Wednesday, September 6, 2006

A friend of mine is going through a possible job change, and an ancillary comment made by one of her respondents triggered a pet peeve of mine. So now I'm going to talk about that pet peeve. Just to make it clear, no one was disparaging or mean, it really has to do with the world's attitude toward Administrative Assistants.

You see, I know that there are a lot of people out there who take "just" an admin job until they can move on to the career of their dreams. They want to do tech work or be a manager or whatever, and that's great for them. Ambition is wonderful when harnessed and used productively. However, I find myself getting rather ticked off when people continually seem to take the attitude that administrative assistant positions are only filled by either people who are entry level and have no other skills, or people who are dead-enders, stuck in the position because they're too dumb or incapable of doing anything else. The implication that admin jobs are easily filled and easily worked really gets my goat.

The admin can make or break a company / department / team. If they're good, things run so smoothly that people don't even realize HOW good they are. They handle all of the details, anticipate all of the needs, and keep the cogs of modern business greased and moving in clockwork fashion. Anyone who doubts that has never had to deal with a BAD admin before. Anyone who HAS had to deal with a bad admin should know better and should treat their good admins like gold.

A friend of mine told me once that his favorite business instructor in college pounded it into his class' heads over and over again, "Treat your administrative assistant well. S/He has the power to make you look great, or to make you look horrible.". Well, that professor was right, and I wish that more people would realize it.

I am an administrative assistant. It's my job. I'm very proud of the job that I do. I'm excellent at it. I am organized, competent, pleasant, good with people, good at making people comfortable on the phone or in the waiting area, and talented at organizing offices and the people in them so that everything can be found easily and runs smoothly. I excel in anticipating needs, and am getting better at it every day as I learn more about this new industry that I've found myself in. I can fix office equipment, I can figure out how to get you on a plane for the cheapest price at the shortest notice, and I can call to re-schedule your doctor's appointment...all at the same time. I routinely perform a juggling act that would make Ringling Brothers performers green with envy...and I do it all with a smile.

I'm worth a hell of a lot, to be blunt, and it doesn't take much for me to know I'm appreciated. A 'thank you' or 'well done' now and then, being treated with RESPECT, being listened to when I have suggestions for ways to help the office run even more smoothly...oh yeah, and a decent paycheck. These are things that go a long way in showing that I'm recognized as a useful and integral part of the team that forms our office.

So no...I'm not "JUST" an admin. I'm a professional who specializes in making YOUR life easier. Respect that fact, and don't assume that I'm working this job because I am too ill-equipped to do anything else. This job is NOT easy, and the fact that I make it appear to be easy only serves as a testament to my abilities.

And if you really think I'm "just" an admin, then how about living without myself and the others like me who make things go? You wouldn't last ten minutes. I know this because I've seen what happens when myself and others like me miss a day of work.

"Just" an admin, indeed.

Friday, August 4, 2006

As I was driving to work this morning, I was thinking about the current round of reality shows. Now, I don't normally watch a lot of them, but the one about Superheroes is rather amusing. Last night one of the participants was eliminated, as happens on these things, and in his post-elimination rant he made a comment about one of the other participants that went something along the lines of "Like a fat woman is any kind of superhero? Puhleez!"

That gave me pause.

Why can't a fat woman be a superhero? Fat people in America deal with adversity and discrimination on a daily basis. Obesity is the last acceptable prejudice in our culture, and those who are afflicted with it face humiliation constantly. Seats in movie theatres and sporting arenas are too small to fit into, aisles on buses and planes are narrow, and we won't even go into the narrowness of airplane seats. I can tell you, however, that while you are sitting in your seat on the plane, dreading the flight because the person sitting next to you is large, they are not exactly having a picnic either. That person knows exactly what you're thinking. They knew it before they even got on the plane, and the look of fear on the faces of everyone with an empty seat next to them as they came down the aisle was repetitive torture. They're contorting themselves as best they can to keep from squashing you, knowing the whole time that it's a futile gesture, and that you probably don't know or care that their hips are bruising and numb from the seat arms and their legs have fallen asleep because they don't dare even shift for fear of infringing on your space even more.

