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Assistant's Revenge
May 23, 2002 7:49 AM   Subscribe

Assistant's Revenge So she got fired! But she did get to tell her boss off in the New York Post!
posted by wsfinkel (44 comments total)

 
I hope now MediaBistro decides to discontinue its 'Bitch Box' feature (where disgruntled staffers let loose).
posted by krewson at 7:56 AM on May 23, 2002


Oh my god! This means there's finally an opening at Hearst!
posted by salsamander at 8:01 AM on May 23, 2002


Excuse me. I need p--!
posted by srboisvert at 8:03 AM on May 23, 2002


D---, I lost a 'to' in there.
posted by srboisvert at 8:04 AM on May 23, 2002


That made it funnier.
posted by brownpau at 8:06 AM on May 23, 2002


This woman need get fired. Have bad attitude.
posted by Faze at 8:22 AM on May 23, 2002


Bad attitude?? Her gripes seem totally reasonable to me. She sounds like so many thousands of underpaid, overworked, never-appreciated assistants who are the ones that actually keep the wheels turning in the corporate palaces strewn across the land. Good for her (though I am sorry she lost her source of income).
posted by mapalm at 8:30 AM on May 23, 2002


This woman probably had a really bad boss. There are certain execs that I could name that can't keep sane admins, and no one blames the admins for the revolving door.
posted by SpecialK at 8:31 AM on May 23, 2002


Bravo! Having worked in many environments where I have seen (and been on the receiving end of) these sorts of abuses, I can fully empathize. The fact that someone would fire someone for anonymously airing such valid concerns proves the assistant's point.
posted by rushmc at 8:38 AM on May 23, 2002


I am a secretary in an office downtown. I hate my job. I have many of the same complaints.

Additions:

1. Don't put a folder in my inbox, all the way down the hall from you, with a note that says to file it in the drawer in your desk. Save yourself the trip and file it yourself!

2. When you're on the phone with one of your buddies at another agency that you want to impress, it is STILL not cool to refer to me as one of your "people." I am your secretary.

3. When your boss complains to you that I don't do my work, when you know otherwise, don't be a wimp and tell him that you'll talk to me about it! Set the record straight. There's a reason I always get top marks on my semiannual reviews, right?

4. Don't make the company buy you a big oversized truck that you never drive, just so you can park it in your driveway so the neighbors won't start to suspect that you're gay.

And regardless of whether or not this lady had the right to post her rant and still keep her job, I admire her bravery (and wit).
posted by katieinshoes at 8:49 AM on May 23, 2002


Yeah, right on for the admin. Those people are treated like serfs most of the time and it's just wrong. I'm actually sorry she got fired. If I'd been in the management chain, I would have promoted her. It's not bad attitude if it's reality.

I had a job once at director level, and I always had a candy jar on my desk...and barbie heads on the walls, but that's a different story...anyway, I had a couple of VP's bitch about it when the jar went empty, or when it wasn't their candy of choice, but I never saw them pony up to buy anything. These same people would try...keyword try...to treat me like I was a personal assistant, despite the fact that I was running a 14 person team and didn't have time to do their personal little errands. They saw a woman, and assumed I was a slave worker.

I say good for her. I hope she finds a better job, at a better company, for better pay, and with a boss who appreciates how good it is to have an assistant.
posted by dejah420 at 9:12 AM on May 23, 2002


I once worked as an assistant at Hearst. My boss was a celebrity editor who didn't do a lick of work and made me type all his personal correspondence. But you know what? It was pretty much fun and interesting and I've worked in a lot, lot worse places. Attitude is everything. This woman's whining and bitching tells us everything we need to know about her. She's a loser.
posted by Faze at 9:15 AM on May 23, 2002


I clicked on the link expecting to find myself sympathetic, having been an executive assistant and gotten treated like shit more than once. But she really does have the wrong attitude. Most of the things she mentioned really are part of an administrative assistant's job much of the time...the whole purpose is to take care of those annoying little things like getting the candy and making the copies so that the execs don't have to. I'm with her on the "after 5:30, too late" and the "don't rifle through my desk" stuff, though. She should have just demanded a raise or quit.
posted by bingo at 9:28 AM on May 23, 2002


I understand the woman's complaints, but she's a bonehead for doing something like that at work. She made a bad decision, and she was fired. It's her fault, entirely.
posted by Samsonov14 at 9:55 AM on May 23, 2002


Another point to consider: If Hearst has a company policy of no personal calls or emails (emergencies excluded), then no matter who she was communicating with or what she was saying, the company has a right to fire her for violating company policy. She would have been wiser to post from home.
posted by onhazier at 10:01 AM on May 23, 2002


Yeah, many valid grievances, but airing them this way doesn't show the best judgment.

