© 2011 Timmy Tamisiea. All rights reserved. image8.png

66/365 – 5 Annoying Desk Jockey Behaviors

I wouldn’t consider my T.A. job at the illustrious Columbia College Screen Writing Center an office job.  I’m more like a glorified librarian who also makes copies and holds student IDs and shuts off lights and watches Hulu.  You know, a T.A.  I also handle really simple tech problems – like when  a teacher is confused about how to open the new Apple Macbook Pros.  “There’s no button.”

Seriously. Apple removed that button on teh front so people with Masters and PhDs could fumble around like primates trying to open them.

Listen, I sit at a desk for 6-8 hours, which technically makes it an “office job.”  The thing is, it lacks all the particular torture devises that usually come standard with an office job.  Especially that special circle of hell I once occupied called the administrative assistant.  I wouldn’t wish that slow death on anyone.  Film school was my release from that prison sentence.  Working in corporate America is awful.  More awful than working in corporate America is working in corporate America on the low end of a totem pole.  A totem pole made of pure crap.   It’s called being and Administrative Assistant.

No, I’m not the guy on the bottom. That’s the Office Manager. I’m the square platform.

Assistant jobs are a special type of hell that should be reserved for hardened criminals – you can’t talk back, there’s no creative or logical freedom, you’re nothing and you have to remember that.  All you can really do is be silent, listen, obey and, most important, observe how helpless, backwards and stupid some business people can be.  As a office temp and, later, as a 5 year admin assistant, I learned that business people sometimes lack basic common skills.  The further up the food chain you go, it gets worse.  I think executives might just be the most stupid, lazy people in existence.  Again, that;s a sweeping generalization, but there’s some personal experience that justifies that statement.

There are times I thought that all execs do is travel and make phone calls while the real work is done by their underlings.  And they get all the praise.  To be fair, I have a lot of friends in the business world and they are fantastic people, great leaders and very intelligent human beings.  But there are quite a few that I’ve had the displeasure of working with that take the cake.

Especially this desk jocky who always took the cake. And the cookies. And the gigantic chocolate bars. Hard to order in lunch when she's always taking it.

Sometimes I think executives are too smart for their own good.  That intelligence has made simple tasks and courtesies a foreign language they just can’t grasp.  When I say, “Dial a number,” all they hear me say is “Poop, poop. I’m stupid.  I have a theatre degree.”  I actually had a boss tell me they never read any of the books or handouts for their business school classes and skipped class most of the time.  But, here they are, running a fortune 500 company.  Maybe I should have just floundered around like an idiot in film school – I’d be making million dollar movies by now.  In any case, here’s what I’m not missing about these dolts and those claustrophobic walls that strip the soul of spirit and gumption.

1) Never a Question, Always a Demand

I don't care how nice your smile is. Please don't tell me to go get you a box of tampons.

This isn’t a trait that every corporate slut shares.  It’s just a habit for those special few, like professional athletes and Hollywood actors, have been given way to much privilege for way too long.  The thing is, no matter if you ask me or tell me, I’m going to do it.  It’s my job.  Even if it’s not my job (I’ll get to that later) you know I’m going to do it.  So what’s the problem with adding a that little lilt at the end of your statement?  Really.  Are these words Kryptonite to you?  Is saying “will” or “would” at the beginning of a sentence going to ruin your street cred?  Is the office gang not going to let you come over for their weekly sleepovers?  Is everyone going to drive away in their Range Rovers when you come over?  Seriously.  On top of that, a thank you probably wouldn’t hurt either.  Here’s a helpful hint.  Sometimes, questions and praise will garner a more loyal employee as opposed to one who would like nothing more than to staple your eye lids shut and let you write your own damn memos.

2) Reading Over My Shoulder

"Dear Asian Guy Behind Me. There's gum in my top left hand drawer. Please use it if you;re going to be breathing on me."

A cubical may only have 3 walls, but that open space is actually an invisible wall made from privacy and courtesy.  It’s not your peephole int my world.  Don’t come up behind me, wait for me to finish what I’m doing and read my e-mails as a way to pass the time.  It’s rude and it’s a complete violation of my pravacy.  It’s not that I have porn in there or I’m writing a death threat to you.  It’s the principal of the whole thing.  And this still happens to me.  I don’t care if I’m the turd of the office and you can wipe me anywhere you want.  DON’T read my e-mails over my shoulder. Next time, I’m going to write about everything you’re doing at the moment and compare you to Jerry Sandusky.

3) Tech Retards

Now which one of you fits in this hole where The Microsoft Word For Dummies Class is at the bottom?

I understand that we’re not all IT experts and that some technology can be above even the most tech savvy.  However, not understanidng how e-mail works, or how to program a number into a cell phone?  How about not understaindg Microsoft Word!  Isn’t that a prerequisite toto being a businessman or woman?  Seriously.  I once had a boss in NYC who needed a cell phone.  I was his assistant’s assistant (talk about being the small turd in the office).  She was this fat, old New Yorker with a smoker’s cough.  Every time her condescending gravel voice emitted from across the office I want to jump out the window.  She wanted me to go out on the street and get price quotes for cellphones.  What am I, some minor league scout for cell phones?  Look at me, I’m traveling the road looking for that diamond in the rough who bats a 1000 and has the most bars?  Crimeny.  In New York – give me a travel stipend at least.

