Acme gives all of its employees a turkey at this time of year. Acme employs a lot of temporary workers–which is to say, Acme does not employ them, they are employed by the agencies, so they do not get turkeys. Acme does employ a number of high school co-ops; since they are Acme employees, they get turkeys. Many of the temps work for a much longer period of time than the co-ops, to say nothing of more hours a week; but the co-ops are employees of Acme and the temps are not.

There are also two college co-ops interning from a nationally respected college. They are employed through the temp agency, and do not get turkeys.

One of those co-ops has been given a role as a planner, and has been fully effective in that role–more effective than perhaps one or two of the salaried planners. This co-op happened to be standing by my desk when the announcement came over the intercom that employees must claim their turkeys in the next ten minutes, as the remainder would be sent to the Food Pantry.

“I don’t understand why I can’t have a turkey,” she said.

“Oh, you can have a turkey,” I assured. “Just go down there and ask for one. Any of the managers you have worked for will gladly give you a turkey.” But she was very unsure, so I went down with her.

“You already got a ten dollar gift card from the temp agency,” objected one of the HR associates.

“You have plenty of turkeys left,” I countered. The other managers standing around were talking amongs themselves and not paying any attention. The co-op got a turkey. But she felt guilty and embarassed, as though she were theiving it. We happened upon the plant manager as we walked back. “Tell her she deserves a turkey,” I said, and he did.

The next day, the HR Manager came to my desk and explained that, for legal reasons, we have to keep a clear distinction between our employees and the employees of the temp agencies.