Katieinshoes, why is it so terrible to refer to you as "people," and is "secretary" politcally incorrect or not? I thought it was somehow demeaning. (?)
posted by luser at 10:05 AM on May 23, 2002


Luser: It implies that they own you. No woman wants to be thought of as "owned".
posted by animoller at 11:02 AM on May 23, 2002


Attitude is everything.

Yes, it is, and it appears that your attitude is that it is okay for others to treat you like crap. Self-esteem problems?

A job is a contract between two parties regarding the performance of certain work. It is not a favor, for which one is beholden, nor a blank check for limitless abuse.
posted by rushmc at 11:37 AM on May 23, 2002


No woman wants to be thought of as "owned".

Careful, there. There are many male administrative assistants in today's workplace, and I suspect their feelings about slavery are quite similar.
posted by rushmc at 11:38 AM on May 23, 2002


Sheesh, who cares if she has a "bad attitude" as long as she (presumably) got the work done. But anyone who posts anything from work expecting it to remain "anonymous" has a few things to learn.
posted by nstop at 11:41 AM on May 23, 2002


A job is not about "getting a job done." It's a whole existential process for you and your bosses and co-workers. People who act as if their jobs are merely doing a certain set of tasks are always the biggest bummers in the office. Treat your boss nice, and your boss will treat you nice. I've never seen it fail, and I've worked for some bears.
posted by Faze at 12:00 PM on May 23, 2002


She's a whiner. Her concerns are not particularly egregious, certainly not problems that any competent admin could have handled.

The candy jar, for example. The admin where I used to work, when confronted with the same issue, went to upper management, asked for and got a candy allowance (it was good for morale) and made it clear that going on a "candy run" was now one of her duties. I know she used the chance to do some shopping for herself as well, so, good for her.
posted by vacapinta at 12:02 PM on May 23, 2002


No [one] wants to be thought of as "owned".

How is "my people" more ownership oriented than "my secretary" though? I suspect she just found it annoying that the boss would do that "i'll have my people get back to you" thing.

yeah, the thing about crap jobs is that they involve a lot of crap work, and you know that going in. But at least, at 5:30, it's over and you don't have to worry about it anymore - it's really not gonna affect you much if an account is lost or a sale isn't made or whatever. So you do the grunt work and don't get much respect but you probably don't get ulcers or forget your kid's names etc... If she wanted an exec job & thought she could qualify she should apply for it.

Though the thing about the candy jar is usually a treat on the part of the secretary and not a part of the job descript., so if that's taken for granted and complained about I can see why she'd get annoyed.
posted by mdn at 12:03 PM on May 23, 2002


Another point to consider: If Hearst has a company policy of no personal calls or emails (emergencies excluded), then no matter who she was communicating with or what she was saying, the company has a right to fire her for violating company policy. She would have been wiser to post from home.
posted by onhazier at 10:01 AM PST on May 23


She would have been wiser to post using a remailer, if possible. But really, who would have guessed that Hearst would track down her IP address?
posted by mecran01 at 12:45 PM on May 23, 2002


Treat your boss nice, and your boss will treat you nice.

So make his coffee, do his laundry, buy his wife's birthday presents, give him blowjobs?

You truly ARE of another era, Faze.
posted by rushmc at 12:53 PM on May 23, 2002


Treat your boss nice, and your boss will treat you nice.

So make his coffee, do his laundry, buy his wife's birthday presents, give him blowjobs?

You truly ARE of another era, Faze.
posted by rushmc at 12:54 PM on May 23, 2002


Katieinshoes, why is it so terrible to refer to you as "people," and is "secretary" politically incorrect or not? I thought it was somehow demeaning. (?)

As animoller said, it implies ownership of some sort. I know that I'm lower on the office food chain, but that's no excuse for my boss to say things like "I'll just have one of my people mail that off to you, Tom."

