A man chooses freedom over stability in an uncertain job market and gains a unique perspective on working in America.
After four years spent in a go-nowhere communications job in Columbus, Ohio, Fedcamp is fed up and opts out of the traditional nine-to-five grind to take on a string of temporary and freelance employment opportunities. For Fedcamp, no job is too small, no task too ludicrous and even in a climate where job security is revered, his motivation and open-mindedness offers him the possibility to do the unthinkable—work outside the system and become the eponymous “permanent temporary.” Fedcamp’s book is his firsthand account of this undertaking as he travels the country, taking on numerous roles in pursuit of a paycheck and avoiding the mundane trap of unsatisfying drudgery in the late ’90s and into the new millennium. The author presents his story as social science but it reads like a memoir, as much a list of the author’s grievances in his various professions as it is a chronicle of the professions themselves. While these criticisms are valid (the sheer amount of corporate culture’s incompetence assures that), the digressive, often lecturing tone invokes more sympathy for its targets than ire for their wrongdoing, undercutting much of the hopeful enthusiasm the book generates. Still, there are loads of great tips and lessons to be found here, from navigating office work and coworker dynamics to the importance of managing one’s time and the satisfaction inherent to income-based tasks in our society. It’s in the social-science department that the book comes up short, with too many of its conclusions based on a single person’s anecdotal evidence and no supplemental studies or other accounts that might solidify the conclusions as fact. The writing is straightforward in style, repetitive but engaging, and for a book told as nontraditionally as the work philosophy it espouses, it never loses its way, remaining entertaining throughout.
Memoir as social commentary, but far more of the former than the latter.