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Friday, July 10, 2009

I Have A Block of Availability in October…

As it widely known and discussed by, oh, no one really, I’ve been an executive assistant for the last 300 to 400 years. It’s a rough life, wrangling execs, pinning metaphorical mittens to little corporate winter jackets, but the rewards are semi-adequate in terms of both job satisfaction and financial compensation.

Of course, there used to be more perks, such as they were, both known and unknown by management. Summer picnics, holiday parties, fifteen minutes extra stolen for lunch so I can hit the sales, dubious requests to leave an hour early for “dentist appointments”…

Oh, I thought I was so clever.

Those were the days. It’s all changed, of course. While I don’t think my nipping an $8 sandwich from a meeting’s leftovers or arriving late in the morning because “the raccoons were in my garbage again” had anything to do with the current economic crisis, being thankful for even having a job for has been a long time coming for many of us.

If we are terribly loose with the word, being an executive admin could be considered a “reasonable” use of your head. Of course, if you’re both loose with the word and perhaps sniffing spray paint from a rag in your back yard, it could even be considering “interesting”. Get yourself the right boss and the days are never the same.

Of all the things I do, though, it’s the calendars that cause me the most trouble.

I think I was 19 when I set up my first 3:00 a.m. meeting. Ha, ha, the rookie doesn’t know the difference between afternoon and the middle of the night. Oh, there was laughter and offers of “advanced clock theory”, but I didn’t have a sense of humor about such things. I was mortified. I took my branes very seriously at that time and vowed that it would not happen again.

And it didn’t, not because I’m just so gosh-darned good at learning from my mistakes but because there were just so many more mistakes to make.

Why repeat your mistakes when you can make new mistakes?

Meetings in France in August? Forget about it – everyone’s en vacance.

How about meetings in China in the fall? Have you forgotten the Moon festival?

How about the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve?

Fridays in the summer?

People ask me what I do at work. There you have it – I spend a lot of time looking for availability for people from around the world to meet.

(And I take an extra 15 minutes for lunch and wander through Macy’s.)


Not The Rockefellers said...

You are like e-harmony but without all that dating.

Pearl maybe you should fashion yourself a jaunty little corporate pimp hat. :)

I think that would rock.

I think Liza Bean should be your logo on said hat.

Peace - Rene

♥ Braja said...

She said Liza Bean, she did....

Beth said...

Calendars have numbers on them. And numbers are hard.

Not Always About Monkeys said...

As a fellow executive assistant (about to take a part time job and work for one of us - I'm going to be an assistant's assistant while I'm in grad school) I have similar calendar horror stories, but none so bad as a former coworkers. Instead of sending her boss to an office in DC at 5:00 PM on a Wednesday, he ended up at the White House at 8:00 AM. Now, the fact that he wasn't paying enough attention to abort mission halfway through says a lot about the executive world too, but damn.

powdergirl said...

All this talk of 'mitten pinning' is triggering my chronic glove-wearing-disorder.
Could I have mine strung through the sleeves of my jacket instead? You know like Mom used to do till I had kids of my own?
Yeah, I huffed spray-paint for breakfast again.
What? You didn't?

ellen abbott said...

It's amazing how many mistakes there are to be made isn't it. I'm still finding new ones all the time.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

Here's what I do at work:

Slap stuff in a jar. Stir it and/or heat (if necessary for the latter).

Pretend to work for the rest of the day.

Madame DeFarge said...

Well, I'm available most of next week from Tuesday afternoon onwards, if that helps at all. I like to be helpful.

darsden said...

here :-)

The Jules said...

I'll pencil you in, but I'm looking chocka for most Thurdays till September.

I'm very important you know.

3 gold stars on my badge now.

Douglas said...

Mittens? Mittens? I have no mittens anymore... just golf gloves... on one hand (like that late MJ).

Jeanne said...

Thought of you this morning when I took the BUS to work for the first time in, oh, 30 years, give or take. I don't know about MPLS, but buses in Dayton are kind of scary. Followed your lead and listened to my iPod.

Thank God my car is fixed now!

The Retired One said...

I hear you. My last CEO was a NUT case and had more meetings than anyone on the planet. He insisted that his Exec. Assist. called all 30+ Managers and set up a "convenient time" for the meetings for everyone to make a "mandatory meeting" (all of his were mandatory). It was impossible to do, but he never understood and was either always pissed off at his E.A. or at the Managers that didn't come. What an ass.
And the meetings?
Just an opportunity for him to pontificate and show us how much more intelligent he was (not) than the rest of the Managers.

Domestic Goddess said...

As a recovering Admin Assistant, your post rekindled memories of my own bitter sweet career. I loved the job, but unfortunately I had a short tolerance for incompetent corporate clowns. Most of them were ol' school and didn't know which button to push to turn on their computer. Each night I went home exhausted from thinking for 2. How did they get through college anyway?

Joanna Jenkins said...

When I was in the corporate world (800 years ago) I had a "Granny" of an assistant who was AMAZNG (and I was a little afraid of her :-) I would never have survived as long as I did without her. Admins deserve double their weight in gold. I hope your bosses appreciate you :-)
Have a great weekend. xo

Anonymous said...

For a few years I was the secretary to the operating room staff at our local hospital. It was my job to detail the Doctor's and Nurse's families while they were in the OR's.

I can't tell you how many times I was asked to yell at their children on the phone...'Stop hitting your brother, do your homework and clean your room before your mom gets home!'


When the staff finally came out of the room I delivered form messages..."Your son/daughter made it safely off the bus, the cable guy called and moved it to tomorrow between 7 am and 5 pm, Don't forget dinner is at the in laws tonight...(Don't worry...I told them you were dead...), Your dog got out and pooped in the neighbor's driveway...remember to clean it up!"

Yeah, I miss that job sometimes...

LPC said...

I was at a Moon Festival in China. Shanghai. A new mall, in a new suburb, in a new world. There were Brazilian transvestites dancing, and then local kids playing reggae. Drugs are no longer necessary.

Kavi said...

I guess each job has its quirks. But any that provides for a 15 min swipe at the corner store sale is well..noteworthy !

Pop and Ice said...

I was an Administrative Assistant for 16 years before moving into the IT arena. It was certainly more profitable, but now that I've been ousted out in this lousy economy I can't even get an interview for Admin position! I am ready to pull my hair out because I was such a good Admin, even though many years ago. And I was serious, no-nonsense, efficient admin that everyone tried to lure away to their department. Now nobody even wants to meet me! Waaaa!

I have an interview tomorrow to be an "Office Manager" doing bookeeping (uh, last time I did that was more than 25 years ago), payroll (have never done!) and be in charge of the office (one other person who probably knows more than me) and this guy is going to hire me on the strength of my good friend's recommendation?! Holy God, what am I doing?!

Ugich Konitari said...

Pearl,In all those guys apologizing for no meetings in moon festivals, french vacations, etc, there is, hopefully one plan coming along where you are likely to be outstandingly on the dot.

Dec-Jan is wonderful in India. No snow where you go. In fact Mumbai then is like your cool summer. Is your plan still on ?

Warty Mammal said...

I do not envy you your job one bit. In my experience, executive assistants are expected to be:

- Stunningly attractive and well-groomed
- Frighteningly efficient and well organized
- Personable and skilled at diplomacy

To top it off, they also tend to work for very demanding individuals. Not exactly my idea of a picnic!