And secretary is my title. They would promote me to "administrative aide" because I do administrative work, but in order to have that position at my agency, you have to have a 2 year college degree, which I do not have as I am still a student. So I'm stuck as a lowly secretary, along with a young man who is also a secretary due to the same little rule as me. I do a lot more complex things than "just" a secretary, and I sign most of my letters as "Project Administrator" but technically I'm a secretary. I'm okay with that. Afterall, I got the job when I was 16, making far above what my peers made. That's enough to make me happy, I don't need a politically correct title.
posted by katieinshoes at 1:06 PM on May 23, 2002


Obviously, sexual harassment is out of line. But beyond that, you should never consider yourself "above" doing anything you are asked on the job. If you do what you are asked, cheerfully and without complaining, you will quickly be identified as a good and loyal employee, and be commensurately rewarded. Not to mention, you will earn the respect of your bosses and peers, and will never be asked to do anything demeaning. Plus, you will advance in the company. (Barring bad business luck for the enterprise at large.) I'm not kidding. This Horatio Alger stuff really works.
posted by Faze at 1:10 PM on May 23, 2002


Also, it's not the "my" that bothers me. I call him "my boss." It's "people" that is offensive because it implies insignificance by being unneccesarily vague.

Would it be acceptable if he said "I'll have some woman do this"? No. Is it technically incorrect? No. I'm a woman. But it's that he's so vague, using such a broad term with no reason to. Call me what I am. I'm not just any person, I'm your secretary.

(And a good one at that.)
posted by katieinshoes at 1:17 PM on May 23, 2002


Wow, I feel like I've learned something here today
*hugs all around*

*Split-second-longer-hug than strictly necessary*

*subpeona*
posted by luser at 1:41 PM on May 23, 2002


mecran01, I doubt they were going at it from that direction. All they really had to do was have the router spit out its log for all connections to mediabistro.com. And if it WAS mail, jeez, that's even easier.

Look, no question that some bosses are assholes, and also that some employees are whiners. I tend to agree that the stuff listed in this gripe were, well, actually stuff that would fall under the rubric of "assistant". This is quite common and ultimately there's nothing wrong with being a valet for a busy executive, unless you screwed up by asking too few questions during the interview process and thought you were going to be strictly a secretary. Indeed, doing the valet stuff well might be more important toward getting a promotion within the company than sticking to the letter of the job description. Maybe the boss is an overpaid idjit who ought to pay for his candy and pick up his own dry-cleaning, but putting him in the position of realizing he's an idjit is not the way to endear yourself to him.
posted by dhartung at 1:52 PM on May 23, 2002


katieinshoes - I suspect it's just a slang thing like we'll do lunch. Still, there may be a reason your boss wants to be vauge. He wants to make sure the person he's speaking with knows (or believes) that he has several people reporting to him. It's not just I have a secretary, so I'm an important person. It's I have people, plural, so I'm a very important person (important being a relative measure here).

Besides, it's not important to the person on the other end of the conversation that you are going to do it, or that your boss's secretary is going to do it. It's just important that somebody is going to do it.
posted by willnot at 1:54 PM on May 23, 2002


But beyond that, you should never consider yourself "above" doing anything you are asked on the job. If you do what you are asked, cheerfully and without complaining, you will quickly be identified as a good and loyal employee, and be commensurately rewarded.

Are you bucking for a job? Cuz it ain't workin'. ;)

Seriously, though, I find your attitude reprehensible. It is quite possible to be an efficient, friendly, and accommodating employee without demeaning oneself by adopting the pose of a servant. Sure, you may be well-compensated for your ass-kissing, but the stink stays on the lips a very long time. You can't put a price on dignity.
posted by rushmc at 2:18 PM on May 23, 2002


If you do what you are asked, cheerfully and without complaining, you will quickly be identified as a good and loyal employee, and be commensurately rewarded.

....or be taken for a sucker and a pushover and given all the shit work that all the other admin staff refuses to do. I've been there too often to completely believe in your utopic business world model, faze. job descriptions are your friends.
posted by jessamyn at 4:16 PM on May 23, 2002


Faze: ...you should never consider yourself "above" doing anything you are asked on the job. If you do what you are asked, cheerfully and without complaining, you will quickly be identified as a good and loyal employee, and be commensurately rewarded. Not to mention, you will earn the respect of your bosses and peers, and will never be asked to do anything demeaning. Plus, you will advance in the company.

