Monday, 18 June 2007

The Human Targets

Monkey Pipe is taking its time today, having a nice, leisurely breakfast of pineapple. If I close my eyes to the grim, grey day – close my ears to the sounds of Monday morning builder bragging and bad commercial radio, I can imagine that I’m on some kind of tropical holiday. But I’m not. I’m off to the dentists in about an hour – so can afford a slow morning.

One of the joys and benefits of working as a temp is being able to say ‘I’m busy tomorrow’ and not go to work. The downside is of course that you won’t get paid for it. Plus, do it too often and chances are that they’ll replace you. In fact, if you are temping in a job that is asking too much of you, has given you keys to the office so that you can open up and are responsible for the place, and then complains that you aren’t hitting targets, but you have none of the benefits of it actually being a real job – then being a temp is rubbish. One of the only benefits is that you can take the odd day or morning off here and there. However, if they have your phone number, then you are back to square one – listening to calls that start “sorry to call you on your day off” would be fine at a high wage, good perks kind of gig – at seven pounds an hour less tax, it’s hard not to swear at the phone.

One interesting thing about the job is that the boss, manager, owner – I don’t really know what – really does use phrases like ‘projected targets’ and ‘by the end of play’. Projected targets are fine as a concept, but, as the excellent Adam Curtis documentary The Trap, highlighted – statistical figures can be cold and manipulated. For example, the temp job involved booking a certain number of ‘clients/patients’ into a treatment within a certain time frame. All very good and well. But if the person treating them doesn’t exist, then it is next to impossible to actually book someone in for their treatment (step one) get the treatment completed as quickly as possible (step two) and get the reports sent off to the appropriate people (step three).

When, with this in mind, your boss/owner etc says ‘you really aren’t meeting projected targets’ to you, it’s hard not to lose just that little bit of interest that you have for the job right there and then. But Monkey Pipe perseveres, making do with the odd day off here and there, and the occasional long lunch, hero that I am.

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