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Posts Tagged ‘secretary’

NTKOG #65: The kind of girl who, when she has been mistreated by someone in a position of authority, instead of just taking it with a smile, gives the jerkwad whatfor instead.

I am: laid-back, would be a nice way of putting it. A doormat, though, might be more accurate.

I am not: good with: confrontation, authority, or recognizing when people have definitely stepped over a line with me.

The Scene: Job interview in Brookline last week, for a secretarial position at a firm that deals in a field completely outside my range of interests. The interview has been set up by a temp agency, though, so I put on my power suit, brush up on my interview questions, and walk in fifteen minutes early with resume in hand and a big ol’ smile on my face.

Half an hour later, the guy who’s supposed to interview me finally moseys into the office and immediately I can tell he is — well, “a sleazy fucking jerkwad” is really too delicate a phrase, I think. He’s in his mid-50s; very GQ; too much cologne.When he takes my hand, there is no pretense of a shake. Instead, he squeezes hard enough to pulp the bones down to marrow, then takes a seat across from me.

“So, you’re from Prestigious West Coast University, eh?” he says, and I smile and nod. “And you’re looking for a secretarial position. Ha!” He looks like a guy who has too often and too wistfully watched Mad Men, wishing for the good old days when he could have conducted this interview while sipping from a tumbler full of Scotch.

While we are talking, he leans back in his leather exec chair and crosses his arms behind his head. One of his legs is crossed, his foot resting against the table. He looks like he’s waiting for a girl to crawl under the table and just start blowing him right there.

Did I mention he’s a huge fucking asshole?

The whole interview, he lets me say approximately twenty words. The rest of the time he goes on about how important he is and what high-level work he does. He mentions, charitably, that “the girls” are necessary to help run the office. He asks whether I feel up to the challenge of cleaning up the office at the end of the day.

The whole time, also, he keeps throwing out acidic little barbs about the university I went to, and the fact that I left there without a job, then smugging that he bets I don’t like it when he makes these little jokes. Uh, no shit? The school I went to was, like, pretty okay, and not infrequently, insecure people like to play a nasty little head game about it: they’ll make constant negative comments about various stereotypes about the school — not least of all the stereotype that grads are arrogant — then when I finally tell them to, dude, seriously, stop it, they smile back: “See what I mean? You guys are so arrogant.” I — I cannot tell you how much this infuriates me. I love the school I went to; I had four wonderful years there, met all my best friends there, and generally have positive feelings about it. And I’d expect everybody to feel the same way about their own undergraduate institutions, so why are we even talking about this?

And yet, he talked about it. For at least ten minutes of the forty-minute interview. After he’d finished his monologue of Important Manly Poweritude, he asked me: “So, you have any questions for me, honey?” Um, yeah, just one. How does the fine Commonwealth of Massachusetts feel about vigilante castration?

Sadly, though, although I prepared a totally appropriate feminist rant — or at least a withering barb — the asshole hurried me out of the interview room before I could find my voice. So. Fail on that front. But. BUT! I did call the temp agency and withdraw myself from the interview process, citing, in only slightly more polite language, irreconcilably assholic behavior as the reason for my request.

The Verdict: I’m pretty bummed out that my knee-jerk authority cowering was too strong for me to overcome right to this jerkwad’s (jerk)face, but I’m going to go ahead and give myself partial points for actually withdrawing from the interview process instead of continuing to jump through his asshole hoops. The more of the (sometimes terrible) real world I see, the more I realize that there are lots of guys like this out there, who feel the constant urge to make it known: “Hey, little lady, fuck your fancy education and your power suit and all your big clever ideas. At the end of the day, this is still a man’s world and, heads up, I take my coffee with two sugars, sugar.”

Aaaaaaargh. Even thinking about this makes me hate men. So even though I wimped out this time, next time I meet a guy who is Part Of The Problem, dude, he best be prepared for an unholy rant.

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NTKOG #30: The kind of girl who knows how to say “no” — even to a reasonable request. Sometimes it’s the little battles, guys.

I am: a world of yes. TKOG, can you pull an all-nighter rewriting my drecky essay even though you have your own deadlines? Can you wait for four hours in a freezing cold taqueria while I get to second-base with a random guy I met at a bar so you can give me a ride home afterwards? Won’t you please change your plane ticket so you can give me a ride home from the airport?!

I am not: going to confirm or deny whether those are true examples. (Sigh.)

The Scene: Copy room, corporate America, a state of severe emotional fragility.

So a little backstory: as you may or may not have gleaned from these pages, I have a fairly magnetic personality. I mean, literally magnetic. In my presence, credit cards are magically de-authorized, VHS tapes erased, computer hard drives spontaneously refragment, and office copy machines contract bulimia. Maybe you see where this is going.

This week I’ve been working on a project for Clerk (to whose moniker I will refrain, out of love for the company, from adding any of the particularly juicy adjectives that spring to mind). Of course, Clerk’s idea of allowing me to assist on an important project is emailing me documents so that I can send them to the printer behind his desk, pick them up, staple them, and hand them to him where he sits, ten feet away.

Funny thing about temping. When you come into an office as the new girl, all of the full-time employees look on you like a new puppy brought in for their amusement. Except for the old office puppy, who looks on you as a chew toy.

Last night, I printed and collated most of the documents he needed, but on the last document, the copier got caught in a paper jam the likes of which I — a professional secretary! — have never seen. I checked out its guts, forced it to belch up a stack of 17 sheets of paper, but still couldn’t fix it. One of the attorneys walked by and, seeing my dismay, lend her $200/hr brilliant legal mind to the problem. After $50 worth of her attentions, we gave it up and called the repairman.

