Action Recruitment finally sent me a reply to my hefty complaints letter. It was quite discursive, more than I’ve been led to expect by most complaints procedures. Mostly I’m amazed they even went to the trouble. I did break from most normal, sane, non-Telegraph-reading people’s letter-writing style and put “MPhys MInstP” after my name. I could always tell when a letter came from them then, as the first line of the address stretched underneath the stamp.

The gist of the letter was that they were actually introducing three new (minor) changes in the way that temps are handled. That’s a success in itself, although the changes—like introducing new temps to the office secretary so that, when the agent inevitably starts screening your calls, the fact that you know the name of whoever you’re being fobbed off onto gives you a warm glow in your otherwise wintry heart—aren’t so much irrelevant as what you’d expect a decent company to be doing anyway.

Unfortunately the letter didn’t address the main problem, which was that I had been purposefully lied to by Action employees over my jury duty in order to keep me sweet as long as my duty didn’t make me a liability. That was the event that finally caused me to lose any kind of faith in the company, so it was a shame that none of the procedural changes will ever prevent employees like C.—whose behaviour first prompted me to complain—from lying through their smiling teeth at anyone they fancy. Granted everyone at head office seems to have a consistent policy, which is:

to discriminate against anyone called upon to do their civic duty, and make no attempt to help them obtain recompense from the government for their loss of earnings.

It’s not a very friendly policy, and seems at odds with the opinions of people at Oxford Combined Court. But for all I know in the field of employee and discrimination legislation the court officials may bow to the superior wisdom of the first point of contact among second-rate employees of a tertiary-industry, temporary employment agency. The point is that I was told one thing by C. and then, as my service loomed closer and I had planned things based around the promise of support from Action, C. began telling an entirely different story. She, of course, got a clean bill of health, as her professional colleague and friend L. saw fit to entirely acquit her professional colleague and friend C. (I think it was L; I don’t care that much).

But there was some remorse from her. Well, you know, “remorse” anyway. The woman at head office said that, if I wanted to, the two-faced C. would like to apologise to me in person (the adjective “two-faced” wasn’t actually used in the letter; hence indirect speech). Whether she does or not I don’t really care. Most likely she just thinks “shit! I got one that wasn’t completely demoralized by our relentless, soul-sucking ‘good agent/bad agent’ routine. And one that was actually literate and knew enough to write to head office. I won’t be working with doctoral students again, that’s for certain.” Being willing to apologise to me is probably some business fad at the moment, brought in from the Japanese only without anything committal like suicide, or maybe Catholic penance without anything uncomfortable like flagellation and sackcloth.

At any rate, now I have a permanent job, in a field I want to work in for a long, long time. I got it on my own merit without any help from that C. woman and her idiot face. So, as I tore each page of their correspondence with me into four quarters, and dumped them in the bin and then into the week’s black binbag, I realised with relief that my conversations with all employees of the Susan Hamilton group are over.

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