Free food

This week I’ve been working a temp job at a market research facility. They have a small full-time staff and hire temps when there’s more work than the core team can handle. This week, there are multiple firms using the offices– the hidden microphones, two-way mirrors, stenography services, secretarial services– so a half dozen of us were called in. From 1130 – 830 we interview people about their impressions and preferences regarding a product. The interview we’re currently doing are supposed to take 45 minutes, but we’ve gotten it down to about 30 min. Sometimes the interviews are back-to-back and sometimes there are breaks in between, anywhere from 5 minutes to a half hour– there’s no scheduled break, but today there were probably a couple of hours of downtime altogether. It’s very high-energy, but the breaks are sufficient. Moreover, there is a lot of free food. There’s free soda, water, coffee, tea, and snacks (chips, popcorn, fresh-baked cookies every few hours) all the time, and our boss provides us with lunch (yesterday pizza, today sandwiches). But beyond that, there’s leftover food from the people who are doing the market research ordering too much food for themselves and the people they’ve got stuck in focus groups all day long. For instance, this morning one of the groups had ordered themselves a breakfast buffet. When I got into work, a substantial amount of this food was still left, and I had a nice big hot breakfast (which was great because I didn’t eat breakfast at home today). Since I’ve been trying to cut costs, variety of foodstuffs is of major interest to me. I like the job anyway (it reminds me of two of my favorite previous jobs– canvassing for an environmental PAC and teaching–; it gets me out of the house, and it pays better than any other job I’ve had) but the free food really puts it over the top.

(The other temps feel the same way. We’re all begging for jobs there. Let this be a lesson to you, Companies. Free food goes a long way toward employee satisfaction!)

This week has also proven good in two other ways. First, the weather is gorgeous– warm and sunny. It’s spring and all the flowers are up. I walk through our small local park to get to the subway and it’s full of tulips, daffodils and blossoming trees. I get off at Bryant Park, which is packed with people soaking up the sun and smells like hyacinth. Their tulips, daffodils and hyacinths are out too, and you can smell the hyacinth half a block away. I was kind of amazed that you could smell them at all– it’s New York City! It shouldn’t smell like flowers. But it does. In a similar act of defiance, girls are out bare-legged with flip-flops on. Flip-flops, always an impractical shoe, seem especially impractical for New York. It’s so dirty here that you can see the dirt on their almost-bare feet. And you certainly can’t walk at the typical New Yorker pace in those things. It’s spring– it’s almost as if by force of will.

Second, I’ve received both a number of job interviews and a number of leads. I’ve scheduled four job interviews for Monday through Wednesday of next week, and there are two more to take care of; a friend has arranged a meeting for me with a ludicrously important editor; my resume has come a long way, and apparently my cover letter has vastly improved.


About Jessica Smith
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3 Responses to Free food

  1. Sandra says:

    Reading this entry made me really smile. Springtime in the Park…a good time for taking root, eh?

  2. If there’s somewhere to be, the first question my husband asks, the question that begins & possibly ends the negotiations: “Will there be food?” with the tacit understanding that it’s only worth mentioning if it’s free…

    Good luck!

  3. Glad things are looking up! I loved a free-food oriented market research I had once – it was interviewing little kids at a theme park about candy flavors. Good times.
    Good luck in the interviews and meeting with the important editor!

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