4th September 2015
Bank holiday in Brighton with Charlie was an easy dreamy amazing little get-away – I came back feeling thoroughly spoilt and dangerously loved up. What happened to that earnest little Receptionist who started out at the beginning of the year, determined to avoid any office entanglements? I’ve got it bad, it takes all my will power not to pop him a sly little email every half hour, or not to dash into the kitchen after him when I see him headed in that direction! And I’m becoming one of those annoying idiots who crow-bars their boy into conversation at every opportunity: ‘Oh Charlie said the funniest thing today..’; ‘Oh really, that’s so interesting that you had such a delicious beetroot salad, you know who loves watermelon – Charlie…’ – my friends are constantly taking the piss, but I just can’t help it, and I just don’t care – I’m smitten.
The thing that is really worrying me about this relationship though is the whole work dynamic. I have sought advice from a mix of people – basically anyone who will listen, including Fran, my hairdresser, the man who came to check our water meter – and common consensus is that it is a TERRIBLE idea to sh*t where you eat. Only post Brighton – post padding around the hotel room in Charlie’s shirt, munching on pastries and pretending to read the Sunday Times while trying not to get caught gazing at that devastatingly handsome face – I’m in far too deep to get out. I’m so proud of how quickly I have progressed in the year at work; taking on more and more duties until I won the title of PA (admittedly based on Reception still, but my career is definitely going the right way), and I just don’t want to jeopardise that for anything in the world.
It’s obviously way too soon in our dating to start offloading these concerns on Charlie himself (nobody wants a Naz on their hands), but we seem to have an unspoken agreement to keep whatever is happening between us a secret. I am paranoid about anyone in the office finding out. I worry that subtlety has never been my forte, and that it is only a matter of time before someone cottons on. I freaked out when Pricilla spied a perfume bottle poking out of Charlie’s bag earlier this week – I instantly recognised it as mine, I had bundled it into Charlie’s holdall by accident on the way back from Brighton, but Priscilla, ever interested in Charlie’s love life relished asking him all about the mystery woman in his life as my cheeks flamed away in embarrassment by her side. When we bumped into some of the client services guys last Friday as we were having a quick drink, I made Charlie dive into the gents before they saw him and wouldn’t let the poor boy leave until they were all safely positioned in a booth at the other end of the bar.
This is my first clandestine relationship and I’m definitely not poised enough to carry it off, but Charlie’s internship is coming to an end in a few weeks so just wish me luck keeping it under wraps until then…
11th September 2015
Can you actually believe it, that Indian summer they promised us in the darkest depths of rainy August is actually here?! It’s a little last flash chance to wear the summer wardrobe out of the house and the temptation of that was all too much for me – I sprinted out into the sunshine this morning full of Friday feeling in a little pair of tailored shorts – one last chance to show off my Crete tan, I thought, especially for Charlie…
Only that’s where I went so wrong – I shouldn’t be dressing for Charlie, I should be dressing for a Mayfair hedge fund. Focus Lucy – this boy is messing with your mind. I arrived to a cursory up-down glance from Priscilla and that was honestly the first moment it occurred to me that my shorts might be too short. Next came a primly arched eyebrow and only the briefest good morning as I scuttled to hide my legs behind my desk. I felt like an absolute div – who does that? Who rocks up to their professional office job in bum-skimming hot pants? I know this sounds so lame, but I just hate disappointing Priscilla. I know she’s really taken me under her wing and I want her to be proud of me, not disapproving or feeling let down.
Priscilla came over to the desk and we had the most awkward conversation. She reminded me that there were some significant investors coming into the office today, and as I was likely to be bringing them teas and coffees, did I think I would feel comfortable doing it in my current attire?
I decided I definitely would not, and shook my head apologetically.
‘Well’ continued Priscilla, ‘we’ve got so much on today I don’t think either of us will be having a lunchbreak for you to change, but I do have a spare work skirt in my drawer – it might be a little large for you, but you could use your belt to tie it in? I’ll get it, you can borrow it’
Cut to 2pm this afternoon and I’m sitting in Priscilla’s stifling hot and heavy brown, wool, calf-length skirt. I look an absolute state – the skirt was made for a 60 year old; it is the least sexy item of clothing I have ever worn. It clashes hideously with the blue blouse I had been wearing with my shorts and it is totally swamping me! That is the last time I take any chances with my office wardrobe, I’ve more than paid for my mistake and I think this oven of a skirt is actually giving me a heat rash!
