Uhh.... so do I have a job or no?
September 10, 2010 5:39 AM   Subscribe

Not-meaning-to-sound-ungrateful filter: I started a temp job in June covering for a woman who was out having a baby. She's supposed to be back to work in 2 weeks, but I've been unofficially told no one thinks she's going to. I don't particularly like this job but don't know what to do....

I started here in June, at this job that's a 50 mile roundtrip drive from home, making $10/hr. I was initially hired to scan checks that come in from the accounting department and maintain their filing and storage (this is an equipment yard for a large construction company). This is still my main responsibility but I've had other things tacked on over time. I was also hired for part time but have worked full time the whole time.

So, about a month ago the manager mentions to me that no one thinks the original girl will be coming back. This is her third kid and she is presumably too busy to work. But, no one has spoken to her or gotten any official word as far as I know. This assignment is up in two weeks. I know I need to treat it as thought I will HAVE to get a new job, and should be looking really hard, but I'm also confused: I've gotten a lot more training on covering for the other woman in the office because she will be out for 3 weeks in November.

Saying I don't like this job is an understatement - I actually pretty much hate it. It's terribly boring and soul-sucking and not at all where I want to be. At the same time, I am eternally grateful that I got the job to begin with - I had been out of work for 2 months after losing my job in April.

I'm college-educated, and starting court reporting/transcription class on Monday. So this is clearly not on my career "path," as it were. But the money's terrible, I have a leased car that will be WAY over on mileage because of the commute...

I'm going to stop the whining now and get to the point: Should I plan on leaving at the end of my assignment regardless of the real woman returning? (Obviously in this scenario I have found another job) Or should I man up and stick it out?

Oh, also - I didn't get this job through an agency or anything. My dad actually works at the company's headquarters and got wind of the temporary opportunity.
posted by slyboots421 to Work & Money (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you need the money to survive/avoid massive debt/pay off your lease/etc? If so, suck it up and stay as long as they'll have you until you find another job. If you're lucky enough not to need the money, leave when your commitment to them is up. Either way, you should be devoting as much time as possible to finding a job that is in your field, not 50 miles away, and pays well. Also either way, be pleasant, helpful, and conscientious to everyone at the company. You never know when you're going to need a reference.
posted by decathecting at 5:45 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Might be a good time to re-negotiate your pay. If the woman decides not to stay and they ask you to stay, mention that you would like to but the commute is long and the hours and responsibilites have been increased. You might be able to get more money which will offset the pain and at least give you a job while you take your class and figure out your career path. Having a career path is great but sometimes real life needs attention first.
Of course if you find something else that better suits you I dont feel you are under any obligation to stay but might want to give them a heads up you are leaving.
posted by Busmick at 5:52 AM on September 10, 2010 [13 favorites]

I don't think you're confused: you leave when you have another job, whenever that is. If it's in two weeks, when the assignment ends, that's great. If it's in two months, when you have a new opportunity, that's great too. I see no reason why you should "stick it out" past the minute you've found something else to do. Am I missing something?
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:52 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

You should continue looking for another job -- people make all sorts of assumptions about working moms that they really shouldn't make.
posted by amarynth at 5:54 AM on September 10, 2010 [4 favorites]

Sorry after reading the question again I think you might have to actually ask them what the deal is. You say you have two weeks left and no clear answer on whether they need you. You might want to (gently) remind your boss that you term is up in two weeks and ask if yuo will be needed because otherwise you need to start looking for work. They should understand this and be able to give you an answer. Presumably they ahve asked the woman if she is coming back. Ata that time you might want to mention the salary thing.
posted by Busmick at 5:57 AM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

If boring and soul-sucking is the worst thing about it, then it's probably not that bad - and it's a hell of a lot better than having no job at all. You could be one of those sewage divers in Mexico City.

Go for interviews, don't quit unless you have a confirmed job in the bag. If you're getting bored, think about all the pleasure that money and security can give you, and how much it would kill you if you had to live back home with your parents or some such.

Don't worry about being "locked in" to a particular job or career. You have all the time in the world to change. Remember if they like you, you might be able to find a better job at a later date in the same company, in an economy where I understand people are quite desperate for jobs.

