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07/29/2011

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Paul Mullin

Even before I posted this, folks already started to send me their recollections via Face Book. I will be re-posting some of them here, since FB is such a notoriously poor archive.

First, from Andrea Allen, Director of Education at Seattle Repertory Theatre

"I do believe I got my last temp gig from them: at the Swedish Pain Clinic. I remember when I first went to them, John Moe was the person I talked with about my mad-keyboard-skills."

Paul Mullin

From Ian C. Gerrard:

"Actually, I do have a story. For years I occasionally put on my resume a job they sent me out on. For one Saturday afternoon I was a crash test dummy at a children's safety fair at University Village. Myself and one other guy wore jumpsuits and plastic heads and walked around together miming putting on our seat belts. (We weren't allowed to talk because we didn't have the same voices as the crash test dummies in the commercials in those days. It was hot, but I felt worse for the guy in the Smokey the Bear costume."

Richelle Dickerson

Hey Andrea, John Moe never worked in the office at Woods, he was our evil enemy at Parker Personnel (now Parker Services). You did work through us as well, however!

Paul Mullin

Thanks for the correction, Richelle. There are a lot years between now and some of these memories.

This from Lisa Viertel, star of Annex Theatre's ongoing late night comedy series, PENGUINS:

ME!!!!! They were awesome to me. Got me a gig while I was still i nthe middle of my interview. Kept me working. Sent me birthday cards for like 5 years after my last gig with them went permanent. Have been here almost 7 yrs thanks to those guys.

Adrian Cameron

i've had so many gigs from woods that ranged from law firms to ad agencies to health care to non-profits to my own stints of meta-temping. they're a crack team of extraordinary individuals and i'll miss my weekly interactions with all of them.

i remember once racing thru some particularly syrupy downtown traffic on a friday (paid on a friday!!) to pick up my check which was uncomfortably essential to correcting my finances that very afternoon and realizing how i wouldn't make it. by the time i made my straggling way to the galland, well after woods' (extended on friday!!) closing time i knew i was sunk. but there in the building lobby stood the inimitable bruce saladin waiting around (no less, on a friday!!) for my punk ass to show up and get paid. he slipped me my check with his effortless charm and sauntered off to engage in whatever mysterious, delightful activities as please him. my heart was full to rupturing (aided surely by my sprint across the street to the chase bank overlords).

they're all exactly like this and i wish them all a ton of luck though not a single one will need it.

Paul Mullin

Great story, Adrian. Woods always went out of their way to pay the folks on the Friday of the week they worked, even when the temp didn't seem that interested in getting paid. One of my jobs was to call people who hadn't called in their hours on time. More often than not they acted bent out of shape, saying something like "I was busy." I had to bite my tongue because I knew Sam and Sarah wouldn't approve, but what I wanted to say was, "You're too busy to get paid? Wow. I hope I'm never that busy. Or too busy to thank a company that pays you even when you give no indication that that's what you want.

Okay. Rant over. And now this, from the fabulous actor Jim Lapan, who tore up the title role of my adaptation of GRENDEL:

"I worked for them like 15 years ago. This past Spring Alyson interviewed with them. She mentioned my name, and without hesitation the interviewer asked if I was still acting."

Paul Mullin

This from Leslie Law, fabulous actor and singer, and now producer of the Sandbox Radio Live (see previous Just Wrought post):

Leslie Law
One time I had a short gig with this personal injury lawyer in private practice; one of his "clients" was verbally abusive to me on the phone, cursing and yelling, and when I didn't handle the call to the attorney's satisfaction, he blew up and fired me and told me to leave. Then he calmed down and said I should stay. I said I needed to take a little break, and as I stood out in the hall, stunned and a bit shaken up, not knowing what to do, I called Sam. He was so kind, asked me if I felt I wanted to finish the day, and if so, he would meet me at Woods after. So I sat there with Sam later, feeling completely violated by this jerk - I was just a temp, for god's sake, and had never been fired from anything - being comforted and taken care of. He said none of their temps should ever be mistreated, and if I didn't want to go back the next day, I didn't have to. I chose to finish the gig, and have always looked back on that incident and how Sam handled it as one of the primary reasons Woods was like no other agency. We will miss you guys!

Bill Salyers

My first-ever paid vacation came from Woods. They were wonderful that way; if you put in enough time, they would give you a paycheck to take a week off.
That space and time at the Galland Building was a nexus for some of the most extraordinary people I have ever known. I'm sorry to see it go, and glad to have a chance to remember it so fondly.

Paul Mullin

Thanks, Billy!

This from Sanjaya Krishna, whom I met at Midcom along with my wife and about 50 other fabulous people I still call friends:

"They were the first temp agency that both Jesse and I registered with upon our arrival in Seattle in 1991. Really nice people. I was "employed" by them for nearly 17 months. And of course they placed me at our favorite switchless reseller. I wonder how many other MIDCOM folks were originally Woods temps."

Marya Granger-O'Neil

I, too, worked at No. Life before I went perm at Woods in 1991. I worked for a supervisor that I was always in hot water with for either having my skirt too short (4" above my knee), or cheating on my timesheet because I wrote 7.75 and there are only 60 minutes in an hour...it took me a minute to figure out what she meant, too...I told her she should report me to HR. Sarah and I had a nice laugh over it.

