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Ashley looks at the address she was given by ProTemps Temporary Services. She looks at the time on her cell phone and notices she is half an hour early. There weren’t any other cars in the parking lot. She sits in her car and enjoys the warmth still in her car.

The temperature outside was in the thirties. The wind was blowing slightly, making it seem like it was colder. She was bundled up in several layers of shirts and thermals under her clothes. The agent at the temp office informed her that she was going to be working in a warehouse and that there was heat in most of it.

After twenty minutes several cars show up and the occupants get out of the vehicle and rush towards the warehouse door. She waited until it was ten, till before Ashley got out of her car and rushed towards the door. She opens it and steps inside the building.

The warehouse was still dark, but she spotted some lights on and walked towards that direction. She passes racks and racks of broken-down cardboard boxes. They looked to be brand new and had the sizes of what they were labeled above them. She spots the person she saw running towards the warehouse earlier sitting at a desk with several screens on them. She walks over towards that person.

Mac was busy booting up all the computers and labeling machines when he noticed a young woman, he didn’t know walking towards his desk.
He could tell she was bundled up in several layers of clothes.

When she gets close to his desk “What can I do for you?”

“Hi, my name is Ashley Wolf and I was sent here by ProTemps. They didn’t tell me who I was supposed to report to.”

“Do you have a timesheet with you?” Mac knew he was supposed to get at least five workers from ProTemps today. They were short-handed and had a lot of orders to fill.

“Yes sir.” Ashley pulls out the timesheet she was given and hands it to Mac.

Mac accepts the timesheet and looks at the name already printed on it. He looks at the young woman and notices she has pure white hair and eyes the color of emerald green. He has never seen eyes so dark before.

“Do you have any warehouse experience?”

“No sir, but I’m a hard worker and good at following orders.” Ashley needed the work before she got kicked out of her apartment.

“I’m going to put you with Sasha in shipping. She’ll show you what you have to do. You get two fifteen-minute breaks and a half-n-hour lunch.
There’s a lunch room here on site and four refrigerators. Temps are to use the fourth refrigerator. Make sure your food is labeled. There’s also snack and soda machines if you get thirsty.”

“Okay, thank you.” Ashley didn’t bring lunch with her or have any money to buy snacks or even a soda for herself.

Mac gets up and escorts Ashley over to shipping. He spots Sasha and walks Ashley over to her.

“Hey Sasha, here is one of the temp workers I’m assigning to you. I’m supposed to be getting five in total today. I’m giving you two and the others are going to be assigned to Fred and Lucy.”

“Alright, I can use the help.” Sasha walks over towards Mac and the white hair young woman standing near him.

“Do you have any shipping experience?” Sasha noticed the woman was bundled up, which was good because it was cold in her section.

“No ma’am, but I’m willing to learn.” Ashley hated the fact that she had been bounced around on temp jobs. It was the only type of work she could get right now.

“Good, because I’m going to put you to work making boxes. Afterward, I’ll show you how to label the boxes for shipping and secure them to a pallet. Do you have any work gloves?”

“No ma’am.” Ashley wasn’t told what she needed.

“No worry, I’ll get you a pair. Now, let's get you busy making boxes. I have a big order that I need to ship out today.” Sasha escorts Ashley over to her desk and hands her a sheet of paper of what boxes she needs to pull.

Sasha shows Ashley how to assemble the boxes and how to tape them. She does a few first and then has Ashley do the rest afterward. She watches as Ashley puts the boxes together and taps them.

“Good, I need a hundred boxes by lunchtime. Do you think you can do that?”

“I’ll try.” Ashley had no idea how many she could get done.

“That’s good enough for me. Stack them right here and go about five high.” Sasha shows Ashley where to put the finished boxes.

“Yes ma’am.” Ashley grabs a few more boxes and starts putting them together.

Sasha sends Ashley on break at 10:15. Ashley learns that there is free coffee in the lunch room. She walks into the lunch room and fixes herself a cup. She was thankful for the warmth the coffee gave her. All they had for the free coffee was sugar and powder creamer.

After the break was over Ashley went back to work putting together more boxes. So far, she had forty boxes put together and stacked. She still needed sixty more boxes. The other person that was assigned to Sasha was building boxes as well but was faster than her.

At noon time, she was sent to lunch. Since she didn’t bring anything to eat with her. She sits in her car and runs the engine for a while to heat the car. She grabbed another cup of coffee and was enjoying it.