Add me to the dissenters. In my experience, this is all completely untrue. If you do what you are asked, cheerfully and without complaining, and what you are asked to do is demeaning and falls outside your job description, you will be asked to perform the same tasks more frequently in the future, without compensation. You will be identified as a syncophant for the company to suck dry and then release when you have no more blood to give, or when it's convenient for them, whichever comes first.
posted by bingo at 4:42 PM on May 23, 2002


Even if a lot of the things she bitches about fall under her job description, she's still well within her rights to bitch and make fun of her "superiors" stupidity and smugness. It warmed this service industry grunt's soul, I tell you what. We need more of this kinda stuff, both to let us proles blow off some rage and to let the Creative Class, Bobo's in charge of things, that theyaren't as terrific as they think they are, dammit.

OK, I feel better.

posted by jonmc at 7:06 PM on May 23, 2002


The last three comments have summed up my feelings completely. I'm in a very similar position right now.

What I want to know is, how long does it take to "pay your dues" and just become another disgruntled "regular" employee.
posted by melissa at 7:09 PM on May 23, 2002


If you do what you are asked, cheerfully and without complaining, you will quickly be identified as a good and loyal employee, and be commensurately rewarded. Not to mention, you will earn the respect of your bosses and peers, and will never be asked to do anything demeaning. Plus, you will advance in the company.

keeping them happy isn't the same thing as earning their respect.
posted by lizs at 8:00 PM on May 23, 2002


I'm behind Jessamyn 100%. I've busted my gluteal region at work for 3 years just to get more and more work dumped on me, off of the shoulders of the twits that can't be motivated to pick their own teeth, just to get looked over for the same promotions those mouth-breathing cretins seem to reap en masse. And, for what it's worth, I didn't even get the lousy $20 bonus for employee of the month. Of course, these are the same bosses that forget to enter vacation pay and sick days, until I harass them about it the next week...
posted by Samizdata at 1:53 AM on May 24, 2002


[Disclaimer: I am an employer.]

Given people of equal skills, I will always, always, always hire the person with more of a "team player" attitude. I look for it specifically in interviewing. Matter of fact, I would rather hire person A with 20% less relevant skills/experience, but the right spirit, than person B with
greater skills and a "that's not in my job description" demeanor. It really is the secret to going far.

And in the same breath, I also say that as an employer, it's my duty not to be a mouth-breather (unless its allergy season). Treating my colleagues with respect, helping them out, and not asking them to do anything I'm not pitching in on is my primary responsibility.

And we've had about 220% growth each year of the last five. And our five-year retention rate is in the high 90's.

And my calves hurt now, so it's time to leap off my soapbox.
posted by ebarker at 6:43 AM on May 24, 2002


Just curious, ebarker...when was the last time you cleaned your office's toilets? Or aren't you a "team player?"
posted by rushmc at 11:18 AM on May 24, 2002


rushmc: Monday. Was my turn. Change the Clorox tablet in the tanks and everything.

Took out five bags of trash today.
posted by ebarker at 11:31 AM on May 24, 2002


I tend to support the team-player, over-and-beyond attitude, but it depends on context. I'm a programmer in a small company, and I have no problem at all with taking out the trash, replenishing the paper towels in the men's room, or moving office furniture if it's needed. Neither does anyone else. That's what makes it work. Everyone does what's needed because they know they're not the sucker who's being singled out to do someone else's crap jobs. That's why it works for ebarker - since he's willing to kick in and do his share, his employees know he's not taking advantage. On the other hand, someone who's hired as a secretary, but then treated like a personal servant by a boss who won't go the extra mile for them - that person has a right to complain and a right to set limits.
posted by tdismukes at 12:09 PM on May 24, 2002


What tdismukes said. There can be a fine line between being a team player and being the team's towel boy. If you can stay on the right side of that line, more power to you. Personally, when I'm interviewing for a job and I hear the phrase "team player," I get uneasy. I want jobs where I am performing a certain task and getting paid for it. Because I like to care about what I do, I may exceed my job performance requirements, but until I get a raise for doing so, I consider every extra jule of energy I expend on that job a huge favor to my employer.
posted by bingo at 7:27 PM on May 24, 2002


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