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TEN BEST HOLIDAY TEMP JOBS

by Brian Clarey

RETAIL HELL

Looking to make a few extra bucks this holiday season? Well, loose cash is out there for the making during the holiday season, when Americans are conditioned to mindlessly spend and consume, often in memory of a poor carpenter from Nazareth who believed in helping the poor. But I digress…. The lowest-hanging fruit of the temporary holiday labor market is working the floor in retail stores, which generally see a surge in business as people check off the names on their gift lists.

OFFICE TEMP

Temporary office gigs are easy to score because everyone is generally trying to cash in the last of the year’s paid vacation time. If you know how to send an e-mail work a fax machine, make coffee, answer a phone and have a familiarity with the alphabet, then you should have no problem working in an office. The worst things about being an office temp? You generally get the jobs no one else wants to do, and nobody wants to hang out with you because they know you’ll be gone soon. The best thing? Being able to say, “Sorry, I’m new” whenever you screw up

CHRISTMAS TREE SALESMAN

You could be the best damn Christmas tree salesman in the entire world, and you’re still not gonna get any work between January and October. The selling season is short, but the buyers are motivated. Plus you get to use a chainsaw.

DEPARTMENT STORE SANTA

I don’t know what the job requirements are for department store Santas, but I imagine they’re looking for people fat enough to fill the suits, willing to sit all day and patient enough to deal with children. Also, I presume, no registered sex offenders, but you never can tell these days.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS

Not sure how it’s rolling these days — restaurants around here are getting killed — but when I was in the biz we always used to hire a few extra bodies in anticipation of holiday crowds, most of which were not worth the ink in their name tags. If you can clear a table, change a keg, roll silverware, take a reservation and haul ice, then you are eminently qualified for restaurant work. But you should understand that sometimes you must do these duties simultaneously.

CATERING

This is similar to restaurant work. But I place it in its own category because, while I love working in restaurants, I absolutely hate manning a catering crew. Part of this is the nature of the gig: You’re working private parties, so your job is to more or less be invisible and the tips are lame to nonexistent. Also, it’s harder to eat on the job.

‘FREELANCE’ PAPER WRITER

Holiday time means the end of the semester draws near, and all those slackers who’ve been phoning it in all term now find themselves in states of near panic when their term papers come due. I am by no means endorsing cheating of any kind — with the price you pay for tuition these days, it’s ridiculous not to fill your brain as much as you can — but the fact remains that outsourced term papers command fine prices on the black market. Or so I’ve heard.

ESCORT

People get lonely around the holidays, and not everybody has a loving spouse to cuddle with by the fire. The next best thing, of course, is to pay someone to do this job. Male and female escorts are in high demand during the holiday season, and they can charge double on New Year’s Eve.

PERSONAL SHOPPER

Often busy professionals just don’t have the time to shop for themselves during this gift-laden season. Offer your services to any busy, rich people you know and soon you’ll be out in the stores, spending other people’s money. On the down side, you don’t get to keep the stuff. But then neither do they — they’re gifts, after all.

GIFT WRAPPER

Do you know how to work a pair of scissors? Have you mastered the art of putting a crease in paper? Have you got a roll of Scotch tape? Can you make curlicues out of thin, ribbed ribbons? Then you have what it takes to wrap presents professionally. After you set up shop, give me a call will you? I can’t do any of those things.

A Waterloo resident prunes trees in October, west Waterloo, NovaScotia. (Photo by Blake Wile, October 17, 2007. Image appears inarticle “Waterloo, Nova Scotia.”)

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