She would have stayed in the lunch room, but the smell of the food everyone was eating and heating up made her stomach growl. The only breakfast she had before she came to work, was a plain hot dog. She had enough food to get her through the week before she went to the food bank to get some more.

After lunch, she goes back to work. By the end of the day, she was three boxes short of her goal. She ran out of tape for her tape gun and the other person took the last five boxes she needed.

“See you tomorrow, Ashley.”

“Yes ma’am.”

The drive home was a mess. There was a four-car accident and she had to sit in traffic for over an hour. By the time she got home, she had to
pee. She almost peed her panties before she reached the door to her apartment.

Ashley strips out of all the clothes she wore to work and puts on a flannel nightgown. She grabbed a pair of thick socks to cover her sore and tired feet. She had the heat turned off because she couldn’t afford the electric bill. Luckily, she managed to pay half the bill and was getting assistance with the other half.

Ashley heats a pot of water on a propane camping stove. She didn’t want to use the stove or the refrigerator. She carried around a solar-powered flashlight. She doesn’t use the overhead lights at all. The only light coming into her apartment was through the windows in her bedroom and kitchen.

Ashley pours some of the hot water into an instant noodle container and let it cook. She grabs a tea bag from a collection of tea she bought at the dollar store and makes herself a hot cup of tea. She adds a packet of brown sugar to the tea.

Tears slide down her cheek as she thinks back to when she had a good-paying job and could afford to live like a normal person. The place she worked at had fired her because one of the security officers and IT person had accused her of stealing. When she tried to prove she didn’t, the company wouldn’t hear of it.

She later learned that her supervisor didn’t like the fact she was transgender. If he had fired her on those accounts, she could have fought it and won. So, he along with the IT person and the security officer that has been working for him for the last fifteen years, had framed her.

By saying and proving she stole company property, there was no way the company had to take her back. The old owner of the company liked her and knew about her secret. However, the new owner was one of those people who hated transgender people and the gay community.

So, now the only jobs she could get were temp jobs. Even the temp jobs she was given weren’t paying her enough and when she asked if she could switch from the labor department to the clerical department of the temp agency. She was told that most of the jobs that came in were only a day or so and she would be at the bottom of the list.

They would prefer if she stayed on the labor side where they needed people the most. So, she stayed and was sent to some of the worst jobs they got. One job had her down in a sludge pit where waste from around the city came in. She spent four days down there making only minimum wage and had to put up with the stench of the waste while shoveling it out.

Another job she was sent to was at a construction site and was given the task of picking up trash and construction materials around the site. It was hot as hell and she passed out from the heat. The last job before the one she had now, was cleaning out a house that the occupant had died in. The person had been a hoarder and the floor of the place had been bending under all the weight.

After Ashley finishes eating her instant noodles and drinking her tea. She pulls out her Fire tablet and uses her cell phone to connect to it. She uses the hotspot her phone has to access the internet. She mostly read some of the eBooks on the Kindle she already purchased.

When the battery starts running down on her Kindle and phone. Ashley turns her Kindle off and plugs the charging cable into it. She puts her phone in the charging cradle and falls asleep. She was tired from the day's work.

For the next three weeks, Ashley works her ass off. They moved her from shipping and packaging to picking. They gave her a list of items she needed to pick from the different bins and put them in the shipping box. She made sure to double-check everything on her list when she pulled it.

The other person who had worked with her in the packaging department had been given a position as Sasha’s assistant. He was fast and good at the job.

She was moved to picking when one of the other temp workers that had been sent said hell with it and quit the job. They hated all the climbing and moving things around to get to the product. So, she was given their position. She didn’t mind because she was small and getting into some of the packed bins was easier on her. Plus, she could climb the shelves the bins were on without any problems.

The picking manager was thinking about training her how to operate the scissor lifts. So, far they have been too busy for that to happen. Her pay only went up a few dollars.

She has been able to afford to bring some lunch to work. Instead of shopping at Walmart or Food Lion for groceries. Ashley’s been going to Dollar Tree to buy instant meals. She found a box of MREs at an Amry and Navy surplus store and bought the box for a hundred and thirty-five dollars.

The meals weren’t the best tasting, but it was better than eating hot dogs, canned spaghetti, and instant noodles all the time. Plus, it came with its heating packets. She just had to add water to the packet and cook her meal in it. She could also take a packet to work for lunch.

The company she was working for was going to throw a Thanksgiving lunch for everyone. The company had done so well with all the extra help, that the management was going to cater a meal for everyone. Ashley was excited because she would have a decent meal for once.

