, I'd just lent my only working watch to my mom, so I left early for the gig (clad in the proper I'm-one-pair-of-sunglasses-short-of-killing-aliens attire) in order to stop at Rite Aid and buy a fancy timepiece. Said $16 timepiece strapped to wrist, I went to the address, only to find that there is no such address. I wandered around for awhile, carrying my little sheet of paper of woefully inadequate instructions (I would soon find out just how inadequate they were) until I happened to ask directions of a guy who knew the guy I was supposed to be meeting. The place where I was sent to isn't exactly a "place" as such. It's actually a wide spot in a tunnel. So, more of an absence of a place than an actual building. As I'm standing awaiting instructions, I see more Men and Women in Black, looking confused and waving inadequate bits of paper at people, so I gesture them over.

Once there are six of us, we are led upstairs. I got a walkie talkie, a clicker-counter thingy, a clipboard and a pen. My job, it seems, will be to stand outside for the next six hours, directing people onto and off of buses.


There's a convention in town, and the convention-goers have a party to go to. Shuttle buses will pick them up at their hotels and take them to the party. My job is to get them onto the right buses and presumably to tame the savage beasts with some singing and tap dancing when the shuttle buses are behind schedule. Then after awhile I'll go to the party and shove the same people --only slightly drunker now-- back onto the buses and send them home.

Six hours. Outside. In late October. Did I mention the inadequate instructions? Yeah, the whole "you'll be outside the whole time" bit was missing. Fortunately, I had worn a jacket. It wasn't warm enough, but it'd prove to be the difference between doing the job with good humor or telling everyone to f*ck off, get on the bus or I'd attach my clipboard to their left nipple and spin it. My black shoes were completely wrong, having high-ish heels and a thin sole, and I would have worn gloves if I had known, but I was in better shape than some of the rest of the Temporary Six who hadn't worn overcoats at all.

The party people were, by and large, in a good humor and didn't mind waiting a bit, the bus drivers were very nice and very professional, and the people I was working with (though I only saw them for a few minutes here and there) regarded the whole thing with the same horrified humor that I did. It was an education conference, so I had some fears of ushering one of my former colleagues onto a bus and having to answer questions like, "So, how's that whole freelance-writer thing working out for you?" but fortunately that didn't happen. There was one woman who just seemed mad at the world and who got a bit mouthy, but I stuffed a passing homeless person in her mouth and that calmed her down.

All in all, it really wasn't a bad evening. It was actually quite good fun most of the time. I got to talk to people and be chatty, which I can do for short periods, especially if I know I'm getting paid at least a little. The people running the event were organized and on the ball and genuinely appreciated having temps with brains and a decent work ethic. And when I headed home at midnight, I got my bus after waiting in no-hoperville (in front of the Benaroya, for those of you who know what I mean) for less than a minute. All in all, a reasonable evening, even though it meant I missed this week's Office.

I wish they'd let me keep the red vest, though. And the clicker.


NuclearToast said...

I hope the word doesn't get out about those homeless hors d'oeuvres. They're so healthy! Low fat and already well-seasoned...

Lynn Sinclair said...

Ohhhh--a clicker! I always wanted one of those.

Ash said...

What a funny surprise!