Showing the kind of grasp of current affairs that prompted The Guardian to describe A Brit Out Of Water as “all the news that’s fit to print, about a fortnight after it should be printed”, Wednesday 23rd April was Administrative Professionals Day here in the United States. A day to celebrate all the work that assistants, PAs and secretaries do for their bosses, and to show that you really do appreciate it when you ask them to pick up your dry cleaning or phone your wife to say that you’re stuck in a meeting (when in reality you’re stuck in a bar with that girl from accounts).
Needless to say, I didn’t even realise there was such a thing as Administrative Professionals Day until about three days after it happened, and my assistant went unrewarded for all her hard work. Next year the “Sorry, I’m British” excuse might not be as effective, but for the moment it’s holding me in good stead.
I’ve actually always been useless at having an assistant. Having seen too many bosses abuse their power by getting their assistant to go out to buy them stamps, or book dinner reservations, I always go above and beyond to make sure that any assistant feels like I’m not taking advantage of their position. Sadly such a policy tends to backfire when I over compensate, and spend my day picking up their dry cleaning and phoning their partner to let them know that they’re stuck in a
barmeeting and won’t be back until late.
Personally I’m still struggling to come to terms with the fact that I live in a country that has something called Administrative Professionals Day. The Political Correctness Council must have worked overtime to come up with that moniker (“you can’t call them assistants, for crying out loud!”). I’m guessing that American Greetings or Hallmark had their hand in it somewhere, and I know it doesn’t exactly have the popularity of Mother’s Day, but it still seems a bit over the top to remind us to be pleasant to the people we work with.
Before you know it, we’ll be celebrating Be Nice To Your Bug Exterminator Week or Hug A Plumber Day.
Having said that, if the event I witnessed last week in Miami is anything to go by, maybe Administrative Professionals Day is an absolute must. As I waited for my taxi to the airport, I watched a few guys practicing their putting on the adjacent golf course’s practice green. Between every single shot that one of the men took, his assistant would hand him his Blackberry so that he could check his emails or make a phone call, before slinking back to the edge of the green.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, when the blokes made their way off the practice green to start their round, they all jumped into a convoy of golf buggies to make their way around the course.
Except the assistant, that is. They made her walk behind them.