Ashley helps to set up everything in the lunch room for the meal. The person she worked under in the picking department recommended her. Plus, they only had a few orders to pull and that wouldn’t take a lot of time.

Ashley had gotten a discount on some of the clothes the company was discontinuing. They had several brands they made and since they were going to introduce several new brands. She asked if she could buy some of the leftover clothes they had. Normally, the company donated the clothes to charity.

Ashley managed to buy several outfits, t-shirts, four sweat jackets, and two coats for twenty dollars. She needed the extra clothes because some of the clothes she owned had developed tears in them or were just worn out from all the climbing she had to do.

During the Thanksgiving holiday, she was given four days off. It was without pay, but she counted on that and saved a large amount of her pay. Since she didn’t have to work, she had been invited to the local gay bar by a friend of hers.

Ashley wasn’t looking for anyone when she showed up to see her friend perform. Her friend’s name was Willow Brandy, but her stage name was Peppermint Patty. Ashley couldn’t believe how outrageous her friend dressed up.

The term flaming took on a whole new meaning with Willow. Willow was only a few inches taller than Ashley and was thin as well. However, Willow loved wearing huge false breasts forms. She had no idea how Willow managed to dance with breasts that took up the front of her chest. Plus, the way Willow dressed when she was performing, was pushing the limits on pornographic.

Ashley had a hard time being around Willow when she was so outraged. The thing was a lot of the gay and straight men that hung around the bar liked her. Willow was known to give some of the men who came into the club a blow job in the bathroom or out in the parking lot.

Since Ashley had four days off from work and the gay bar was having a breakfast buffet. She takes advantage of it and shows up. She could hear her friend Willow having some fun with four guys.

Ashley pays the eight dollars for the breakfast buffet and fixes a huge plate. She was starved and was planning on stuffing herself as much as possible. After getting what she wanted on her initial trip, Ashley spots a table no one was sitting at and walks over to it.

Once she was seated, Ashley enjoyed her breakfast. It was still cold outside, but she was wearing her new jacket that she bought. Her supervisor had given her a gift certificate to buy whatever clothes she wanted at some of their outlets. Her supervisor had informed her that her hard work hadn’t gone unnoticed and that she would be hired on permanently soon.

While Ashley is enjoying her breakfast, she spots Gail walking towards her table. She hasn’t seen Gail in a long time.

“Hey stranger, long time no see. Where have you been hiding yourself?” Gail was surprised to see Ashley at the club.

Ashley swallows the piece of sausage link she was eating before speaking “working my butt off. I haven’t had any free time to do anything else. How about you? Are you still dating Bob White?”

“Yeah, he’s my sugar daddy. He’s out of town right now on business. Do you mind if I join you?”

“Please.” Ashley motions to the seat across from her.

“Thanks.” Gail sits down and waves over a waiter.

She orders a white Russian cocktail. After placing her order, Gail turns her attention back to Ashley. “Are you working?”

“Yeah, I have a temp job at Pink Label Clothing. They make custom causal wear for women.” Ashley liked working for them.

“Wow! I’ve heard about their stuff. They have a bunch of outlets in the malls and a huge online following.” Gail knew their custom t-shirts, booty shorts, shoes, jackets, and other clothing were very popular with teenagers and college-age women.

“Is that jacket and shirt you’re wearing from them?” Gail spotted the jacket hanging on the back of Ashley’s chair and the t-shirt she was wearing.

“Yeah, it was last season’s clothing line. I managed to grab them for a steal.”

“Man, you’ll have to hook me up. So, what else are you up to, these days? Are you seeing anyone?” Gail knew at one time Ashley had a boyfriend.

“No, I’m single again. Richard left me for a woman he works with. I’ve only met her twice before, but she’s got a lot going for her.” Ashley knew Richard had a particular type of woman he was interested in.

The woman he was dating now, was as kinky as he was. There were things he enjoyed, that she didn’t. Plus, she knew she didn’t fit the type of woman he liked. He liked women with curves and big tits, that dressed kind of slutty.

She was short and didn’t have much up top right now. Plus, she still had a youthful look about her whereas the women he liked looked like models. She was lucky enough that when she was younger, people mistook her for being a girl. Even as she got older, she could still pass as a girl, even without wearing makeup.

“Well, I know you’ll meet someone.” Gail knew Ashley was pretty and would meet someone.

“I’m not going to bother until, I’m finical secure. I still got thirty more days to go before the temp company can hire me, full-time.” Ashley checked into how long she had left on his assignment with the temp agency.

