I’ve started to use the plank pages that say “What’s Popping?” or “Fill me in” from the F*ck I’m in My Twenties Guided Journal as freebies. Whatever may be on my mind in that time is what is going to be written about. Today that is what it’s like to be part of the “support staff” in an office.
You know who you are. The ones who are “an integral part of the team.” Your manager likes to remind you that you too are supported and that “we’re all equal here.” But let’s be real… The only time they really give a shit about you is when you’re not there to do their job for them. If you rely on someone else to do basic yet incredibly important tasks in your career, acknowledge where you would be without their help. If you can’t even keep track of your own calendar, maybe you should thank the person who keeps track of everyone’s.
Your boss likes to pretend that there’s no clear hierarchy in the workplace. Here’s an example of the hypocrisy in my own office. We have exactly two spare offices. There also happens to be exactly two legal assistants who together assist 8 attorneys and three paralegals. Those offices are empty, but do the legal assistants get to set up camp there? Nope. We get little alcoves directly across from our attorneys so that we can respond when they scream our names. Or buzz us on the intercom. If you’re wondering who is the least respected person in your office, look at who has a door and who does not. They keep those offices empty to make a point.
I understand that there is inevitably hierarchical relationships in an office. But don’t pretend like we’re all equal and we’re all a part of the team if we’re not. Here’s another example for you. I am told that if X doesn’t happen after three times then to go to person Y and they will take care of it. Well yesterday, that’s exactly what happened, and person Y said they couldn’t deal with it just yet, that it was still in my control. Now if I told person Y that I would do something at a certain point, and then did not in fact do that, I would be scolded by 4 different people. But person Y doesn’t have to own up to their responsibilities or follow through with what they say, despite being “higher up” than I am.
They like to tell us to go from point A to point D and assume that we know points B and C. Of course, if we ask them about points B and C, we are wasting their time with silly questions and we should have paid attention the first time they spoke to us. So we figure out points B and C as best we can and somehow make it to point D. Yet again, if we did points B and C incorrectly, four different people will tell us about it and how we should have known better. “But you didn’t give me any instructions…” Nope. We don’t get to have reasons or tell our side of the story; we should have known. Plain and simple.
Sure, I can find the phone number for that one guy, it’s on the same document that you’re looking at but let me drop what I’m doing to show you that.
Sure, I can put out the fires that you started, after I told you that whatever it was you were about to do was likely to cause a fire.
Sure, I can stop eating my lunch to talk to you about something I know nothing about. Why don’t I know anything about it? It can’t be because you are a poor communicator; that’s impossible. I’ll knock on your door while you’re eating to ask you what to do about… Oh what? You can’t be disturbed? My profound apologies.
Sure, I’ll do the hour long task you gave me right at 5:45, despite the fact that you came in for only a half day and sat on Facebook looking at leggy, girls all day long.
Sure, I’ll cut my lunch short. I was the half an hour early this morning answering all the emails you simply couldn’t be bothered with.
So for all of you support staff with no support from the rest of the staff, I support you. I know you. I appreciate you. Without you they would be lost, and I understand that. You would never admit to saying that you are above this job, so I will do it for you. You are above this job. Don’t let it define you.
You’re probably smarter than most of them anyways.