I personally find music makes my day a lot better in a lot of different ways.
posted by smoke at 6:00 AM on September 10, 2010

This seems so straightforward. 'Manning up' has nothing to do with anything. You look for a job that suits you better, and you keep this job as long as it's available or until you find something better.

You do not have some cosmic duty to save your employer from every problem it encounters. There is nothing noble in sacrificing your own happiness here, and there will be no reward. If the employee on leave doesn't return, that's your employer's problem -- not yours.
posted by jon1270 at 6:14 AM on September 10, 2010

Best answer: I think you should do some calculations on how many miles over your lease you are going to be as a result of driving 50 miles round trip each day and find out the cost of that overage. That could add up to a substantial amount of money over time. Essentially you are borrowing money from your lease company by not accounting for it is the cost benefit analysis of your current job. It sounds like it is also costing you $8 in gas per day. That is an hours after tax wage. It sounds like the first hour you are at this soul sucking job, you are working to pay for the gas, the second hour for the mileage overage, the third hour for your lunch money, etc. Throw in it is soul sucking and I would find another $10 an hour job closer to home while I looked for a job in my chosen career path.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:24 AM on September 10, 2010 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I think my biggest issue here is that the two other people working in this office keep putting things on my desk and expecting me to know what they are, or what to do with them. I've asked questions and explained that I was only trained on one aspect of the job but they don't seem to remember.

So then I think, well, if/when I do get a new job, be it in two weeks or two months (fingers crossed for the former), am I responsible for training MY replacement? Because I only know about 30% of this job well enough to explain. I don't think it seems "fair" that I'd need to train someone on a job that wasn't even permanently mine to begin with and that I know very little about.

amarynth - I agree with you, I think this is a pretty big assumption to make about the woman returning. And I guess no one's talked to her officially about it because "she may not be able to say one way or the other." I guess I'm not all that familiar with FMLA but.... I don't know where the idea that she isn't coming back even came from.

I'm just really frustrated and I definitely need this job/money... but sometimes I feel like it's a wash anyway!
posted by slyboots421 at 6:42 AM on September 10, 2010

I suggest you sign up with a real temp company which will find you a similar soul-sucking job with a more reasonable commute. You'll bank more of your take home pay and you can always ask for a new assignment if you really hate a particular company. As the temp agency finds that you're efficient, dependable and well-liked by the clients, they will start sending you on better and better jobs. Then, if you really like a certain company, you can try and move to a permanent position with them. It's totally standard procedure and a great way to keep your skills sharp and meet a variety of employers. Good luck...
posted by victoriab at 6:51 AM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

No, you are under no obligations whatsoever to train your replacement especially considering you were/are a temp. That's the company's responsibility, and you are completely in the right for telling them "no" if they ask. That said, depending on what state you are in, they also may have the right to terminate your employment prior to the last two weeks if you choose to say no. I think the best plan for resolving your current situation is to remind your boss that your original term ends soon and ask whether your services will still be needed. If his answer is yes, then that's when you start negotiations for increasing your pay as per your increased responsibilities.
posted by Meagan at 6:53 AM on September 10, 2010

Are you actually making any money at this job? The last time I had a low-paying, high-travel job, the commute was costing me so much money, that I'd have been making more working at the grocery checkout closer to home.

It was also a temp job, and I did see it through to the end (which I would recommend that you do too). Two days after they let me go, they called to ask for me back (apparently they fired ALL of the temps that Friday (Christmas, coincidentally), and couldn't get any work done on Monday) -- I declined.
posted by schmod at 6:58 AM on September 10, 2010

Response by poster: My checks disappear as soon as I get them. My boyfriend and I share the big expenses and I'm so glad that we're living together, because if I were doing this on my own I would be SKE-REWED. As it is now, I feel pretty screwed. Paying for my car, insurance, gas and figuring in the over-mileage alone accounts for almost an entire check. (In my defense, I regret leasing and will never do it again - when I first got it, things were very different... dependable job, good income, 1 mile drive to work, etc)

Thank you all for your advice. I will finish it out and probably then some, but I hope to find something much closer to home. And soon!! :)

And I need to get it out of my head that I'd be responsible for training. I always forget that this stuff falls on the employer, not me!
posted by slyboots421 at 7:03 AM on September 10, 2010

I'm just curious what your day will look like when you start court reporting school. Is this job full-time and school is in the evening, or viceversa? Either way, you can use the start of school as your excuse when you are ready to quit - "I'm so flattered that you value my work enough to expand my duties/offer me permanent position BUT I am finding the course way more difficult than I thought/ I need more time to study/and the commute is using valuable study hours/whatever so I won't be able to continue working here". The best part about this excuse is that you can use it anytime - right when the course starts, or a few weeks later once you've "really come to understand what the course entails".

