Tag: Secretary

Are You There, God? It’s Me, C.

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”
― Albert Einstein

Minions?  Are you still reeling from that happiness bomb that J. dropped on us collectively?  Is your soul still singing with glee?  Are visions of crumpets and home dancing in your heads?  No…just me?   Well, thrills happen but ridiculousness is eternal.  I’ll update you on plans soon, but in the meantime, here’s a cheap laugh at my expense.

In my current fog (plus the fact that I’m a bit thrown off since I worked yesterday on the holiday and my coworkers and I are running on different mental timelines), I answered the phone today to a perky voice declaring, “Hi, I’m Jane Smith, calling from The Universe.”

I’m horrifyingly embarrassed to tell you this tale, but my brain didn’t compute this one very quickly
“The Universe.”  I repeated stupidly.
“Yes, I think I’ve been trying to get a hold of you for a while now.”
“Ah.”  Praise Odin my backup generators didn’t fail me.  “How can I help you?”
“Well we’re working on something big right now, and we’d like some police involvement.”
“Of course.”
“Could I set up a meeting with Lt. Citrus for next week for a brief interview?”

In the area there are multiple newspapers, some of them with laughably grandiose names: The World, The All The News That’s Fit to Print Times Gazette Post, and…The Universe.  I was not, in fact having an existential crisis.  I’m still beating my head on my desk at how long it took my brain to catch up to that.  Wonky holidays and happiness, kitten, make a potent combination!

I’m not proud of this one…

Office Food Chain

“If you have a job without any aggravations, you don’t have a job. ”
~ Malcolm S. Forbes

Things that make me sigh:

When an officer stands at the copy machine for several minutes staring at it before turning to me.
“C., it says open drawer one and add more paper.  Why isn’t it printing?”
“Because you need to add more paper.”
He stands and looks at me for a long moment before I realize what he’s really asking.  At which point I have to leave the dozen files on my desk, the background check, and the wage changes, to walk ten feet to a cabinet labeled, “Paper,” and put a few handfuls of paper into drawer number one.

Things that make me raise an eyebrow.

Said officer watching me do the whole spiel before saying, “Well, that was easy.”

No kidding.

Out. Law.

“First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”
– William Shakespeare

Exhibit A, proof that I'm a nice person, damn it!

Both my father and father-in-law are lawyers, lots of my friends parents are lawyers, I grew up amidst a plethora of lawyers, dumplings.  Charming one and all!  I never understood the all-consuming hatred some people have for lawyers… until I worked for a police department.  Now in the cosmic scheme of things most lawyers come just above tabloid journalists and other assorted media vultures, followed by cockroaches.  Which, as everyone knows, are the most horrifying, revolting, filthy concoction of vileness God ever turned out wandering-

But I digress.  Lawyers.  I am fully aware that most are decent and lovely people (this means you, Dad) but somehow I never seem to come in contact with those types professionally.  For instance!  The one who called me today and explained how he was representing the victim of some property damage.

He wanted to know the process of personal conflict mediation on campus and I explained and offered to direct him to the proper department, but no, that didn’t answer his question.  Perhaps I could take him through the process of punishment for such behavior on campus?  I explained that if the incident was a criminal matter then charges and citations would be taken up (as they always have been) by the district court, but internal university matters had a separate office for working through such things, perhaps Master Lawyer would like their information?  But that didn’t help either.  Finally I asked what exactly it was that I could help him with.
“Well, the two parties came to an agreement about repairing the damage, but that the other party has now refused to make any payments.”
“I see, but I’m not sure how I can help, sir.”
“What we were thinking…that is, we thought that maybe…perhaps that you would be able to punish this person…”
“I’m afraid I don’t follow, sir.  As I said, that really would be a matter for the courts-”
“No, what I mean is, perhaps the university could put a hold on his student account to keep him from going to classes or anything.  You know, to help us exert pressure on him?”

Pictured: said raised eyebrow

Which is precisely when C. the Chipper and Helpful Office Assistant turn into Humorless, Schoolmarm-ish Small Dog of the Raised Eyebrow.
“Just so I understand, you are asking for my help in involving the university in a personal dispute between private individuals, where the police department has absolutely no need and the university no right to interfere?”
“Or, more plainly, you’re asking my help in getting the university to bully this other party for your client?”
“Ah.  Yes?”
“I can’t – won’t – help you with that, sir.  And nor can any other university employee I’m afraid.”  Quick transition back to Chipper and Helpful C..  “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“Um, no, I don’t think so.”
“Have a nice day, sir.”