Ashley and Gail talk for a while. Gail has three more white Russians drinks and leaves after a while. Ashley makes two more trips to the buffet and fills up on breakfast. After she was full, she bundled up in her coat and went for a walk. The gay club was on the edge of town.

She walks down the streets looking at the window displays. She wanted to do some shopping, for Christmas gifts, but she wanted to save the money she was making. Just in case she didn’t get hired by the client.

Ashley stops at the comic book store and waves to Steward as she walks into the place. Unlike some other comic book stores, she has been to. Steward kept his shop nice and organized. He also did custom artwork for people.

Steward was putting out some new merchandise when he spotted Ashley looking around. He hasn’t seen her in months, not since she sold him her collection of old Marvel and DC comics. He knew she loved her collection, but he also heard she had lost her job and was needing money.

“Hey, Ashley. Long time, no see.”

Ashley turns around when she hears Steward’s voice. She puts the new Green Lantern comic she was examining back on the shelf. She walks over to where Steward is standing.

“Hey, Steward. I see you got in several new titles.” Ashley loved comic books and wished she didn’t have to sell some of her collection.

She still had half of her collection, that Steward didn’t buy or that she didn’t manage to sell online. She had a few collector items she sold as well.

“Yeah, I got a big shipment in today. So, how are things going for you?” Steward knew Ashley was having money problems.

“I’m getting by. I got a new temp job and I’m slowly getting back on my feet.” Ashley brushes an unruly lock of hair out of her eyes.

“Well, I still have a few of the comics you sold me in the case if you want them back.” Steward knew how Ashley felt when she sold her collection.

“Thanks, but I’m going to hold off buying my collection back. Maybe after Christmas, once I know if I’m still working.” Ashley hoped some of her favorite comics were still available.

“Okay, I’ll sell them back to you for a slight markup.” Steward had to make some money on them.

Ashley sighed because she was hoping to just do an even trade back. She looks at him “I understand.”

Ashley turns and leaves the comic book store and starts walking back home. She might consider going to the club for their Thanksgiving dinner. She originally planned on just having a TV dinner for Thanksgiving.

Ashley makes it home and removes her jacket and shoes. She changes out of the clothes she was wearing, and into some warm sweatpants and a heavy shirt. She was still keeping her electric bill as low as possible.

The only thing she had done was fill out what her next-door neighbor’s wireless internet password was. It was by accident that she found it. She knew her neighbor wouldn’t mind her using it. It wasn’t like she was playing any games or paying her bills using it.

Ashley watches a few YouTube videos, before grabbing her Kindle and start reading a new eBook she bought. She lies on the floor in her living room and watches as the sun goes down. Ashley hopes she gets hired full-time.

Thanksgiving comes and goes. Ashley spent Thanksgiving up at the club and enjoyed the Thanksgiving dinner buffet they hosted. On the first of December, Ashley returned to work and was busy pulling orders that came in during the Thanksgiving holidays.

Ashley was given the okay to come in on the weekend to get everything caught up. She took full advantage of the opportunity because it would give her overtime hours. She manages to get all the backup orders completed and packaged to be shipped.

The next weekend, as is pulling orders. One of the forklift drivers putting away a pallet, accidently hit an overhead pipe. The pipe supplied water to the sprinkler system. He causes the pipe to break and the cold water inside of the pipe burst forth like a waterfall.

Ashley was underneath the area where the pipe burst. She is soaked through her clothes when the cold water comes squirting down. All the boxes stacked above her did little to protect her from the force of the water.

Clothes started to fall onto her, as she lost her footing. She couldn’t get out from under all the wet clothing, burying her. She feels a set of arms grabbing her and pulling her out from under the waterfall and wet clothing.

She couldn’t see who it was that held her, as she was carried away from the mess. Blood was flowing down into her eyes from where she hit her head on one of the metal supports.

“Ashley, are you okay?” Alex had spotted Ashley under the rack picking an order when the overhead pipe burst.

When the clothes on the third and second level started to fall through the gaps of the level. Alex lost track of Ashley was buried under the waterfall and wet clothes. He managed to dig through the wet clothes to grab her and pulled her out from the wet pile.

He noticed that she was bleeding from a gash on the front of her head. Blood was pouring down into her face, from the gash into her eyes. He grabs a nearby wet t-shirt tears it into strips and bandages her head.

Ashley was trying to look at Alex as he tended to her head, but her eyesight was blurry. She wipes the blood from her eyes and shivers from being soaked and cold. She passes out as she falls forward against Alex.

“Someone, call the paramedics. Ashley has passed out.” Alex supports Ashley’s unconscious body.

