April 28, 2005

To the nice person who signed the *FootNotes* guestbook yesterday, wishing me a happy Administrative Professional's Day, I would like to say thank you for your thoughtfulness, your kind words, your good wishes, your amazing attention to detail.

I would also like to say ... Administrative Professional's Day. Bah Humbug.

Talk about your non-holiday. I didn't even realize it WAS Administrative Professional's Day until a couple of hours into the morning.  JoAnne wandered up to the front desk around 10:30, asking me if the California Overnight delivery had arrived from Corporate yet.  Yes it had, I replied, but there was nothing in the route mail for her today. "Not even something from Margaret?" she asked, sounding all wistful and deflated, and I replied no ... nothing from the Corporate Admin Director. Why?  Was she expecting something? 

"I thought we might get our ENVELOPES today," JoAnne said, and she gave me this long, meaningful, YOU-Know-What I'm-Talking-About look. 

Except that I didn't know what she was talking about. Our 'envelopes'? What envelopes?

"Our envelopes for Adminstrative Professionals Day," she said.

Ohhhhhhh.  THOSE envelopes. Holy shidt!

A quick glance at the desk calendar revealed that it was, indeed, that most sacred of  meaningless prefab holidays ... second only to Mother's Day and National Q-Tip Safety Awareness Day in importance. How the hell had I missed it?? Ordinarily I would have had Admininistrative Professional's Day circled in indelible red Sharpie on every calendar within a five-hundred-foot radius of my desk ... including the wall calendar hanging above the postage meter, the six-month Redi-Glance tacked next to the phone console AND the monthly whiteboard planner in the Copy Room behind my station. I would have started dropping 'subtle hints' around the Dirt Company a full two months in advance. ("Is it just me, or is this front desk looking really REALLY bare?") 

I would, at the very least, have ordered myself a Pick-Me-Up Bouquet and a couple of cheesy balloons, signed the card "Are you sure you won't reconsider my offer? Yours, D. Trump," and had the whole mess delivered to the front desk at the precise moment the Nerdy Geotechs were heading out to lunch.  

(Better yet, I would have arranged in advance to take a half-day off, in order to 'celebrate' this momentous occasion appropriately: at home, in my Happy Pants, watching Season 3 of "The Shield" on the laptop.)  

This year, however, Administrative Professionals Day seems to have completely flown under my holiday radar. And now JoAnne and I weren't even getting our generic thank-you cards from the corporate office, with the requisite limp fifty dollar bill tucked inside.


"I'll let you know if we get any other overnight shipments," I told her, even though she and I both knew it was probably a lost cause at this point. If an overnight package hasn't shown up by 10:30, as a rule, it isn't coming.  My boss sadly shuffled back down the hallway and closeted herself away in her office, with her country music and her Internet Mah-Jong, for the rest of the morning.

In the meanwhile, I immediately got on the phone and called David over at the newspaper.

"Do you realize what DAY this is?" I shouted at him. And then I sat back and enjoyed the moment of blind, blithering panic such a question invariably provokes. (You could almost hear him frantically ticking down the possibilities in his head. Birthday? Valentine's Day? Anniversary of Our First I.M. Conversation? Anniversary of Our First Sleepover?  Anniversary of The Anniversary of Our First Anniversary?) After a moment or two, I let him off the hook and told him that it was Administrative Professional's Day. This is the first year that David has had an actual, honest-to-goodness "Adminstrative Professional" working for him on Adminstrative Professional's Day ... therefore, it is the first year that the "holiday" becomes an issue for him. The newspaper finally, grudgingly assigned him a secretary last year, a sweet young woman named Beatrice, who takes care of his filing and his faxes and his phone-answering and all of the other admin shidt-jobs he'd been handling for himself (competently, abeit time-consumingly) all these years, ever since he was promoted to the thankless job of Junk Mail Manager. I haven't met Beatrice in person yet, but we've spoken on the phone a number of times, over the past few months, and she always displays the proper combination of fear and deference when talking to The Boss' Wife. (I like that quality in my husband's SecraTerri.)