Faugh!  What correspondence school did you get your “law” “degree” from, pray?

Redding, ‘Rightin, ‘Rethmetic

“My spelling is Wobbly. It’s good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places.”
– A. A. Milne

Pumpkins, you know I try to blend the everyday with humor, toss in a pinch of cynicism, and baste it lovingly with hyperbole before serving it up to you, piping hot…but there are some things that cannot be sugar coated.  I hate to break it to you if you didn’t already suspect it, or alternatively confirm your worst fears if you did: the kids are not alright.

"May I have the word again, please?" "Your word is 'cat.'"

At least, their spelling isn’t.    I’m again convinced that autocorrect is killing our brains. Here’s a few of our most recent puzzles (from witness statements, appeals, emails, and letters) and our best guesses as to what they are supposed to mean:

hared = hard
vary = very
ad = and
mastak = mistake
whey = why
exspesholy/espetially = especially
roung = wrong
lugudge = luggage
situadion = situation
oll = all
agaon = again

Dear Me, You’re An Unpleasant Person, Aren’t You?

“Whoever one is, and wherever one is, one is always in the wrong if one is rude. ”
~ Maurice Baring

Dear World at Large,

Me again!  You know, if you could just learn one or two of these little lessons I’m trying to get across, we wouldn’t have to speak so often.  You could go along your merry way and I could kick back and return to chuckling benignly at your expense.  But alas, you seem determined to thrust yourself rudely at me, and here we are.

This one will be pretty short:

We salute you, brave barista.

It is an almost laughable fallacy of yours that customer service will get better as you get nastier.  Snarling (literally) at us, calling us foul names, rolling your eyes and making “under your breath” commentary about the person trying to help you (heavy on the word “incompetence”) might be a nice, passive aggressive way for you to make your feelings known, but it will not speed us up.  It will not imbue us with bureaucratic powers we do not currently posses and it will not endear you to us.  Screaming at us will actually make us less inclined to work with you, as we will be primarily concerned with getting you out of our hair.

And, here’s a tip, if you are determined to be a b***** or a b******, being surprised when someone responds to you in kind doesn’t become you.  Because someday, some brave soul not confined to office-job-obligated politeness will let you have it.  And you will find it a harrowing experience.

Just a heads up,

Bring Me Your Gold, Virgins, and Chocolate!

“Next to excellence is the appreciation of it.”
~ William Makepeace

Being a secretary is largely thankless.  It doesn’t matter that you can’t use a fax machine without my help and haven’t the faintest clue how to order your own printing paper, I will still be lower on the totem poll.  It’s worrying, poodles.

But it’s Office Administrative Professionals Week and Susie bought us all cupcakes to celebrate our awesomeness.  I’m munching on a chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting and Nutella stuffed little tribute to the fact that we are good at our jobs.  Cheers!

Basely stolen from the ever fabulous Admin Gal (see here: http://administrativemadness.blogspot.com)

Paper. Work.

“Oh, my giddy aunt!”
– C.

Good.  Bleeding.  Grief.

We are in that inverted paradox that exists on university campuses, the storm before the quiet.  The term just ended and people are scattering like insects, and I am kept busy because lots of them need paperwork done for bar exams, licensing boards, visas, internships, and jobs.  Soon they will all be gone and silence will descend until Fall term – disturbed only by the occasional conference and the heathen invaders those entail.

The great trouble with this need for paperwork, is the propensity people have to leave it all to the last minute.  For example, we have designated times for fingerprinting.  And yet, invariably at this time of year, at 2 o’clock when the sign says we should be done, four or five people fall through the door panting and beg us to make an exception and fingerprint them just this once.  And I inevitably do.  Because I am a nice person, damn it.

But there are some days that this high-minded benevolence mixes with irritation, today was one of them.

This poor girl came in and we spent nearly an hour trying to help her out.  The trouble was that it was awfully difficult to help her, because she’d made a right mess of her job application.  First of all she hadn’t filled out any of the paperwork that needed to be done before I could take her prints, then it transpired that she needed traditional ink fingerprints and not digitally taken ones so I had to beg an officer for help, and then she discovered that she still didn’t have all of the things she needed to send off with said fingerprints anyway!  It turns out she hadn’t actually read through her hiring packet – which, if my job depended on it, I think I would have taken the time to do.