This morning, attempting the same copies on the same (allegedly repaired) copier, again, after three pages, smoke start emerging. And hello again, Mr. Repairman!

Clerk started emailing me testy little missives. “When is repairman getting here? I require these documents URGENTLY!” Um, then why couldn’t you hit print yourself? I emailed to let him know the repairman had left and he was free to print the files his own dang self.

Apparently, though, my subtlety was lost on him, as he demanded again that I print it. Note to self: when saying ‘no’ to someone, it’s important that you actually say the word no.

Doormat that I am, I tried to print the documents again. The copier gnashed out a banshee wail, then some gutteral grinding, then stopped altogether. After a moment I wiped my eyes and stalked to Clerk’s desk.

TKOG: Look, I can’t print this for you. The copier has broken three times in 24 hours and I just. can’t. deal. with. it. Can you please print the documents yourself?
Choose Your Own Adjective Clerk: I suppose I can. It seems you’re doing something wrong.
TKOG: I — [deep breath] — I’m just hitting print. Maybe it hates me. That’s why you should do it yourself.
CYOAC: Fine. But will you have time to collate them when I’m done?
TKOG: Yes.

Damnit. How is it I can write arpeggios through the whole of the English language, but can’t say that one little word?

The Verdict: Even though this particular experience was a bit mixed, it’s a good reminder that I need serious “no!” practice. It did feel like a nice release to take this stupid issue off of my plate. But I’m always loath to say no out of the fear that people will think me lazy or stupid or inconsiderate. And yeah, I think finally saying no to jerkface Clerk definitely did cause him to think I was all of those things. Which is unpleasant.

Mixed result, I guess. I still feel terribly upset over the whole situation. So maybe the takeaway here is to be TKOG who just ignores jackasses.

[Edit: After I finally got out of my morning funk, Clerk came up to my desk and — miracle of all miracles! — thanked me for my work and offered to print the next batch of stuff on his own! All of a sudden I feel so … empowered and respected!]

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NTKOG #22: The kind of girl who, denied the level of service she feels she deserves, throws a full-on temper tantrum in a store.

I am: pretty easy to deal with. I get pissed if I’m being taken advantage of, sure, but I try to walk a mile in the other guy’s loafers, etc.

I am not: great about making my needs known.

The Scene: A Fed-Ex/Kinko’s in Brookline, logged into the computer to attempt to print invitations to an upcoming murder mystery cocktail party I’m hosting with Sister. We’ve configured the invitations properly and are attempting to print them double-sided, but for unclear reasons, the machine keeps spitting out unwanted and not-inexpensive single-sided copies! So I walk up to the counter and nicely but firmly request the employee’s attention.

Now, to preface, an important piece of information: I am a secretary. I am seriously, professionally, actually-kind-of-on-purpose a secretary. The value of this is two-fold. One: I can scan, collate, paper-cut and mail merge your friggin’ face off, all without taking my eyes off the coffee I’m making for you. And two, as maybe you can guess, I have a lot of sympathy for (other) people with crappy jobs. There is no greater friend of the proletariat than I, is what I’m saying.

No, seriously, I love my job. But I do smell like other people's coffee at the end of the day.

Maggie screwed it up for the rest of us by making secretarial work look so glamorous and un-demeaning.

So as I escort Chubby, Unpleasant Kinko’s Guy to my computer, I explain that we’ve set up the computer properly. As he sits down with Sister to look at the problem, he proceeds to bark out: “Did you set the computer to double-sided?!” Um. Yeah. He steals the mouse and reclicks all the options we’ve selected and hits print. Still single-sided.

CUKG: Well, I guess it isn’t working. You’ll have to print it single-sided.
TKOG: Okay, so can we get our money back for the copies we didn’t want?
CUKG: JESUS HOLD ON ONE SECOND, LADY, I’M GETTING TO THAT.

And so employee of the month stalks off into a back room to — I imagine — wave the magic Kinko’s wand to learn how to work with friggin’ Office Suite or, that failing, grab some refund paperwork. I wait, gently sauteeing in indignation, for four minutes for the situation to resolve, never taking my eyes off of the door. Eventually, we hear a toilet flush. Employee storms back out, without taking a second look at us.

After working a bit more on the invitations, Sister and I are ready to take off. On our way out, I push my way to the front of the store, and command the attention of Equally Incompetent But Nicer Employee.

TKOG: The computer wasn’t working properly. Can we please get a printing refund?
EIBNE [who has obviously been warned this was coming]: Sure, just hand me back the card.
TKOG: Is the gentleman who …helped us here? The one in the striped shirt?
EIGNE: He’s on break.
TKOG: Well, can you give me his name and the number of the corporate office? His behavior was entirely inappropriate and I think a manager needs to hear about it:
EIGNE: His name is Dave. Here’s a feedback form you can fill out and drop in a mailbox.
TKOG: Give me a number, please. I need to tell a person how rude he was!
EIGNE: Uh, dude, the number’s on there.

The Verdict: I maintained my huffy look until I had snatched the paper and turned my back, but threw it away on the walk home. I mean, Dave and I have a lot in common. We’re both in demeaning jobs without a lot of growth potential. The biggest difference between him and me is that I don’t take out my bad attitude on the people I come in contact with during the workday. And I’d like to keep it that way.

Plus, come on, no matter what we all think of each other, if there’s ever going to be a glorious friggin’ revolution, we secretaries and clerks and retail grunts all have to have each other’s backs, or else how in the world can the streets ever run with the blood of gutted bourgeois fatcats? Er. I mean. Woo capitalism!

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