Joel Summerlin

My longest placement through Woods was (as it was for many) at Perkins-Coie -- and most of that time I worked in the Galland Building, so it was especially easy to swing by for the paycheck on Fridays.

I'm not sure I appreciated it enough at the time, but I have certainly not encountered a more supportive, understanding, encouraging, and, it must be said, forgiving work environment since then.

I remember once calling in after my first day at a particularly Kafkaesque placement, to say I wasn't sure if I could do it. (I think it may have been at "No-Life", sorting pieces of paper by a four-digit number that was buried within a much longer number, or so I remember it.) I'm not sure whom I spoke to -- Sarah perhaps? -- but whoever it was asked if I wanted to continue while they looked for another placement, and suggested that maybe I could listen to books on tape.

I stayed, and listened to George Orwell's 'Down and Out in Paris and London', which made me feel much better.

Joel Summerlin

Another temping memory: practicing songs or dances or monologues while riding the elevators at WaMu, whenever I happened to ride by myself. God, I hope they didn't have cameras in those things.

Paul Mullin

Awesome Joel. Thanks for these.

Hey Marya, that woman's name wasn't Sandra, perhaps, was it?

Ho-Kwan Tse

I never worked at Woods and have only been in Seattle once - well actually, it was a flyby. After reading the article and the comments, my heart strings were tugged by the support and love this company has provided to all the wonderful talents out there. I am bummed that this place is closing down - it seems like a great survival gig for artists!

Ian Gerrard

Then there was the time Will called me when I was on the east coast at college and about to come home for the summer. It wasn't really too early for the phone to ring, unless you were a college student with no morning classes who may or may not have been drinking until 3 am that morning. At any rate, I did my best to sound awake and/or sober and asked Will what was up. "Can you drive a forklift?" he asked. I told him I couldn't, but was willing to learn. I didn't get that job, but something else came through for the summer.

Scott Plusquellec

I too started at No Life, down in the basement where there were no windows and you saw no sunlight during the winter if you didn't get out at lunch. I was let go when the president saw my long hair, but Sarah and Sam never asked me to cut it off, just got me a better gig. And one time, during tech at Annex, the client complained that I was falling asleep at the desk and Sarah just said, poor guy is doing a show, must be exhausted. They were always there for me, even after 6 years away, I called from the highway coming back from LA, broke and desperate for a job, and they had one for me the day I arrived back. They are family! Plus I still get birthday cards!I am so sad they are closing up, but best wishes to all!

Sanjaya Krishna

Thanks Paul, for bringing this up. The more I've been thinking about Woods and reading these posts, the more I think that they were one of the few who truly understood the types of gaijin that were moving to Seattle. They knew a lot of these folk had showed up due to Seattle's growing popularity as a seemingly new (thought not) and crazily creative place. Many of these folks could do actually do an efficient and fast job at some of the more administrative stuff that Woods MADE available at an acceptable wage. Woods seemed to have the right touch to resonate with these folks. The fact they had the same easy rapport with the employers was even better. Hadn't thought about them in a long time and the memories turn out to be pretty fond.

Mary Granger

I got a terrific job through Woods when I was 58 years old! And I'm still working at Hillis Clark Martin & Peterson, the best law office in which to work.
By the by ... What happened to the top of the Galland Building in this photo? Was it photoshopped out for some reason? There's a terrific deck up there where HCMPers can go to have lunch and we have regular deck parties.

Alex Moreno

I just heard over dinner last night that Woods had wound down their operations in the last year. I did a search and found this page. For years I worked for a competing staffing service, one that I think treated people pretty well. But I'd also heard good things about Woods for many years, and had some friends who'd worked for them.

After my partner and I left Seattle for a year to live in South Africa for a year - for his job - I couldn't work while we were there - I knew that when we returned to Seattle I wanted to give Woods a try, primarily to try getting placed with an employer I knew they worked with, the Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center. They did send me a on one short one-day job, did well on that, and within a couple of weeks an opportunity did come up at the Hutch that Richelle gave me a shot at. Within a couple of months, the Hutch offered me a regular gig, and four and a half years later I'm still there.

Registering with Woods was a great experience, and I could tell they truly cared for and enjoyed the people they put to work. I'm a little sad to hear this, of course, but if Sarah and Sam felt it was maybe time to retire or take a break - well hell, they've earned it, in my book. I wish them the best. Woods has touched a lot of lives over the years.

Katherine Woolverton

If I recall correctly (I worked for a couple temp agencies) I was registered with Woods when they called me on a temp gig that was just too far below my level and would have locked me in to a contract so long that it would really impede my getting more appropriate work, which was already on the horizon. They wanted me to have the option and I appreciated that. I turned it down and the state promptly stopped my unemployment. I fought it and Sam went to bat for me, telling the state dude that he agreed with my decision and I certainly had the right to make it. Got my unemployment retroactively reinstated. I wasn't just a disposable person to them. So sorry to see Woods close.

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