Only hopeless degenerates and full-time losers work the graveyard shift, so I’m surprised to see Swiss Miss sit down between me and a temp who looks more like Bea Arthur than any woman should.
It’s midnight, and 8 a.m. is a long way off. An associate with dark circles under his eyes checks on us fifteen minutes into our shift.
“You guys know what you’re doing, right?”
Before I can say yes, he’s gone. There will be little supervision.
I set about trying to look busy, knowing that in an hour our associate overlord will pop in one last time before morning to make sure work is actually being done.
As predicted, the associate pokes his head in just after 1 a.m. Ever the gunner, Swiss Miss tries to chat him up in a pathetic attempt to land herself a BigLaw job. But our associate is too tired to talk and too jaded to care.
By 2 a.m., I have learned three things:
- Swiss Miss is so dumb, she thinks the graveyard shift is for workers;
- Bea Arthur is a lifelong booze-hound who got bounced from BigLaw 20 years ago when she tried to argue a motion for summary judgment with a fifth of Jack in her hand; and
- there’s a rumor of beer on the floor above us.
At 3:21 a.m., Bea Arthur makes an announcement.
“I don’t know about you two dingbats, but I’m going to grab a beer and a nap,” she says.
I stand up to join Bea Arthur.
“You coming, Blondie?”
“We’re supposed to work.”
Bea Arthur looks at the file boxes in our tiny office.
But Swiss Miss doesn’t get up.
“Look, Blondie,” Bea Arthur begins, “the only way this works is if we all go, and I need a beer, so let’s get this show on the road.”
It takes minutes, but Swiss Miss finally succumbs to the peer pressure.
As the elevator door opens on the floor above, Swiss Miss tries to talk us out of our mission.
“This floor is where the partners work,” she says with a sense of awe in her voice. “Why don’t we turn around?”
“I want to check out the art on this floor,” Bea Arthur says, walking toward an empty conference room.
We all marvel at the modern art monstrosities that hang on the wall. Only Bea has the balls to feel up the canvas.
“You’re ruining it!” Swiss Miss snaps.
“Art’s for enjoying. No harm, no foul,” Bea Arthur says.
“I thought we came to get beer,” Swiss Miss says.
“You’re right,” Bea Arthur says. “There’s a kitchen around here. You two should go see what they’ve got.”
I leave the conference room, and Swiss Miss follows in short order.
“We’re going to get in trouble,” Swiss Miss says as I pull a case of Heineken from the fridge.
“You don’t have to stay. But I think you will.”
“Because you’re terrified of not fitting in,” I answer as we make our way back.
“You don’t know me,” Swiss Miss says.
“You’re a gunner.”
“So, now it’s time to start thinking like a temp. This is why you work the graveyard shift—to screw off.”
We reach the door to the conference room. Through the glass, we see a barefoot Bea trying to work the television.
“I’m not comfortable with this,” Swiss Miss says.
“If you stay for one beer, she won’t give you any shit. But if you back out, she’ll ride you until this assignment’s over.”
“I can live with that.”
“Temping is a small world. Sort of like Hollywood, but for losers.”
Bea Arthur fiddles with the television, and through the glass, we can see she’s found a poker tournament on ESPN2. A commercial comes on, and Bea Arthur turns to the door. Seeing the beer, she beckons us to enter.
“I can’t,” Swiss Miss says.
“Suit yourself,” I say. “But drinking beats working any day.”
I open the door and let myself in as Swiss Miss backs away. But as she leaves, I feel a modicum of regret—drinking beer and undressing Swiss Miss would’ve been a great night.
“Blondie chickened out?” Bea Arthur asks as she opens a Heineken.
“She’ll learn,” Bea Arthur says. “Or, she’ll quit temping for good.”
“She wants a BigLaw job, and when she doesn’t get it, she’ll bounce.”
“Case of Heineken says she’ll screw that sleep-deprived associate who’s supervising us before this assignment is over,” Bea Arthur says.
“You think she wants BigLaw that bad?”
Bea Arthur nods.
“She’s not like that.”
“Soft on her or do you just want to bang her like every other guy here?”
“I just don’t think she’d sleep her way in.”
“Then it’s a bet.”
The poker tournament comes back on, and Bea Arthur fishes another beer from the case.
“Looks like it’s just you and me on this case,” Bea Arthur says.
We drink and watch poker until we run out of beer and nod off.
Just before 8 a.m., our supervisor wakes us up.
“Your coworker said I’d find you two in here,” he says. “Care to explain?”
There is no explanation, none that will work anyway. And as I think about what I’m going to tell the agency, Bea Arthur hatches her own plan.
“We had to come up here,” Bea Arthur says. “That blonde girl wouldn’t stop yapping about you. I think she’s a sex fiend or something.”
There’s no way he’s buying this, but maybe it’s the lack of sex or sleep that prompts the associate to say, “And what about the beer?”
That’s the only opening a bullshit artist like Bea Arthur needs.
“You need a new cleaning crew,” Bea Arthur says, and for some reason that seems almost plausible.
The associate nods.
“Clean up the beer,” he says as he walks out.
“I can’t believe he bought that,” I tell Bea Arthur.
“Are you kidding? I used to work here. If he’s half as sex-deprived as I was back then, that associate is on his way to find Blondie right now.”
Temper(a)mental is written by a real legal temp. He has a license and a law degree. We checked. He’ll continue to post his “thoughts” in between doing “your work.”