Work Life

Exiting the Land of Awesome

Paving the Road
Paving the Road

LAKE MACBRIDE— During the last two months my work performance with a temp agency was described as awesome more times than can be counted. It was a bit startling insofar as the word “awesome” was not a regular part of the vocabulary of managing people during my 25 year career in transportation. The tendency of managers and supervisors was to take people down a peg rather than lift them up. Yet in 2013, awesome I came and awesome I exited the temp job, with repeated entreaties to return if my situation changed. Things may change, so the door was left open.

The reason for the awesomeness was good work habits drilled into us by the nuns and clergy in elementary school. They taught us there was a way to behave in society and, separate from religious life, respect and diligence were expected and freely given outside the enclave of a Catholic grammar school. It was a matter of exercising our free will.

When agreeing to work for the temp agency, I showed up on time, made an effort to understand and comply with the work rules, and didn’t cause any trouble. This very basic outlook toward work is apparently lacking in the majority of people who find their way to temp jobs— hence, I was awesome.

While tempted to linger on, I would have gone broke keeping the temp job. What was attractive about it was no one knew or had heard of me before I walked in the door. It was a clean slate where employees were judged on the quality of work, with clearly defined processes and measurements. The conversations I had with colleagues were genuine and fulfilling. It was a form of acceptance that was severely lacking in other experiences.

The temp job provided valued insight into a world of labor and management in contemporary Iowa. After exiting the land of awesome, there is freedom to write more in public about outsourcing, labor and management based on my experiences. As understanding and recovery from the manual labor comes, I will.