As stated above, you are under no obligation to continue past your assignment. It is certainly is a good idea to stay until your agreed-upon date, especially as your father's reputation is involved too. You get to decide if you want to quit at that time, or try to stay (if they'll keep you) until you find another job. Don't worry about the training and other assignments that they give you. They can hire another temp who will get up to speed just as quickly as you did.
posted by CathyG at 7:13 AM on September 10, 2010

You're a temp, Slyboots! With that comes a certain amount of freedom. Someone puts something on your desk you don't know what to do with? You smile winningly and say, "I have no idea what to do with that!" Then go back to your work or, if you're bored, tell them you're happy to learn.

Here's what the company gets: a cheap, warm body who fills in temporarily and manages to hold things together without offering paid leave, health insurance or any sort of stability. Keep in mind the rules of the deal and don't stress out about it. Do your best to do the job you were hired to do. Get the temp agency to get going on finding you a new position in two weeks.
posted by amanda at 8:10 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

You should continue looking for another job -- people make all sorts of assumptions about working moms that they really shouldn't make.

Yes, assume she is going to return. She's just a bit too exhausted right now to be giving her boss daily updates on how she can't wait to come back to work. (Has no one else at your office ever had a new baby?)

When I took FMLA, I was required to return to work afterward for some stipulated amount of time or else I was going to have to pay back all the money that our organization had spent on keeping me on their health insurance in my absence. Now, that's incentive!
posted by Knowyournuts at 10:37 AM on September 10, 2010

Best answer: When you're at work, act as if you'll have this job forever.

If someone hands you something to do, and you don't know how to do it, ask to be trained on it. What's the worst-case situation there? That you'll spend a few hours being trained to do something. I'm assuming you get paid by the hour, so you get paid whether you're working or being trained.

When you're not at work, act as though the job will be gone in two weeks.

Keep looking for work, going on interviews, getting your resume out there, and working it. If you find a better job, take it.

Unless someone's been told something that they're not telling you, "She's not coming back" is sheer speculation on their part. I don't see any reason to assume she won't be back when her maternity leave ends. (It's silly! If someone went on vacation for two weeks, halfway through would these people start assuming he would never come back?)
posted by ErikaB at 10:58 AM on September 10, 2010

Without question, two weeks before you're going to leave, sit down with them and let them know you'd be interested in continuing the job for $x, assuming there is a value for x that would actually make the job worthwhile to keep. If it's really as bad as you say, don't shortchange yourself with a "realistic" number -- there's no need whatsoever for your number to be realistic. What it needs to be is a number that doesn't leave you thinking "oh shit, I should have asked for more" if you get it.

If you don't get it, then end your temp stint after the two weeks, and find something you like better. This is pretty straightforward.
posted by davejay at 11:09 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh, and "I hate my job, and my paycheck leaves me at a net loss every month" is about the worst situation you can be in. You're lucky enough to have a boyfriend who's subsidizing you, but if it isn't for your long-term career growth and goals, you can have a job you hate that pays enough to break even, or a job you love that leaves you at a net loss every month -- both of which still suck -- and still be better off. So I should think the one option that doesn't work, provided your boyfriend is able to keep you in food and shelter, and is willing to, is "stick it out", because you're just continuing to sacrifice your emotional and financial well-being to no good purpose.
posted by davejay at 11:14 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

hell, even "I don't have a job right now" can sometimes be better that "I hate my job + net loss financially", because that job you hate impedes your ability to stay positive, stay focused on the job search, and have time for interviews
posted by davejay at 11:15 AM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

better THAN
posted by davejay at 11:15 AM on September 10, 2010

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