The 5 Stages of Temp Contract Cancellation

8 Jun

A major drawback of doing temp work is that you can be “let go” without warning. Last Friday, my two officemates and I were cheerfully doing our work, chatting a bit, when we received a surprise visit from two of our superiors.

“Hi guys. We, um, have some bad news…” Cue the stomach drop.

As I say, this is the life of a temp; you’re always waiting for that shoe to drop. Yet, this contract had been extended to October, so it hit us even harder than usual. Throughout the course of Friday, part of me watched in a bit of amusement as the three of us went through what I came to label “The 5 Stages of Temp Contract Cancellation”¹:

  1. Shock. Characterized by a lot of wide-eyed blinking, and the thought: “But… but… but…”
  2. Nausea. “Oh my god, I’m out of a job. Again. I was counting on those paychecks through October. I had it all figured out, how I was going to cover my vacation and bills and…”
  3. Anxiety. “Was it something we did? We talked too much. Or we weren’t working fast enough. And those other two temps are staying? Wait, what? But they started after me! It was something we did. Oh god oh god oh god…”
  4. Flailing. This stage is characterized by frantic emails and/or calls to your temp agency/ies. “Hi, yes. Contract. cancelled. Stop. Please. help. Stop. Need. work.” BREATHE!
  5. Understanding. For me, this stage came after chats with a couple of the permanent employees and the temp agency that placed me in the position. In all those talks, the latter one in particular, I received reassurance that it was nothing I did. Due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, a situation that took everyone by surprise, there was going to be a sudden drop in work volume and income, so they had to let three of us go. The company was happy with my work and is keeping my name on file for future potential hires (temp or permanent). Difficult as it was to have this happen, it’s simply the nature of the business. (As for those other two temps: sometimes you just have to relax with not knowing…frustrating as it is.)

I’ve written about this workplace before and how much I liked my supervisor, and this experience hasn’t dampened that. For one thing, it wasn’t her fault, as noted above. For another, it was the way the news was broken to us; she was visibly upset about having to let us go. I genuinely hope I get another chance to work with her someday; I really did enjoy my time there.

In the meantime, my agency is working hard to find a new position for me: I was told they are “proactively promoting [my] experience” and that I’m in “good standing” with them. Fingers crossed for quick work!

1 For those of you familiar with the 5 stages of grief and the mnemonic DABDA… enjoy.

4 Responses to “The 5 Stages of Temp Contract Cancellation”

  1. NFAH 8 June 2010 at 19:27 #

    It’s no easier in the supposedly permanent contract world right now. And in the expat world, the stakes are pretty high when work permit visas are involved… Hoping you sort it out soon!

    • ButMadNNW 8 June 2010 at 19:36 #

      Thanks! I’ve already had a few calls from two of my agencies, but nothing has been set up yet. My trip to Florida in two weeks is causing some issue, as I feared it would. But that trip is to see my family (who I haven’t seen since last August) to celebrate my brother-in-law’s retirement from the Marine Corps, so there’s no way I’m cancelling!

      And yeah, as badly as I want to emigrate, the whole work permit thing kind of scares me. Not likely to stop me trying, but scares me.

  2. Simon 9 June 2010 at 16:26 #

    Hey, at least you won’t have any problem with our new “gotta speak English proper” rules. 🙂

    Bad news about the job, I know you were quite happy at this place. With any luck the next one will be as good.

    • ButMadNNW 9 June 2010 at 16:37 #


      So far, the most solid lead on a new job would be $0.50 more per hour. So that’s good. 🙂 *crosses fingers*

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