Clocking that flip phone at 6 megahertz per second. Get em a contract.

The thing was, this wasn’t 1989.  This was in 2000. So, since the wonderful invention called the Internet was in full swing, I asked if I could use her computer – they wouldn’t give me a computer with access.  You know what this idiot said?  “Oh, no.  We just go the Internet.  I don’t want you breaking it.”  Like the Internet is a fucking Faberge Egg and you’re the Russian Czar.  Good lord.  You know how I responded?  “Um, actually, I’m a member of the Internet generation.  I know how to use the ‘Internet‘.  Probably better than you.”  I hope I NEVER have to use that phrase again in my life.

4) Knowing Your Job Description

Unless your father's name is GOD and you can walk on water, I'm going to assume your title is VP. Not Christ.

Right next to being lazy comes not doing your job correctly.  There are certain things an executive is required to do in order for the whole machine to work.  If they aren’t done, then the machine still works, but that tiny cog at the bottom has to work that much harder.  That sucks.  Because that cog is me.  For instance, I had a boss who traveled.  A lot.  Like, all over the world.  I was in charge of her travel receipts for reimbursement.  Part of that job is to make sure you gather receipts so that you can turn them in.  Did she do that?  Not often enough.  She kept scribbles on cocktail napkins and brochures about what she spent.  My job then became not only assistant, but forger and graphic designer.  I had to find clever ways to “create” receipts.  The company policy?  If you don;t have a receipt, it comes out of your pocket.  And it’s not like her pockets weren’t lined.  So, if making up a receipt for a French diner for 1.50 euro cup of coffee seems outrageous – it’s because it is.

As well, remember, executives, you’re not some VIP dignitary from some outer space colony who, if there whims aren;t met,m can destroy us all.  You’re a businessman/woman.  When you book a $1500.00 plane ticket and you don;t get an isle seat, changing it around so that you’re flight now costs $8000.00 is not acceptable.  I’m sorry, that’s the kind of frivolous spending that put us in the current comic crisis.

5) Knowing My Job Description

Nope. It's spelled a-s-s-i-s-t-a-n-t. Not l-a-p d-o-g.

This is the absolute worst – beyond forgiveness and way beyond ethical standards within the workplace. I’ve only had one boss violate this rule beyond absurdity and it was BAD.  My job is to track expenses, file, book hotels and travel, schedule business appointments, take calls, organize your office, greet clients, sometimes get coffee or lunch and assist you with your everyday business needs.  My title is Administrative Assistant or Executive Assistant.  My title is NOT personal assistant.  But, somehow, this boss felt it was okay to have me do the following: schedule her kids lives – including summer camps, after school activities, play dates and even babysitting.

Again - not a travel expense folder. That's your son.

That’s just some of the nonsense I had to attend to.  I had to schedule all nanny duties, research/interview/hire and mediate with contractors for her home renovation (which is still going on 9 years later!), and the list goes on.  I once had to go to Ikea to  to pick out her new kitchen.  The kitchen contractor at Ikea was just as confused as I was.  Then she asked if I could knock down a for her before her husband stepped in and stopped it.  I even took her son trick-or-treating.  Listen, the real problem with doing this work was that that being a corporate assistant leaves no room for upward mobility.  It wasn’t like I was going to get promoted and get a better salary.  In fact, the only time an assistant can move up the food chain is in Hollywood where studio executives’ assistant regularly get higher positions.  Working in corporate finance – nope.  So really, there’s no carrot to dangle in front of a corporate assistant.  Only fear is going to get them to behave . . .

Which brings me to my point.  I eventually became an assistant to another executive at this company.  When I could finally look at my former position from an outside perspective, I saw just how manipulative my old boss was.  Now, she wasn’t a mean boss, just demanding.  She treated me with respect and never acted the tyrant.  However, every perosn she hired was in their early 20s and usually a long term temp.  That’s when it dawned on me – I was too young to say “no” to her ethically corrupt requests.  I didn’t know any better and I didn’t want to lose my job.  She never, ever hired a lifer: a person who’s goal was to be an assistant.  Why?  Because she knew that the instant she requested a personal task that person would say “no.”  They would say “no” because if they were fired all hell would break loose and the head honcho would eventually find out where the majority of the assistant’s salary was going.  And it wasn’t business travel.

Unless I made a fake travel receipt.

On a positive note, working for this person gave me ten times more respect for my own mother.  Ann Etienne raised 5 boys, went to school, held a job and never once had to hire 4 nannies (yes, my boss had up to 4 nannies), or an assistant to ran her family’s life.  My mom was one of the busiest and most overworked people I had ever known and she did it with grace and style.  She never complained and there wasn’t a lazy bone in her body.  My mom should have received my boss’s salary – she deserved it.  My mom’s hard work proved to me just how lazy some business people really are.

Here's looking at you, mom ;)

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