I’m temping for my Mother, who despite all appearances to the contrary has a real, grown-up job. I arrived at 11.30am, which I am aware is not usually the start of the professional working day, but I had a pre-existing Genius Bar appointment at the Apple Store, and those things are harder to come by than the opportunity to laugh at my Mother’s foolishness in a professional environment, so we all had to work around it.
Equally, my Mother had not concerned herself with insignificant details such as ‘working hours’ or ‘salary’, so I felt free to make it up as I went along.
This is not the first time I’ve temped for my Mother. I started, aged 16, during a Summer holiday, where I was enticed by the idea of ‘making my CV look good’ into lugging boxes of files up and down the various flights of her office. David Sedaris wrote a series of excellent and amusing stories about the Summer he spent as a removal man in New York. I sulked, and vowed never to work for my Mother again.
Which sees me, naturally, back here for the next two weeks, offering holiday cover for one of her staff. (I should probably be more firmly aware of what particular role I am covering, but my Mother has a series of ‘people’ who perform various tasks for her, at home and in the office, and I have only a very nebulous idea of what everyone does. There is, I am told, a ‘knife man’, who sharpens her knives, just to give a clearer idea of the types of things my Mother likes to outsource).
Temping for my Mother is going well, despite her firm belief that we share a cosmic bond which means that I already know what she is thinking, and that therefore she does not need to bother herself with giving me clear or understandable instructions. (I, at all times, have very little idea what my Mother is thinking. Yesterday she stared at me in horror until I asked what was wrong, at which point she stated that she ‘very much liked my new jumper.’) Equally, there has been very little heavy lifting, which only leads me to suspect that there’s a new ‘box man’, who I very much hope to cross paths with. ‘Make the most of this opportunity,’ I will tell him or her, as they lumber up the stairs. ‘And in a few years you could be me.’