Thursday, January 26, 2012

Job Journal: Temp Office Assistant, private preschool in Manhattan

The United States workforce is represented by two separate, yet equally important groups: those who plan on keeping their job for the long haul, and those who are biding their time before becoming the Next Big Thing. These are stories from the second group.

Job: Temporary Office Assistant, private preschool in Manhattan

Duration: 5 months

Year: 2008

While technically a temp job, this is one of the few long-term temp assignments I've done. I believe there were more temps than, um, perms, in the offices of this school. They were interested in someone with decent computer skills who could research things for them. I got hands. I can Google. Hired.

I got dropped right into this one. I didn't have any day-to-day regular tasks. From day one I began working on projects, the first being to research bus companies in the city and get a ballpark on how much it would cost to transport the 20 or so kids whose parents had expressed interest in this service. Short answer: good lord would that have been expensive. Had they been a fully chartered kindergarten, subsidies or something would have played a part, but that had yet to occur. Fun fact: there are approximately three companies who actually run bus service in Manhattan. You've no doubt seen at least ten different names on the sides of buses, but trust me when I tell you that every call I made got routed to one of three people.

Shortly after I wrapped that up, we moved our offices closer to the school and I began researching things for the new facility they were planning to move into. You may currently have an image in your head of adorable little desks, and hutches for their jackets & lunchboxes, and like paper. Allow me to disavow you of that image. This was a Reggio Emilia school (think Montessori). As such, I was researching things like climbing walls, giant soft geometric shapes, and insanely advanced whiteboards.

Around the same time, they decided to start sending me over to the school to man the door during the changeover from the morning class to the afternoon class. This gave me a chance to meet, and be terrified of, some of my favorite actors, whose children attended this school (ahemBillyCrudupahem). More importantly, it gave me a chance to be incredibly awkward around and somehow more terrified of their children.

These kids didn't know me. They weren't introduced to me. There was never a "hey everyone, this is Colin, he'll be in the hallway at lunchtime now!" moment. No, one day there was a strange, quiet man stopping the children from running out into traffic or the arms of waiting kidnappers.

I got comfortable at this job. I had my own desk, that no one else ever used, for I think the first time in my working life (age at time of job: 28). I started my own snack/candy drawer. They let me move my schedule around for auditions and/or classes. It was a good setup. I'm concerned I may have comforted myself right out of a job though. They increased my hours so I could get more done. I don't think I got more done. When the semester was up, that was all she wrote.

In future posts, I'll tell you how much I learned about urban gardening, how much I bonded with a gecko, and I'll introduce you to Tiger, the excited old English Bulldog.

Colin Fisher is many things to many people, but mostly he's an actor and writer.

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