Sessions, Haley, Pruitt, Tillerson, Scaramucci, etc., etc. — once full-time “temps” in the West Wing, but now they’re history, unceremoniously pulled from 45’s desktop Rolodex of “temps.”

Sarah Sanders keeps a small travel bag packed at all times. Some say she keeps her car idling in the parking lot.

They’ll all survive. Even the president knows that he or she is just a temp.

Every college grad in the world knows what it’s like to be a temp. Temps are the backbones of every store, firm and political campaign. Lifetime jobs are part of the past.

For 35 years I’ve been “temping” at this paper, waiting for them to get wise and cash me out.

Everybody in the world of entertainment has been a temp at one time or another in their careers.

Before “Rocky,” Sylvester Stallone cleaned the lion cages at the Central Park Zoo.

Dustin Hoffman worked as a janitor in a dance studio, coat checker, dishwasher, and he and I both sold toys at Macy’s, probably not at the same time. I would have remembered.

Danny DeVito was a hairdresser at his his sister’s beauty parlor. Yes, he was.

Nobody dreams of becoming a temp, but there’s the rent, the phone bill, lunch and supper.

In L.A. your Verizon tech, car salesperson and Uber driver is either a screenwriter or actor, each one a temp, all part of the landscape of La La Land, like the swimming pools and palm trees.

She and I are a temp love story.

I met She when we were both struggling actors, temping as sales clerks at Bloomingdale’s in Manhattan.

True story: She was temping as a page at NBC Studios, and backstage each night she played poker with the Perry Como dancers and stage hands. They dropped her because she kept winning.

Her best temp job was as a singing and dancing waitress at a private East Side Roaring Twenties-themed nightclub.

I would get off work from desk clerking at one or another Manhattan hotel and pick her up at the alley entrance to the club. Every 20 minutes she would appear at the door and hand me a mug of champagne, because Matty, the bartender, couldn’t keep it after it was opened.

If you were down from Maine, sightseeing in Manhattan in the summer of 1957, you might have seen me performing at the famous old Roxy Theatre on West 50th between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue.

I was the usher in the cape and hat out on the street, shouting,“Immediate seating in the balcony.” The great Roxy was demolished in 1960 just as we drove away to Hollywood.

Some winter days I stood at the cologne counter in Bloomingdale’s department store in a nice tux, smiling and spritzing the latest perfume on passing women, while She was up on the third floor temping in “Better Dresses.”

Comedian Dom DeLuise and I sold intermission drinks in the lobbies of Broadway shows and, on Saturday nights, loaded the Sunday New York Times on the trucks.

In my temp life I have cleaned apartments, sold popcorn at an X-rated movie theater and assembled furniture in new high-rise apartment buildings. All lucrative “temp” jobs.

As you can tell, the life of a professional “temp” can be exhausting. Some temped for years until their luck changed.

Actor Jack Brady, who temped as a waiter at the famous 21 Club in New York, made more money in one night than he had in six months as an actor, as much as a thousand bucks.

The last I heard, he married a famous movie star’s widow he met at the club, and they have a home in Palm Springs. I love it.

Our lives as temps ended when television work began to grow, and She wisely became a teacher.

But we have our memories. On our last visit to Manhattan, a woman stopped us on Park Avenue, put her hand on my arm, squinted at me, and said, “I know you. I remember you. …”

Hoping she had seen me on “The Tonight Show” or “The Bob Newhart Show,” I smiled.

Then she said, “You were the young man in the front of the Roxy Theatre on Saturday nights, telling people in line that there were seats in the balcony. Right? Am I right?”

Once a temp, always a temp.

 

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.


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