November 8, 2001
From My Day, Part I:
in the Dirt Company production room, sitting in front of the GBC
DocuBind P400, assembling a bazillion-page storm water systems
report that needs to go out the door in thirty minutes. Behind me,
another report -- this one all about wastewater systems -- is spitting
out of the copier, one double-sided page at a time. A triple-urgent fax
redialing on the other side of the room, all three phone lines are lit
up at once, and my latest paper cut is threatening to bleed all over
the pile of clean report covers in my lap.
that moment the unctuous Main Marketing Guy pokes his head in the
"If you're not busy," he says, "would you mind running across
the hall and fetching me a cup of coffee?"
From My Day, Part II:
office refrigerator resembles an eighth grade science class experiment
gone hideously awry.
pick up a plastic bag filled with what appear to be small black
ping-pong balls -- "Those are apples," says JoAnne grimly -- and I dump
it into the trash. The bag makes a wet, splatting sound as it hits the
bottom of the trash can.
is in charge of cleaning out the fridge?" I gasp.
JoAnne claps a sympathetic hand on my shoulder. "You might want to wear
something more casual on Fridays," she says.
From My Day, Part III:
from the corporate office in Los Angeles calls to get the daily
concrete test cylinder reports.
must be the new receptionist!" she says cheerfully.
just about to correct her -- my official title is "Administrative Ass" --
but I stop myself in mid-correction and take a look around. I'm sitting
at the front desk. I'm answering phones all day long. I'm the first
person anyone sees when they walk through the front door: the mailman,
the UPS Guy, the Fed-Ex Person, annoying walk-in salesmen. If anybody
in the office needs something faxed/filed/dusted/distributed ... I'm
I'm the new receptionist.
not quite sure how it happened. I didn't
consciously set out to climb my way back down the
career ladder, once I quit The Totem Pole Company last month. I didn't
say, OK, I hated Executive Assitude ... so let's go back to
doing something we're good at. (If THAT were the case I'd be
sitting in the Baby Boomer Chat Room right now, drunkenly ordering
everybody to type in Pig Latin.) When this job fell into my lap, I
accepted it mainly because my new employer was already familiar with my
abilities and my work history -- "I Survived Franz (And Lived To Tell
The Tale)" -- and because they were prepared to pay me what I was
here's what's amazing.
a receptionist again ... and I don't care.
why should I? It's familiar. It's fun. I'm good
it. (I never really wanted a career in the first place: my LIFE is my
career. I just need a way to pay the ISP bills.) I feel happier
and calmer and better about my professional life right now, in every
way that counts, than I've felt in almost three years -- since the last
time I was answering phones and cleaning refrigerators, during those
first halcyon months at The Totem Pole Company. Best of all, I feel competent
again ... and feeling competent beats a double-dose of St. John's Wort
any day of the week. No more spending four weeks preparing for a
meeting, only to see it blown off at the last minute. No more sitting
around wondering where I fit into the corporate heirarchy. No more
copious weeping in the Subaru every morning as David drives me to my
office. I'm tired at the end of the day -- I'm talking serious,
deep-down, scalp-to-toenail exhaustion -- but it's a good kind of
tired. It's the kind of tired that says I worked hard today,
and I did a damn fine job ... and unless the world blows up in the
middle of the night, I'll probably go back again tomorrow.
a lot to be said for feeling this way. It may come at the cost of
occasional minor personal indignity -- being asked to "fetch" a cup of
coffee or disinfect a refrigerator, once in awhile -- but I think it might be worth it.
I'm doing a Receptionist's work for an Executive Ass' salary. You can't beat
that with a GBC DocuBind P400.