An email just flashed up from Charlie: ‘lovely skirt darling, you should borrow clothes from Priscilla more often.’
18th September 2015
‘In 20 years’ time there’s a 68% chance we’ll have a robot doing your job instead of you’
Not Priscilla’s friendliest morning greeting.
I think Priscilla and I have a pretty good relationship these days, I don’t think this is something she is longing for any more than I am, but her matter-of-fact delivery of this news still unnerved me. She had plugged ‘Personal Assistant’ into the BBC’s online article ‘Will a Robot Take Your Job?’ and had discovered that there is a very good chance that we PAs could be out of a career in the near future. Obviously I don’t want to be doing this exact job in 20 years’ time, but I do want to be a more senior Executive Assistant, so to think this role may no longer exist is more than a little worrying! My parents are always telling me I have to plan for my future like they did, but they don’t understand the current challenges we’re facing: Guildford in 1989 wasn't under threat from a wave of animatronic accountants!
Despite that, I’ve been trying to prove my worth with all my flesh and my blood, my human capacity for interaction, empathy and problem solving. Hoping for just a little dash of encouragement I decided to ask the three guys I support whether they would prefer a robot to be doing my job. That was a mistake.
Nigel: ‘Well they’d be able to audio type and file 24 hours a day – that would be useful’
I should have guessed as much from the worlds’ most dedicated workaholic . I sometimes wonder if Nigel himself is a robot: something about that cold metallic stare and the fact that I've never seen him eat...
Talking to Ben and Sam about it was no more rewarding.
Ben: ‘A robot would probably be better at brewing tea’
Sam: ‘I guess not because it wouldn’t look as good as you in a mini-skirt’.
Nor would they be capable of filing a sexual harassment claim, Sam. Lovely to know that I am valued for my work ethic and skills rather than my looks. One role the BBC said had no hope of survival when I typed it in was 'chauvinist dinosaur'. It's an extinction event we are all looking forward to.
One thing I know I’ve got going for me though is that I don’t need any kind of batteries or charging (unless you count caffeine) – all three of my guys are constantly borrowing my iPhone charger as they never have their own with them. So I can sleep safe at night knowing that if I wasn’t here there would be no one to charge my robot replacement – they can’t get rid of me yet!
I need your help lovely fellow PAs, we must do a million things a day that a robot couldn’t – send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org, what can you do that a heap of metal can’t? RMS will reward the most inventive or entertaining submission with a £20 John Lewis voucher – email in your ideas to enter!
25th September 2015
Winter eugh. Rain eugh. Colds bleugh. There’s no denying it, the dark, soggy months are on their way and they’re bringing with them the coughs, the snots and the razorblade throats I am so susceptible to getting every blooming year. So begins my desperate mission to AVOID. GETTING. SICK. Trapped in a tube carriage and someone has a coughing fit? First Defence spray goes straight up the nose. Shake hands with a runny-nosed client at work? Get the anti-bac gel on. Fran’s always banging on about what a cranky old hypochondriac I am and she finds herself so bloody amusing when she’s stealing my toothbrush to use right in front of me, but it’s only sensible to take precautions right?
So obviously I have my methods in place, but I can’t believe that this year they have let me down so ridiculously early in the season. I’ve got a voice like a cheese grater and a nose like a sprinkler. Feeling horribly sorry for myself I’m wrapped up in a massive scarf, hiding my bright red nostrils from Charlie and nursing hot cups of Lemsip.
In my job description it explains that I am at a ‘brand ambassador’ for the firm: I will be representing the business and maintaining their high standards in my appearance and behaviour at all times. Clearly I am letting the side massively down right now, but how can I avoid getting sick in a front of house position, meeting and greeting potentially sickly people all day long? Just trying to determine whether or not it’s polite to ask clients to apply anti-bac gel before entering the building? ‘Excuse me Sir, but could you sterilise yourself before shaking my hand?’ It’s not going to fly is it…
You know what I keep thinking as I chuck another soggy tissue onto the pile in the bin – this would never happen to a robot.