Monday, January 27, 2014


A couple of weeks ago when my temp boss told me that they'd hired someone else for the position that I'd been doing for the past 3 months, I broke down and cried. Started slow, with some frowns and sniffles, but soon was full-out weeping, to where my "mean" boss was handing me tissues and telling me to take all the time I needed...

I did not like this job at all. But I was competent at it. And it was to pay very well. I wasn't intellectually stimulated, and I absolutely hated the constant glad-handing and smiling and "Would you like anything to drink?" involved... Not just me having to do this, but having to listen to it going on around me constantly; I was constantly inwardly cringing for both myself and for the others behaving so subserviently. (Not just the women secretaries, but every single person walking into the office --- as I mentioned before, it was a VIP's office: the sucking up and uber-joyousness EVERY person exhibited upon walking in was DRAINING in its falsity.)

But yeah, I WEPT when I found out I wasn't getting the job. I've been a job-gypsy for over 7 years now, ever since I left a regular position in Austin to move to New York in early 2007. My whole time in New York, and my whole time since coming home in 2010, has been a constant hustle, hassle of temp crap, some decent, some horrible, most draining in some way -- i.e., either nothing at all to do, or "lifer" office-lady bosses being nasty, or something... In this case, I wanted the $3800 a month salary very much, thought I could fake my way into being pleasant while jumping at every whim of the "officially retired" exec I was doing the correspondence for.

In reality, I was extremely competent at getting the letters typed and at booking appointments for the man, but... I absolutely hated his self-importance and his popping out of his office every half-hour to give me, in his words, a "special project" that wasn't "special" at all, just something minor and irritating. Like, say, a new Rolodex card. Or a third cancellation of a lunch appointment. (Which I somehow felt guilty for; just as I felt guilty for the people he sometimes kept waiting for 20 minutes out in the lobby.) This wasn't a "stressful environment" in the way that, say, a miner's job would be physically stressful. But it was, though, mentally stressful to me because I was doing a lot of extremely stupid stuff. And I'm sure the expression on my face sometimes showed my disdain for what I was doing.

At one point early on, my Executive Assistant secretary boss told me, in all seriousness: "If you want this job, you've got to OWN it." To me, "owning it" means doing the job right. It doesn't mean smiling and kowtowing (aka "shucking and jiving").

At the meeting where this woman told me I wasn't getting the job, she mentioned, first, that I hadn't really "earned" the job -- i.e., I had only 3 years of secretarial experience whereas others in the pool had 20 or more. (As an aside, I mentally calculated: At 48, I'm NEVER going to gain 20 years of secretarial experience, because I'll be retired by then -- THANK GOD.) Then she said, somewhat kindly I suppose, based on my resume that I'd handed her: "You were a WRITER! Why do you want this job?" ME: "I wasn't ever a WRITER, just a copy editor. And the publishing field dried up completely with the crash in 2008. I'm a secretary now."

I think she, as a longtime secretary, wanted to see her fellow longtime secretaries advance. No sympathy for those of us now apparently "slumming."

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