The Temp: So long, Greg

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The Independent Culture
GROPER GREG, smarting from his public humiliation last week, lost no time in getting rid of me. Because there's one thing more dangerous than a bloke who's in the wrong, and that's a bloke who's been shown before the world to be in the wrong.

So it didn't come as a surprise when Agency Tracie rang on Monday. Greg had avoided me all morning, but spent a good deal of it hunched over his phone, shooting venomous glances at the back of my neck. I'd been expecting this, so I'd started no new work that morning, just settled down to tidy up before I left with a quick dash round the system to make sure that everything was as it should be.

And then the phone rang, as I knew it was about to because Greg had suddenly appeared. He was doing something in the filing cabinet and looking at me with that slightly greasy expression people get when they think they've got one up on you.

"Tracie, hello," I said.

"Ah, hello-oooo." Tracie put on her talking-to-temps voice. "How are yoooou?"

"Could be better."

"So," said Tracie, "I gather." And then she did one of those Oh-dear- I-don't-quite-know-how-to-put-this pauses.

So I filled in for her. "Have you," I asked, "had complaints from other people about this place? Only I've been finding it very hard to cope with Mr Pringle, and I was wondering if anyone had said anything before."

Another pause. "I'm afraid all that information is confidential."

Which is, of course, longhand for "yes".

"In fact, he seems to have a serious problem with his hands. They don't seem to be under his control at all... just wander off in all directions, mainly on to my body. It's really quite disgusting."

"Oh, dear," said Tracie. "It seems like you've been having a real personality clash."

"You're telling me," I thought, but said nothing.

"He's been complaining about you," said Tracie.

"What exactly about me?"

"He claims you're rude, that you've been late three times in the last two weeks and that you refuse to take orders," Tracie said.

"And you believe that?"

"Um, I'm sure it's not your fault." Which is shorthand for "no, but we're not going to rock the boat, especially with a large company that uses a lot of temporary workers, because then we'll miss out on our commissions".

"But we think the best thing would be to pull you off this job. You know how it is... sometimes these things just don't work."

I hit the log-out key, pressed OK, started reaching under the desk for my bag. "So when do you want me to stop?"

"Might as well go now," said Tracie. "I'll call you the minute we've got another booking."

"Okay," I said mildly and left. I smiled at Greg as I passed, treated him to a little wave of my hand. No point in saying anything in this situation: men like that only take reactions as evidence that they've won.

You're probably thinking I've been a bit of a wimp about this, that I should have stood my ground more. But hey, I've got four days off, the weather has turned nice and the agency, to my surprise, has given me a couple of days in lieu because Tracie, who has my perfect employment record in front of her, quietly believes my side of the story.

And anyway, there are better ways of getting your own back than getting embroiled in industrial tribunals. In a relatively short time, Groper Greg will learn his lesson. That lesson being, of course, that if you're going to pick on someone, you'd better make sure that that person doesn't have access to your password, your diary, your expenses claim forms and the home phone number where your wife is waiting. Revenge, as the man said, is a dish best served electronically.