Adequate Compensation

Working for a temp agency meant an ever-present loop of Musak played in her head. The musical genre depended on the business nature of the office where she was temporarily stationed. Maybe adult contemporary at a dental office, classical in a day spa, and country Western in the reception area of an industrial manufacturer. Actual acoustic country music on their PA system — unimaginable.

Temporary employees usually filled in for someone on an extended leave, and the only requirements were a pleasant customer service demeanor and a felony-free background. Duties mainly were no more difficult than answering the telephone, doing some light filing, and buzzing people in through a secure entryway. It wasn’t rocket science.

Nick Adams via Flickr

The inner-office dynamic left a lot to be desired for a temp, though. Patsy felt left out of the regular camaraderie, the potlucks and group baby showers, always being offered a piece of cake as an after-thought. She never quite felt like she fit in. Little did the woman realize it wasn’t necessarily her as a person, or what she considered her magnetic personality and wealth of witticisms, the others resented but more her habit of moving that pesky piece of Hanes elastic out of the rear of her two-sizes-too-small khakis that had crept its ways up her derriere. That and her pitiful lack of personal hygiene. The woman seemed to have no self-realization whatsoever.

Patsy resented those people she’d tried so hard to impress in such a short amount of time, their canned laughter echoing within earshot. Her feelings hurt at being excluded from their conversation, paranoia leading the woman to believe they were talking bad about her. The annoying ringtone resounded throughout the foyer, the line unanswered, as her body contorted around the front counter when Patsy tried in vain to hear what was so funny. It had always been her motto that if you were going to eavesdrop, you better damn well pay attention.

Good thing she was only there for a couple weeks or she would truly wear out her welcome.

Tension built inside her with all the imagined indiscretions she suffered from her co-workers. Calls she transferred to executives went unreturned, and Patsy had to reconcile the complaints when those customers tried again a second time. And a division manager had rudely admonished her when she entered the conference room to tell a sales reps his wife was on the line.

Ladies’ conversations would stop the minute Patsy walked up to join their little coffee klatch. No one appreciated the outfit she had so stealthily shoplifted from the Dress Barn. None of the other administrative staff members paid attention her Monday morning report of that weekend’s exotic rabbit breeders exhibition or the test results for her youngest son’s rare skin condition mysteriously acquired at gymnastics practice.

She couldn’t understand why she wasn’t considered a part of the team. All she really wanted was an invitation to happy hour.

Her third counselor suggested she work on taking things so personally, but what did he know anyway?

Patsy surprisingly culled quite a familiarity with information networks in her service as a temporary employee. These smaller companies without actual IT departments usually had one person on staff who handled the computer equipment, set up passwords, and did general maintenance on the firm’s internal system. It was enough for Patsy to glean the information she needed, break through their firewall, and develop a virus that would spread through to everyone’s PC the next morning at the first login.

She took a couple extra bagels from the employee break room and stuck them in her faux Michael Kors bag as she slipped out the back door.


*prompted by canned laughter originally written by Kir – Studio 30 Plus


  1. Oh yes, that one person you block or ridicule must be watched ever after. You painted such an accurate and creepy picture of her (even though it’s wrong to belittle a person). You want to applaud her tenacity and stay the hell away from her all at once.

    your writing made me her real and that awes and scares me (a little bit. 🙂 )

    nice job.

    • Thank you, Kir. Creepy to think of what may go on in the mind of someone like her and if they actually realize how they’re perceived. Gotta love working in an office, eh?

  2. The IT virus was in keeping with Patty’s passive-aggressive nature. I’m so glad you resisted having her bring a semi-automatic to the office and blowing everyone away like so many of these types do.

  3. Loved reading this. Patsy is a great creation and you manage to show her in her true light while making her not totally hateable somehow. Also love the details you creep in – especially her feelings about her counsellor. Nice write!

    • So many workplaces seem to have a Patsy who kind of gets snubbed (hence being named Patsy here) but almost seems to deserve it. A person can go back and forth on how she feels about a Patsy, gets on your nerves but sorta pitiful. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. Makes me glad my team is virtual, and our water cooler chats happen on Skype… What a wicked one that Patsy is, I hope yoou don’t work with a Patsy!

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