Ashley woke up hours later with her head hurting and hooked up to a vitals monitor. She had an IV going into her hand and was covered by a blanket and sheet. She slowly moves her head as she tries to figure out how she got to the hospital.

There was a vase of flowers sitting next to her bed, with several metallic balloons floating above it. Ashley lifts her hand and touches the bandage covering her head. The last thing she remembered was being rescued from under a bunch of wet clothes.

Ashley wonders what happened after Alex wrapped her head. She tries sitting up in her bed, but when she moves her head, she feels nauseous. She stops and lays back against her pillow. After a few minutes, she falls asleep again.

Ashley is woken up in the morning by the nurse checking her vitals. She opens her eyes, which focus a little better. She still had a little trouble seeing clearly.

Nurse Bigelow noticed that her patient was awake. A smile forms on her face “Good morning, Ms. Wolf. How are you feeling this morning?”

“I’m feeling a little nauseous and my vision is blurry.” Ashley could see Nurse Bigelow when she was close to her.

“Hhmm, let me make a note of that and inform your doctor. Are you feeling any pain in your head?”

“Just a little bit. What was done to me?” Ashley looks at Nurse Bigelow for an answer.

“Well, you had to get fifteen stitches to close up the gash you had. Does anyone in your family suffer from being anemic?”

“Not that I’m aware of.” Ashley didn’t know if anyone in her family suffered from being anemic.

“Well, you are anemic. Your doctor will let you know more when he comes in to examine you.” Nurse Bigelow knew Doctor McCarty would want to talk to Ms. Wolf about her condition.

“Who is my doctor?” Ashley was curious about who her doctor was.

“Doctor McCarty is the doctor assigned to you. She’ll be by later this morning to check up on you.”

“Thank you, Ms. Bigelow.” Ashley saw Nurse Bigelow’s name tag.

“You’re welcome. I’ll have some breakfast sent up to you.” A smile appears on Nurse Bigelow’s face before she leaves.

The next few days, Ashley is visited by some of her friends. An agent from the temp agency visits Ashley. The agent informs Ashley that they will be covering her hospital stay since she was injured while employed by them.

The hiring manager from Pink Incorporated visits Ashley and informs her that she has been hired full-time. When she is ready to come back to work, she’ll need to fill out some paperwork. While she is out on medical leave, the temp agency will cover her lost wages.

After a week and a half. Ashley is cleared by her doctor to return to work. The stitches that they used to seal the gash, were the self-dissolving type. She had to be careful when she washed her head.

On Ashley’s first day back to work, she went to see Mary Jenkins in HR to fill out the paperwork she needed to and to get her discount card. Her pay had gone up by six dollars, so now she was making thirteen dollars instead of a minimal wage.

Around Christmas time, the orders start to pick up bought from their vendors and online orders. Anyone who wanted overtime was allowed to work as many hours as they wanted to. Ashley was putting in twelve-hour days, seven days a week. She was saving every penny she earned.

Ashley buys back what comic books Steward didn’t sell of hers. She paid him a quarter over what she got from him. She also goes online and buys the missing comics Steward sold to complete her collection.

Since Christmas and Christmas Eve fell on a weekend. The Pink warehouse was going to be closed down for four days. Since she is working for the company now, she will be getting holiday pay.

Now, that Ashley was making more money, she started using the stove again and using the lights. She keeps her refrigerator and pantry stocked with food. She does watch how much money she spends. She buys a bed for her bedroom, instead of sleeping on the floor. She finds a nice sofa and two matching recliners at a consignment store. She pays some guys from the consignment store to deliver the furniture.

For New Year's, Ashley spends it at the gay bar with her friends. She watches how much she drinks, so she doesn’t get too wasted. She watches as some guys launch some fireworks. As Ashley watches the fireworks explode, she is hopeful that the new year will be good to her.

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Oh boy do I know the "watch

Brooke Erickson's picture

Oh boy do I know the "watch what you spend" and "keep food stocked" bit.

Brooke brooke at shadowgard dot com
Girls will be boys, and boys will be girls
It's a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world
"Lola", the Kinks

I like Ashley

I'm on the same budget right now that she is on, except it's bologna instead of hot dogs. Being a seasonal favorite, hot dogs are higher right now. I've a lot of similarities to her. Had a job that had a lot of box making, except a hundred boxes should only take a couple of hours. We also used a lot of Temps. But if they showed a bit of hustle full time was easy to get.

I think Ashley would be a good person to know, and a great friend to have.

"Life is not measured by the breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away.”
George Carlin