Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Me vs. Mary the Secretary: Office Smackdown

For the first installment of Mary the Secretary, click here. Mary is the 50ish, plump secretary at my work.

Before we begin, I must say that I've been in multiple levels of employ. Bottom, middle and now, in command. I have a delicate understanding of the various power structures. And within each level I have thrived, because I embrace my power, no matter where I am standing.

What we are talking about here, between Mary and I, is power. A simple power struggle. Mary feels powerless and thus attempts to be my caretaker, my smother secretary. That way, she can have power over me. To which I say: good luck chick-a-dee.

It began last week with the two phone calls. And when I showed on Monday, she had re-arranged my office. Moved the chair, adjusted the monitor. She had given me three notebooks to take notes, plus two stacks of post its. All of it sitting there, squatting on my chair. She had made coffee and on and on. I shut the door. Took a deep breath.

I scooped up the notebooks and brought them to her. I firmly placed them next to her key board, as she was typing. I said, "Oh, I don't need these to take notes. Thanks though. Can you print out my list of patients today? Thanks." And cue smile.

Later at lunch . . . Mary occupied the room with stories from her personal life.

AN YAH DER HEY, SHO' NUFF, Mary has been in an abusive/codependant relationship. Told you so. And she felt the need to go on and fucking on about it during lunch. Cause girl's got issues but no dignity. I mean come on Mary, trying to eat my sub sammich here.

Mary thrives in chaos. Nothing else is comfortable. I am not comfortable with chaos. I like calm. I like balmy beaches and butterflies and the colors red and purple. I listen to people's chaos all day. They open up vast treasure troves of psychic pain. I help them heal. This is my job and I love it. So no, I don't want to eat lunch with her pain. Nor do I want a side dish of her spastic life.

Life is hard enough. I like to make mine easier at every turn possible. So here is the coup de gras that put Mary in her place.

Around one oclock that day, Mary had to unexpectedly leave. Her daughter WHO IS MY AGE THAT BEING 33 is sick. Again, her daughter is a fully functioning adult. Yet her Mom is running to her. Mary looks at me. She starts to explain who and what is ailing her daughter. AGAIN, MARY'S DAUGHTER IS MY AGE THAT BEING 33. Mary is breathless and getting a bit wild eyed. I stop listening. Then I blink a few times, still not listening to what sounds like the flu bug.


blink ......

Then I say, "Mary. Can you fax these before you go? And connect me with the maintenance guy, the temp in my office is freezing. Thanks. And I hope your daughter feels better." I say it just like that.

Mary looks stricken. Hurt even. Which is my intent. And by the way, I never, and I mean NEVER, tell people to fax things for me. Nor do I have someone patched through to my office. But I did this time. And I don't feel bad about it.

Because sometimes, the best lessons are learned through struggle, through hurt and strife. That day, Mary learned I won't tolerate the impressing her drama on my person. Because we are all grown ups at that office. Not little kids. Little kids go around, showing their boo-boos. Eventually we all learn to suffer with dignity. Then we learn how to not suffer at all.

And not ruin lunch with wild tales of an asshole ex husband. And not draw the pity of fellow coworkers.

Can't we talk about the movies we like? Or shows we love? Like Mad Men for example. Gawd I love that show. The smoking, the drinking, the debachery. And lord help me, those clothes. Those dresses, those kitten heels . . . oh lawd . . . the clothes on that show.... I get the vapors just watching.

So in the end, the battle was won. And maybe now, we can get down to business. Which is sharing office space. All while serving the greater good, to serve others. And there is no greater service than the service of others.

Now, if I could just get Mary to keep something else in her drawer for me. Something much more useful than post-its . . . ;)

12 Left a message at the beep:

Sue said...

Yay Mrs. Hall!

One two punch with no strikes - you are a master.

B.E. Earl said...

Let me just say this...


(over the pics of Christina Hendricks)

What was this post about? ;)

Mrs. Holly Hall said...

Sue: HiYA!

Earl: Oh, it doesn't matter what the hell the post was about. I mean, yes, look at her. Good lord, even I am not immune ;)

Slyde said...

i'm torn between congratulating you on winning the war of wills...

and needing a cigarette over seeing Christina Hendricks in all her sexiness...

Mrs. Holly Hall said...

Slyde: Why not do both?

dang. ya'll really like Mrs. Hendricks doncha?

Hank said...

Mrs. Hall, honey....I don't have no idea who Mrs. Hendricks is. All I can say is that Mary gal sounds like she needed that big fat dose o' reality. Good fer you.

Mrs. Holly Hall said...

Hank: Hendricks is the red head ;)

And yeah, women tend to bend and be sympathetic towards others when in need. But Mary is always in need. And I am in need of eating my sammich in peace.

So I win!


Joanna Jenkins said...

This post rocks! The Mad Men photos with the story were perfect!!!!

Glad things worked out in the end.. Too bad we can't dress like the women in the photos for work :-)


Christine said...

These are the jewels that I miss since I've left the work-o-sphere. You should go in the office in the middle of the night and rearrange her desk... then act like you have NO idea how it happened. ;)

James said...

I don't think this is over yet Mrs Hall.
Mary probably has a very thick skin. She will think that she has to work harder to make you see her need even more. Because now you are her momma. She will need your approval.

Bruce said...

I couldn't quite understand the tie in about your secretary and "Mad Men" until the very end. I empathize with your plight. Sadly, I know a lot of parents (widowed mother's mostly) that have the exact same personality disorders. Spending most of your life in a dysfunctional relationships leaves a pretty pathetic existence when all is said and done. Good luck trying to modify that. I am sure that you will be considered the 'bitch' by Mary before too long, because you won't support her drama.

On another note, the wife and I started watching Mad Men about 2 months ago on a whim, when I downloaded and two episodes of it off the internet. Needless to say, that we are hooked and we are half way through the first season DVD set I bought about 3 weeks ago. Gawd, it is a good show. The production design is so dead on accurate that it is like looking through a windows into 1961. I have to admit that I sort of miss this era. While sexist and unhealthy in the extreme, everyone knew their place, did their job and the drama was real, not made up in someones head because daddy didn't hug them enough when they were little.

Mrs. Holly Hall said...

Yah, I don't care about being considered a bitch. Because women spend SO MUCH TIME worried about offending others GAH!! I am kind and courteous and considerate but i am also self centered.



Really, it's my current obsession. It's awesome, so awesome. Helps me embrace my inner Donald Draper. Handing someone my coat in the morning, asking for them to make coffee....

Why don't secretaries do that anymore?

Oh right. That's sexist.

But is it sexist if it is ME being in charge?


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