So you’re at work with nothing to do and nothing to do in the foreseeable future. You haven’t made any friends because, technically, you’re a temp — a cool outsider who will be gone in a day or two. This doesn’t stop you from suffering from the well-known fatigue that often accompanies office work. Here are some ways to pass time while cultivating a daring office persona.
- Take the stairs. You’re on the 8th floor and you spend your time in an unreasonably quiet work space. Why not mix it up and play a little noise roulette? Instead of taking the elevator from floor to floor — which is a nice way to pass the time, but the cameras in the elevator prohibit full self-expression — why not take the stairs? In the stairwell you are free to be yourself. Warm up your voice with any number of tongue twisters: Red Leather, Yellow Leather, Peter Piper Picked A Peck of Pickled Peppers, maybe some sharp staccato or vibrato for flair? Rehearse your monologue from Magnolia for that audition you have coming up “You motherfucker… you motherfucker… you FUCKING ASSHOLE, WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU? WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?..” The acoustics in the stairwell are fantastic, so your voice will reverberate throughout the spine of the building allowing your coworkers to speculate: “What the temp’s up to?” And this is just what you want! In addition to your temp mystique you’ll now be viewed around the office as “the odd duck,” “loose cannon,” or “weird Liz.” This is a great way to build a reputation and ensure that you’ll always be on the outside of your workplace’s social circle.
- Make your phone work for you. Use speaker phone for every call. This endears you to your colleagues (Ha, that’s rich. Colleagues. The only thing these people are in league with is whatever scraps of food may come their way. Honestly, somebody gets a box of cookies and it’s like releasing a drop of blood into a river filled with piranha) and guarantees that whatever you talk about on the phone will be discussed ad nauseam by the full-timers. Take this opportunity to air your dirtiest laundry. Need to break up with your boyfriend/girlfriend, do it over speaker phone. Need to schedule a pap smear? Speakerphone! Need to apologize for your drunken, naked behavior last night? Do it loudly! Using speakerphone on every call tells to those around you that you are living on the edge, ready for anything and, indeed, dangerous, but in a fun way!
- Hydrate or die. An expression commonly heard at The Grand Canyon, why not use this sage wisdom around the workplace? When starting a new temp job, it’s good to make a positive impression like “I DRINK LIQUIDS!” On your first day, be sure to bring your over-sized water bottle, or better yet, an empty milk gallon. Routinely refill your jug. Now, you might be saying, “Hey I can’t drink a gallon of water, let alone multiple gallons of water in one work day!” Fear not, at your feet there’s a handy trash receptacle at where you can drain your jug over the passing hours. Both relaxing and functional, this new office water feature will dull the passing of time, and elicit a fair amount of side eye from your cubemate, creating a tangible level of tension, fear and curiosity to add some depth to your work alter-ego.
- Take long trips to the bathroom and repeat often. It’s no surprise that slamming ounce after ounce of water and creating your own urine sound machine will drive you to the restroom. Luckily, there are a multitude of time-passing, character-building opportunities in the WC. First, amble. No need to rush. Saunter down the hallway like a boozed up socialite. Or conversely, hold it. Hold it until your nose bleeds. Wait until you’re in the middle of talking to your coworker, boss, client and then “Ah! There’s no time! I gotta goooooooooo!!!” Once in the bathroom, sit down, kick off your shoes and stay a while. Never miss the opportunity for an exclamation, heavy sigh, gag, or moan. A well placed “oh. my. god.” or “what are you doing here?!” will surely peak your coworker’s interest and horror. This is a perfect way to cultivate your office persona as both the cool, aloof outsider as well as unstable wildcard!
- Fresh air, don’t care! The final and most effective way to pass time at your job is, surprisingly, outside the office. That’s right, the window! Pull up your desk chair and drink in the city skyline. You might be saying, “Wait a second, the window is right in front of a coworker’s desk!” No bother, sit down and let them know you’re on your lunch break. It’s your time and you get to use it as you see fit. Not just a great way to recharge, the window is also fantastic for problem solving. You get asked a question you can’t answer? (This happens too often. No one can get it through their god-damned heads that you’re a temp and not privy to every inane thing that has happened in this beige prison for the past 570 years!) Don’t sweat it, head to your paned prophet, open it and shout the question into the ether. If you can’t open your window, shout your question right into the glass! This display of resourcefulness coupled with your cool confidence will make your questioner uncomfortable. Moving forward, It is much more likely you will hear “oh, I wouldn’t talk to her, she’s at the window.” than requests for information.
With these five easy tips you can transform your workday from one of dull administrative tasks to intricate games of cat and mouse, forcing those you work with to question their reality, value, and yes, mortality!