Grist to the Mill

15 March, 2004


It's easy to be gloomy about temping. It's unchallenging, uninteresting, etc, and it gives permanent staff the chance to dump the worst parts of their job on someone else. Also, some posts are staffed by a sequence of temps because the jobs are unfillable

So, it sucks, but it can be eye-opening. Recently, I worked in the legal dept of a hospital where all the cases were things like mismanaged childbirth, misdiagnosed cancer/meningitis, etc. Interesting, and highly confidential…

Last week I started a two–three week assignment in the credit department of a major bank on the same day that the Daily Mail (who else?) ran a hand-wringing headline reading “CREDIT ‘KILLS’ FAMILY MAN”. Here’s an excerpt from the newspaper:

Greedy banks were blamed last night for the death of a young father who hanged himself to escape debts of £70,000… It is clear that he was offered credit way beyond what a man earning £22,000 could afford to carry. Around £50,000 of the debt is thought to have been generated by interest, bank charges and the cost of card-protection insurance. Said his wife, ‘These companies are ruthless. They feed on misery and push people to obtain credit without making the consequences clear. Some are still pursuing me for his debts’.

He was clearly a victim who handled his affairs badly but I don’t think the banks were completely at fault.

Because I’m at the bottom of the food chain in this office, my desk is very public with no privacy. I’m very visible as folk walk past every few minutes, heading for their proper, private offices. Figuring that it’s a fairly normal response to read news headlines, I left the folded newspaper to one side of my desk all day, with the headline strategically placed. I wondered if anyone would pause to glance at it and, if so, whether any signs of life would cross their face. S’prise, s’prise… not a flicker.

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