In my position as publisher and senior vice president here at MidWeek, I have the privilege of having an executive assistant. She is a wonderful woman whom I have come to depend on over the years she has worked for me. She actually serves my entire department, and everybody loves her.
For the most part, I am pretty self-sufficient, as I answer my own phone, write my own letters, schedule my own appointments and, yes, make my own coffee. Not that she doesn’t offer to do that, but I’m perfectly capable of doing things for myself, which helps to free her up so she can assist others in my department.
She does handle a ton of administrative duties, so her position is more than justified. I would never take her for granted. Then again, maybe I do and just don’t realize it.
Recently she abruptly had to take an extended leave. While our main office sent another terrific woman to help cover some of her duties, at best it was only for a couple of hours a day.
On the first day my assistant was gone, she sent her adult daughter to the office to drop off some items. My assistant’s message was, “Ron, today is when we celebrate birthdays in the department. In the bag is a birthday cake and a container of fresh fruit for our vegetarians.”
I guess I was expected to carry out the office birthday tradition.
Of course, her version is with full-blown decorations, candles, utensils, etc. My version was much more Spartan, namely cake served on paper towels. As the days went by, I found myself having to do all the “little” things she takes care of – I had to restock supplies at our coffee station, get light bulbs changed and replace empty hand-soap dispensers.
After two weeks, I was sorting and handing out mail, tidying up our kitchenette and bringing in and putting out snacks for the staff. I was turning into Mrs. Doubtfire. It’s a good thing she’s coming back soon, otherwise I’d start crocheting doilies and a cozy cover for the copy machine.
Note to self: “Send me flowers on Professional Assistant’s Day.”