Dear New Me
If you’re reading this, it means I’m dead. Or have left the company. Actually probably the latter, although thoughts of ending it all are obviously par for the course when you consign yourself to the cesspit of PA life, as I’m sure you know. Anyway, congratulations! You must be very excited about your new role but before you dive joyously into the success-scented pool of office support, here are some tips that I think will really help you get to grips with the job. They’ve certainly helped me along the way!
1. You are the PERSONAL assistant and at this company, that means ‘personal’. Like all bosses, Boss Lady is largely unable to function without staff therefore your duties start before she achieves conciousness. You must get her up in the mornings so arrive at her house at 5am, climb into bed with her and spoon her gently until she wakes. If she screams she’s simply doing her vocal exercises and you shouldn’t break your hold. (N.B. You’re always the big spoon)
2. Etiquette. Advertising is a quirky industry and things that seem funny in the corporate world are completely acceptable here. For example, groping the buttocks is a traditional greeting in advertising but do remember that management expect a gentle crotch-cupping (twenty to thirty seconds is the norm).
3. Refreshments. Boss Lady is extremely particular about her morning drink. She likes her tea with five sugars and a teaspoon of coffee and you MUST stir it using your index finger. Always make sure you place the finger under her nose as you give her the drink, so she can be sure you’ve adhered to this requirement. (via twitter.com/TummyCustard).
4. Simon Friday. On Friday, you must only do something for Boss Lady when she prefixes the request with ‘Simon Says’ (e.g. Simon says email me the spreadsheet). If you carry out an instruction not prefixed with this, you will be fired. (via twitter.com/scalene_adv)
5. Yes/No. Advertising is quirky. You can tell this by the football table in reception and the Pop Tarts in the kitchen (no really, there are – check for yourself!). Remember that in this industry, ‘yes’ means ‘no’. You’ll get the hang of it after a few days and once you have, Boss Lady’s instructions will make so much more sense. (via twitter.com/Syzygy79)
6. Drugs. Your leisure time is your own for embroidery or falconry etc but it’s important you just say yes to drugs (see point 5!). Boss Lady requires a sample of your urine to be left in a CLEAR plastic bottle on her desk every Monday morning to be sent for testing. If you can fill a 500ml Volvic bottle, that should suffice.
7. Diary. The diary is your priority. Boss Lady eats stuff and buys things and it’s your responsibility to make sure she’s near a place at which she can do this. Her heroine is Anneka Rice so at the end of each day, set aside thirty minutes to turn the next day’s diary instructions into riddles so she can have fun running around London against the clock.
8. Expenses. Expenses are a necessary evil. Well, not evil, they’re not racist or violent but they’re annoying and tedious. At this company we like to try and make things fun and our accounts department is the craziest of the lot! You will never meet a more laid back, friendly and approachable group of women. At the end of the month, take all the receipts and fashion them into a papier maché farm animal of your choice (there are chicken wire and balloons in the stationery cupboard). Leave the animal on Jean’s desk (the one with the eye-warts) and she’ll be your friend for life!
9. Personal hygiene is extremely important for a happy, healthy office. Studies done by our male bosses have apparently shown that female pubic hair can be a hotbed of germs and therefore MUST be kept tidy. Hair length should be no more than 3mm. Please present your personal area to the male bosses on the last Tuesday of the month. You must ensure they do not mistake it for a sexual advance by saying loudly and clearly, ‘Lady garden inspection!’
10. Psychic ability. As a PA you will have quickly learned that unless you’re psychic you will spend your career doing everything wrong and crying in the toilets. If you don’t already have one, it’s advisable to purchase a crystal ball from any good clairvoyant suppliers and keep it on your desk under a velvet cover. When Boss Lady seems to think you should know what she means when she refers to people as ‘thingy oh what’s his name’ and asks if you’ve ‘done that thing’ for them, simply remove the cover, wave your hands over the ball and speak the special PA incantation: Oh great crystal, please guide me as to what the fuck this witch is banging on about.
That’s about it! I’d love to be available for you to call if you have any questions but I’m afraid I’ll be far too busy in therapy.