David sounded properly panicked at the news. "What am I supposed to DO for her?" he whined.  "I've never DONE this before!  I need HELP! What do I DO??  Wahhh!" 

"Can you send her home for the rest of the day?" I suggested.  

If you're a boss, I'm here to tell you that that's what every loyal, competent, hard-working Administrative Professional really wants on her special day: to not have to look at your face/hear your voice/do your shidt jobs for a few blissful hours. (And to get PAID for it, thankyouverymuch.)  

But Beatrice had already been out sick for a couple of days, earlier in the week, and now they were battling some hellacious mid-week deadlines, and David really couldn't spare her, not even for a few hours. So I suggested flowers instead. "You could get her half a dozen roses," I said. Or he could pick up a nice Hallmark at Long's Drugs, write a complimentary note of thanks and tuck a little cash into the envelope. (Like *our* corporate office USUALLY does for us on AP Day. Grrrr.) Or he could go online and send her an Amazon gift certificate ... or he could make a donation to her favorite charity ... or he could give her those Scott's Seafood Restaurant coupons we never used ...

"Whatever you do," I added, "do NOT invite her out to lunch." 

There was a moment of silence on his end. "Really?" he said finally, in a teeny-tiny voice ... meaning that he was totally planning to blow off all my other brilliant ideas and invite her out to lunch.

"Trust me on this one," I replied. "She doesn't want to have lunch with you on Administrative Professional's Day."

Don't get me wrong. I'm sure that Beatrice loves having David as a boss, for many (not ALL! but MANY!) of the same reasons that I love having him as a husband: he's kind, he's funny, he's fair, he's smart, he smells good (most of the time), he cleans up after himself, he doesn't wipe his nose on his shirtsleeves. Best of all, he treats everyone with unfailing consideration and courtesy, even people who totally do not deserve it. I'm sure that Beatrice thanks her lucky stars every day that David is her boss. (And if she doesn't thank her lucky stars every day, she SHOULD. I say this as someone whose former boss once called her a "nincompoop" over the company-wide P.A. system.) Even so,  I'm equally sure that Beatrice does not want to go out to lunch with him as her Admistrative Professional's Day "treat." 

"Put it this way," I told David flatly. "I would rather have no recognition at all, today, than to have to go out to lunch with my boss."  It has nothing to do with how much I like or don't like JoAnne -- I like her just fine, as a matter of fact -- and everything to do with the sanctity of that sixty-minute disconnect from all things work-related.

Eventually he decided on flowers, I think -- "I'll run down the corner to the florist on my lunch hour," he said -- and we hung up, and I went back to my Mercury Rev and my Internet journals for the remainder of the morning, and that was pretty much that.

It was shortly before noon before JoAnne finally made another appearance at the front desk. On slow days, like today, we can go for hours without ever actually laying eyes on each other, even though our desks are less than a hundred feet apart. By this point we'd both received calls from the corporate office -- Happy Administrative Professionals Day!  Thanks for being YOU! -- plus a heads up that our thank-you envelopes would be arriving in tomorrow's overnight mail, rather than today's. ("Sorry for the mix-up!") We knew that that was going to pretty much be *it* for Adminstrative Professional's Day for the two of us ... at least, from a corporate standpoint. 

JoAnne, apparently, had other ideas.

"Jane and I were talking," she said -- Jane being the only other female/manager/human being in our office who gives four-ninths of a crap about it being Administrative Professional's Day -- "and we've decided that we would like to take you out to lunch to celebrate Administrative Professional's Day." And she beamed at me proudly, expectantly, benificently, as though she were offering me the equivalent of a half-dozen roses, an Amazon Gift Card, a charitable donation AND the rest of the afternoon off.

And yes, we're going to Scott's Seafood Restaurant.

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