As much as I feel like it some times, I am not the only temp working in factories – although I imagine I’m the only one egotistical enough to write a blog on it. Temporary staff range from pupils on school holidays to students supplementing their loans, or people in between jobs who have rent to pay and, not to mention, our good friend Ron. Very rarely do I get to work with other temps, which is a shame as you often find common ground in just being a temp and you have a beautiful week-long friendship.
One company I got drafted to had a lot of big orders to make, so there were quite a few temps in the factory. There was a Law student, raising money for a year of study in Spain, another guy was a trained martial-arts extra and took a day off once to fight battle as an alien soldier at Pinewood Studios for some space-age combat movie, because apparently making cobnuts wasn’t quite as exciting. There was also some drifter who wore a wooly hat every day – in the middle of July – and, of course, our good friend Ron. We would sit together at lunch, and between us exchange quite a few interesting stories. We would collectively moan about how slow the clock seems to go, I would try my best Spanish in chatting up the young Legal filly and the boy with a severe head cold would talk about his upcoming trip to the Netherlands (I can’t imagine why anyone who wore dreadlocks under a beanie would want to go to Amsterdam; I don’t think he’ll be seeing the Van Gogh Museum – probably because it’s shut for renovations ……. and probably because he’s a massive stoner).
Our good friend Ron, however, was not captivated by all this and would sit, on his own, eating his sandwich and staring at the wall blankly. Then, when he was done eating, Ron would rest his hands out in front of him and stare blankly at the wall. Patiently, he would wait for one o’clock to arrive so we could all traipse back to the factory floor for more blank wall staring. I didn’t know whether to be offended by his choice in company at lunch time, over what I felt was a good group of interesting characters. I’ve heard of the proverbial brick wall conversation but never seen it in practice; I think it’s conducted telepathically because not a word came out of Ron’s mouth (or the wall’s for that matter), so maybe I should’ve been impressed more than anything.
But mainly I felt sad that this man, who was a lot older than the rest of us, didn’t have the confidence to approach anyone. It probably belied the reason why he didn’t have a full time job elsewhere. Sadly, as it goes, our good friend Ron was not much good, I wouldn’t describe him as a friend and, to protect his identity, his name isn’t even Ron.