Emotionally stunted, useless lump that I am, I patted her arm awkwardly and promised to do my best to help her as she sobbed all over my counter, but inwardly I shook a schoolmarm-ish finger at her.  “And what did we learn from this, my girl?”


“I’ve ridden the tiger ragged.  That tiger, it’s rolled over on its blazing back and put up its paws and just asked me to stop.”
– Glenn Duncan, I Lucifer

I really was expecting a slow day today, kittens.  It’s below freezing so no one’s about, my phone has rung exactly twice, and until 11 this morning I was staring at my empty inbox wondering how I would fill the time.  Woof, was I misled!

Hennessy and I are wrangling dozens of student uniforms that have gone “missing” over the past few months since we have nothing to give to the handfuls of new students we keep hiring.  Shockingly, all these “missing” uniforms have turned up in the very locker rooms students and supervisors have sworn blind they’ve not been in for months.

I’m up to my elbows in paperwork finding arrest records, dating from before I was born, on microfiche, running background checks, and logging hours of training for our officers.  Goodness knows whether or not I’ll get lunch before 3 at this point!

However, that quiet time was semi-productive.  After a period of Wiki-surfing, it is now a driving ambition of my life to achieve this honor!

Can I manage this without moving to Nebraska?  Somehow I feel as though I mingle well with the august company.  Admiral C. Small Dog of the good ship HMS Guppy!

People. Problems.

“As a connoisseur of human folly, I would have thought you impatient to be savoring these delights.”
“Of some delights, sir, I believe a little goes a long way.”
– Pride and Prejudice, 1995

You may not believe it, ducklings, from all of my snarkiness and eyebrow lifting, but I really do like people.  I enjoy meeting people and making friends.  And I’m often deeply impressed at the heights human nature can climb to.  Alternatively, I’m often deeply annoyed by how low some people can sink.

My trouble is (as per usual) that I work at a police department, the nature of which means that at least 50% of the people coming through our doors are in some sort of trouble.  The other 50% have caused some sort of trouble, and so don’t help my attitude.

Believe it or not, this sort of excellence isn't required. Although laudable.

Here’s my beef.  I have discovered, through 2+ years of observation of this sort of thing, that it is extremely easy to be a fairly good person.  No, really.  It’s a piece of cake!  Don’t take what’s yours, don’t say what isn’t true, don’t go out of your way to be obnoxious, and have some sort of basic theoretical understanding that your actions affect others.  It really is that simple.  You may still get a little moody, you may still tell the occasional exaggerated story, you may still have a no-good-very-bad-day when the universe conspires against you and you lash out, but to all intents and purposes you will be a Decent Human Being.

And yet, in spite of the simplicity of this solution, there seems to be whole hordes of people incapable of being Decent Human Beings.  They are determined to be jerks.

Take for instance the late incident of a man whose daughter got into a minor car accident with a foreigner.  The daughter gave false/faulty insurance information and when the foreigner, who assumed the error was his, asked politely for the correct information, Daddy told him a series of lies about insurance in America, and ordered him not to contact his daughter again.  All to keep from reporting his daughter at fault in the accident, apparently.

Or the various attempts to hit others with their cars recently.

Or the Lothario-like attempts of seduction by married coworkers.

All entirely avoidable!  See?  Jerks.

Really? No, Really?

Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman – not the attitude of the prospect.
– W. Clement Stone

Dear Salesperson Who Thinks You Are Clever,

You’re not.  You are approximately the four hundred twenty-seventh person this week to try to get access to an administrator by claiming to be a close personal friend.  I am not quite an idiot, thank you, and I have heard every single one of the techniques you will try to get around me.

“He’ll see me, he asked me to come in,” you say.
I doubt that, since he’s been on vacation most of this week and plans on being out of the office for a good chunk of the next as well.

“He’s a very old friend of mine, but I don’t know how to get in touch with him,” you try next.
That’s funny.  I’ve got phone numbers, email, blogs, Facebook, googling, and any number of ways to get in touch with my “very old friends.”

“Don’t you know who I am?!” you cry in desperation.
No.  And since it’s my job to most relevant people, that ought to tell you something.

See, Small Dog may be a minor secretary way down on the totem pole, but she’s good at her job.  And it would take a far cleverer salesman than you to get past the gates.  You may leave your card and contact information like everybody else.

Have a nice day.

– C.