Author: Jill Elaine Hughes
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age: New Adult
Publication Date: December 24, 2012
The heroine, Melanie Evers, is a plucky young working-class woman from Akron, Ohio struggling to support herself in Chicago in the post-9-11 economy. TEMPLAND follows Melanie's journey through the temporary employment world from a college student on "just a summer job" to a 28-year-old woman with a lot of intelligence (and a heap of student loan debt to match) through multiple layoffs and a series of ever-more-wacky temp assignments, as she struggles not only to survive, but also to find romance and always remain true to the honest, working-class values instilled in her by her beloved grandfather.
In her long, solitary journey through Templand, Melanie encounters adventure and romance on her search for that always-elusive Permanent Job---which she finally gets, along with her man. TEMPLAND is a highly entertaining, wickedly funny social satire, contemporary romance, and mystery novel all rolled into one.
After another forty-five minutes of counting ceiling tiles, re-memorizing the pattern of the neutral carpeting, and peeling my cuticles with one of the emery boards that fell out of Kathy Kirkland’s purse, a guy about my age stepped off the elevator. He had on an Akron State T-shirt and khakis, stood about six-foot-one, and was very cute.
“Hi, are you the Temp?”
“Yeah,” I said. “I’m the Temp---I mean, I’m Melanie Evers. Heathlap sent me.”
“I’m Dave from Hoxwell IT. I’ve got your computer and your network password. If you’ll just follow me I’ll get you all set up. ‘Kay?”
Hoxwell IT Dave took a keycard from his pocket and got us past the magnetic security door. He led me down a series of nondescript halls until we stopped at an empty cubicle facing a large corner office. I glanced into the open office door and saw Kathy Kirkland sitting inside, staring out the floor-to-ceiling glass window. Her office had expensive-looking furniture and a framed Mark Rothko print. There were papers stacked everywhere, some of which looked positively ancient.
“Is this where I’ll be working?” I asked, looking around my empty cubicle.
“Yep,” said Hoxwell IT Dave. “I don’t know why Kathy Kirkland had you sit out there by yourself for so long. She could have had you wait at your cube for me to come set up your computer instead of having you wait outside counting ceiling tiles.”
“You noticed that?” I said with some embarrassment.
“Oh, all the temps do that around here. I even do it sometimes, when I’m bored. Did you know there are precisely 53 ceiling tiles in the lobbies on every floor?”
“No,” I said, laughing. “You know, Ms. Kirkland doesn’t seem to know anything about what I’m supposed to do here.”
Hoxwell IT Dave looked over his shoulder for a moment and then leaned in close to me. “That’s to be expected,” he near-whispered. “Kathy Kirkland is basically crazy. Crazy and lazy. She doesn’t do anything around here. Or at least that’s what I’ve heard, and from what I’ve seen, the rumors are true.”
“But isn’t she the CFO of Blood Accounting?” I thought anyone with such an important (if weird) title would be loaded with all kinds of work and important meetings, messages, and phone calls. Not to mention things to type, file, and otherwise take care of. I was the Temp----isn’t that where I came in?
“You’ll find that there are a lot of people here that don’t really do anything,” Hoxwell IT Dave grumbled. “Chair-warmers, that’s all. Buncha fucking overpaid chair-warmers.”
I was a little stunned by this. “What do you do?”
“Not a whole lot---I guess you could say I’m a chair-warmer myself. General IT stuff. I finished my degree in Computer Technology last year and then I got this job through the job placement office at school. It’s a pretty easy gig. I get to set up people’s computers and assign passwords when they start a new job here. Sometimes I clean up virus attacks. But mostly I just sit up in the server room waiting for helpdesk calls.”
Hoxwell IT Dave ran his hands through his wavy brown hair---which was as shiny and tousled as any Calvin Klein model’s--and then began connecting and disconnecting wires on a PC sitting underneath my desk. He flipped a couple of switches and dusted off his hands. “There, you’re all set,” he said. “Since you’re just a temp I can’t assign you a real login and password. You’ll just have a temporary password for right now. How long are you supposed to be working here?”
“The agency said I could work here all summer until I go back to school.”
Hoxwell IT Dave lowered his voice again. “Um, Melanie, I don’t want to scare you or anything, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re only here a couple days. You might not even last here one day. Which is not a bad reflection on you or anything. But there’s been so many temps in and out of your job----I can’t even remember how many anymore.”
“What do you mean?”
“Basically, either Kathy will just fire you and send you back to your temp agency when you look at her the wrong way, or you’ll quit because she’s driving you completely out of your mind. That’s pretty much what’s happened to all the other temps they’ve sent to do this job.” Hoxwell IT Dave ran his fingers through his gorgeous Calvin Klein hair again. It was hard for me to keep from staring at him.
“How long has this been going on?” I asked.
“Well, I’ve been here about a year. They’ve had an average of three temps a week in and out of this job ever since I started, and I hear that the person who used to have this job permanently quit about two years before I started, way back when they were still in the old building, so I guess that there were two or three temps a week in and out of here for at least a year before I started. So, basically, a long time.”
Okay, so now I was petrified. Was this why Rhinestone Glasses Lady said my start date was flexible? “What am I supposed to be doing?”
“Nobody told you?”
“Well, the lady at the temp agency said it was just basic secretarial work, you know, typing and filing and answering the phone kind of stuff.” I mean, how hard could that possibly be?
Hoxwell IT Dave raised his eyebrows. “That’s what they said, huh?”
“Is something wrong? I mean, is there something more to this work? Nobody’s even given me any instructions.”
“Melanie. That’s your name, right? I’ll just tell you this. As an IT person, I get to see a lot of stuff that’s stored on the computers here. Including salaries. So let’s just say that Kathy Kirkland gets paid $112,000 a year to come in late and sit on her ass staring out the window when she’s supposed to be in charge of tracking all the blood and plasma coming in and out of this place. She doesn’t do anything she’s supposed to do, but yet somehow the work still gets done so she gets to keep her job. Who do you think does everything for her?”
He scribbled something down onto a pad and then tore off the sheet. Hoxwell IT Dave handed me the slip of paper, gave me a wink, and then disappeared down the hall.
I glanced at the slip of paper:
Five Fun Facts about the Author
- naturally curly hair.
- I’ve visited more than 20 countries.
- I absolutely hate mashed potatoes. (But baked potatoes and French fries are OK).
- I am dangerously allergic to bee stings.
- I love the Beatles and named my daughter after a Fleetwood Mac song. (Guess which one?)
Author Jill Elaine Hughes
Jill Elaine Hughes is a professional playwright, novelist, journalist and freelance writer with more than 15 years' experience in publishing and professional writing/editing. She has contributed to many newspapers and national magazines, including the Washington Post, theChicago Tribune, Yahoo! Shine, the Chicago Reader, the New Art Examiner, Cat Fancy magazine, and many others. Her plays have received productions nationwide and internationally, are widely published, and have been anthologized alongside Pulitzer and Tony winners. She is also a published novelist under the pen names "Jamaica Layne" and "Jay Hughes", and recently began self-publishing New Adult fiction under her own name.