November 27, 2001
Keeping Things Tilted

The Main Marketing Guy was railing against The Oakland Tribune this morning.

"It's a lousy newspaper!" he groused. "I've tried to cancel my subscription twice, and now they're sending me TWO papers every morning."  And then he slammed his 'extra' copy onto the lobby coffee table with elaborate disgust.

I sat there at my desk ... calmly sipping my coffee, opening the morning mail, listening to him rant. When he came up for air, finally, I rewarded him with my sunniest, twinkliest, Gosh I Think You're Sooooo Interesting! smile. "My husband is a manager at The Oakland Tribune," I said sweetly.

The look on his face was more fun than sex and shopping put together.

Don't get me wrong. I've decided that I actually sorta like the Main Marketing Guy. We got off to a bumpy start, it's true: that whole "Fetch me a cup of coffee" episode still sorta rankles me, every time I think about it. He reminds me a little too much of The Oregon Boyfiend: all twitchy nervous energy and feng shui attitude. You know that if you move his pencil sharpener so much as a bazillionth of an inch to the left of his pencil holder, he's gonna notice. Also, he is a little overly fond of the Dramatic Pause For Effect:

Secra: "I have Harold Davidson from Davidson Langley and Addecco on the line. Would you like to speak to him?"
Secra: Or would you prefer I send him to voicemail?
MMG: Yes.

Plus I almost always have a problem with any man who has a neater office, better hair and/or prettier fingernails than *I* do.

But he's not a bad guy. I guess I'm slowly starting to figure that out. He helped me carry two bags of office groceries from the parking lot to the Dirt Company kitchen this morning. ("Oh goody!" he squealed, peering into one of the bags. "Hot chocolate!")  He at least makes an effort to type his own correspondence/maintain his own filing/Scotch-tape his own receipts to his own expense reports. He's the only person in the office, so far, who has noticed the improvements I've made to the proposal files (and has actually thanked me for it). Compared to The Testosterone Units on the fourth floor of The Totem Pole Company, of course, he's Captain Personality, Prince Charming and Matt Lauer, rolled into one.

I figure that if The Main Marketing Guy is my biggest "problem" on the job, these days, I'm one lucky Administrative Ass.

But still ... I don't think there's anything wrong with occasionally tilting the balance of power around the office, ever-so-slightly. It keeps things interesting. It keeps everybody on their toes. It allows you to retain both dignity and mystery: two incredibly useful tools in the world of Executive Assitude.

Plus it's fun. Not as much fun as sex and shopping put together, maybe ... but it's still fun.

Which is why I allowed the Main Marketing Guy to wonder, for the rest of the day, whether or not he had offended me with his comments about David's employer. (He didn't offend me, btw. I have my own brand of gripe against The Tribune ... mostly having to do with their stubborn refusal to promote my husband to Editor-In-Chief in spite of all my e-mails. There isn't anything anyone can say about the paper that David and I haven't said ourselves, on occasion. But The MMG doesn't need to know that.)  I didn't act miffed or hurt or angry when he was around: mostly I just made sure that I was always too "busy" whenever he stopped by my desk  --  answering the phone, discussing ground shipments with the UPS Guy, typing a bazillion-page sieve analysis report  --  to chit-chat with him about anything. By the end of the day he was bringing me slices of pumpkin bread, doing his own photocopying and drawing little smiley faces on Post-It notes  ... all in a transparent attempt to work his way back into my good graces. 

I let him off the hook eventually, of course. No one appreciates a peaceful workplace more than *I* do. I'm looking forward to a long, friendly working relationship with all of my co-workers at The Dirt Company ... The MMG included.

But I'll tell you this: if he ever again asks me to "fetch" him something, I will place an immediate (and anonymous) call to The Oakland Tribune circulation department, where I will personally see to it that his newspaper subscription is renewed for life.

In triplicate.

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