Going to the grocery store or a restaurant brings even more judgement from others. There are people who will openly criticize the food choices of complete strangers. It can range from disapproving looks as the waiter brings food to the fat person's table, to loud "meant to be overheard" comments about how someone like that should be having a salad, not a steak. In grocery stores, a fat person's cart is routinely inspected by others as they pass by. There have even been instances of so-called helpful people actually taking items out of carts with words to the effect of "You don't need that, you should be eating healthier food."

Our culture implants shame and self-hatred at every turn when it comes to being overweight. Fat jokes are the last acceptable bastion of the comedians and the last socially acceptable sight gag in the movies. The derogatory images of blacks, women, and other minorities are slowly being removed from the realm of allowed but the images of the slovenly fat man in the stained t-shirt who sits in front of the television and chugs beer is still around and showing no signs of leaving. The fat chick is always the butt of the jokes, shown wearing muumuus and thick glasses, with bad hair and a pint of ice cream in her hand.

Is it any wonder that we have people spending millions of dollars on wonder pills as they try desperately to find a quick fix to their problem? Is it any wonder that we have children starving themselves and complaining about how fat they are at ages as young as six and seven?

The next time that you look at an overweight person and automatically assume that they're a slob who has no willpower, take a moment to realize what you are doing. If you just change a couple of words in that thought, you might find yourself shocked at your own thinking. (Examples of prejudices that are horrifying to most people: fat=black / slob=stupid / willpower=brains, fat=woman / slob=intelligence / willpower=sense).

Then there's the fact that, like the other prejudices mentioned, it's probably not true. It's much more likely that the person you are judging so harshly is just a person, like you or anyone else, who reacts to food differently than you do. There's a good chance that they're much more aware of their weight than you could ever be, and odds are that they're catching sight of themselves in that store window even as you look at them, and they're thinking thoughts about themselves that you would be appalled to hear.

Life as a fat person isn't all bon bons and luxuriating in your couch potato-ness. The real picture is that it's a study in self-hatred, self-abuse, and constantly being told by society at large that you're sub-human. Think about it the next time that you watch a movie and see the fat sight gag, because maybe it won't be quite so funny.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Are your phone calls safe? Phone records have always been available to government agencies when there is cause to access them. However, that has changed in the post 9/11 world, and now the government has carte blanche to access whatever information they so choose, without having to go through the bother of showing cause or necessity. I'm not sure about how others feel, but I know that this kind of Big Brother approach to government makes me very, very nervous.

I have no doubt that there will be people out there who say that if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about. No offense, my friends with the rose-coloured view, but that point of view is a fallacy. As is the thought that it is unpatriotic to question your government. The Founding Fathers are probably crying tears of disappointment wherever they are right now, because the principles that they fought for are slowly being eroded.

Take this masterpiece of wordplay presented by our Commander-in-Chief today:

"We are not mining or trolling through the personal lives of innocent Americans,"

So apparently the tens of millions of persons whose phone records they have accessed, mined and trolled through, and otherwise commandeered from the phone companies, those people are obviously not innocent Americans. If they were innocent, their records wouldn't have been accessed.

Again, if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about. Right? Riiiiiight...

I end this with another quote, one that I find to be more and more applicable in our times:

The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve, nor will he ever receive, either. - Benjamin Franklin

Say it again, Ben. You got it right.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

So I've started a blog here. I already have a LiveJournal account, but I figured that I'd try it over here too as a lot of people seem to like this site. So we'll see how this goes. I'm trying to decide what to use this particular blog for. It's tempting to use it as a political blog, commentary on the modern world and all that rot. I wonder, though, who would find that even remotely interesting, though. After all, I'm not a famous political pundit. I'm just an average person trying to survive in rather insane times.

Then again, maybe more of us average folke need to speak up about these so-called "interesting times" that we live in. More voices need to be heard when the government seems to be going from "by the people, for the people" to "by the profit, for the bottom line", and when the President of the United States is more concerned about whether his oil buddies are making the most profit possible than he is about whether the average person can afford to get to work every day because gas prices are so high.

I warn you now, I lean strongly toward the left, though I have moments when I suddenly arch back toward the conservative side. I do enjoy a good debate, though, as long as it remains a debate rather than an argument.

So...if you're not already bored, then I look forward to a fun ride together. Let's explore this world we're in, and see what we can see.

If you are bored, well then I doubt you've read this far anyway. :)