Requiem For An Office Manager

28 Oct

It is always astonishing to me how people can be so professional and competent in their own particular lines of work – law, accounting, marketing, etc. – and then weirdly childlike when it comes to basic daily tasks that they are accustomed to relying on others for.

I’m thinking of an office manager I know, and no, she’s not my office manager.  I don’t have an office manager.  But I do frequently find myself walking in and out of her office for various professional reasons and somehow or another, I wound up on her email list, such that whenever she needs to disseminate some information throughout the whole office, I get to to be privy to it.

This is the type of office where a lot of people rent their offices, and then share conference rooms and a break room and secretarial services.  It’s a pretty efficient way to do things for very small businesses, just get yourself an office and an internet connection, and then you get billed for whatever services you use, as opposed to renting a giant office you don’t need and then paying someone to sit there in it.

When people come in to see you, there’s a nice conference room and a receptionist and the general feeling that you are much more than a single person in a room, even though that’s what you are.

Does that sound suspiciously to you like a giant dormitory, and does the office manager sound suspiciously like a house mother?  Because it should.  You wouldn’t believe the kinds of things this poor woman has to email everyone about.

Take parking for instance.  This is about the simplest concept there is – the parking places are clearly marked.

If you’re a visitor, then you are allowed to park in the (very slightly) closer Visitor parking spots.  If you are not a visitor – for instance, if you are one of the dudes renting an office – then you are not allowed to park in the Visitor spots.  I actually picked this concept up without having it explained to me more than a few times, but it’s apparently very tricky.

Try to imagine sending out your sixth email blast on the subject.  How on earth can you possibly make this any more clear without insulting everyone?  Sock puppets?

And on a side note here, I’m just trying to get my mind around the concept of giving a shit about it, too.  Like, if I saw a guy park in the Visitor spot, instead of the Non-Visitor spot six inches away, exactly what kind of full-grown hall monitor would I be if I felt like I just had to drop the dime on him?

Oh, but they do it.  I can tell by the emails.  It’s a wonder some of these folks get any work done, when they appear to be spending most of their time standing at their windows with a pair of binoculars, staking out the Visitor spots.  Who’s that parking there?  Run his plates! 

Then call this office manager up, this person who has plenty to do besides moderate adolescent He’s-Touching-Me style conflicts between grownup business people, adults who file taxes and lawsuits and do all kinds of grownup stuff.  Yes, just call her up and use a sort of bitchy, plugged-nose bird voice and make sure to work the word “ridiculous” in a few times, while describing the absolute highway robbery going on, with regards to Visitor parking spots.

You should have seen the emails when the microwave broke down.  These folks had to cope for a single afternoon with no microwave, and you’d have thought society was about to collapse.  Guys in suits running around with their hair hanging over their wild, crazed eyes, lurching down the hallway throwing trash cans through each other’s windows, screaming about Martian invasions.

I had to drive in there just to watch them, poking Lean Cuisines at the empty spot on the counter where the microwave used to be, making frustrated honking noises like ducks with their feet caught in something.  One guy stripped to his underpants and just sat there scrawling “No cookie lunchy microwave 2012” all over himself with a Sharpie.  I stood there wondering, is this Gotham City after the Scarecrow sprayed everyone with hallucinogens, or is this the giant stadium full of Hurricane Katrina victims?  Why has Our Lord Forsaken Us?

I don’t know guys.  I mean, really – the coffee still works.  There’s a snack bar downstairs.   Seriously, I would run down and get you a sandwich, but I’m afraid you would then rely on me to bring one to you every day, cut the crusts off for you, all that.

Similarly, the automated soap dispenser on ONE of the three sinks in the Men’s room stopped working.  There were dudes trapped in there – What do I do, I can’t wash my hands and I can’t leave without washing my hands and sure I could use one of those other two sinks but I want to use THIS one!

How on earth does one respond to this with a straight face?  Well, I’ll tell you how she does it, calmly and respectfully.  Fear not, People of This Office, she tells them.  I have contacted the Maintenance Department, and they have assured me that order will be brought from this chaos by the end of the week.  Until then, please utilize either of the other two sinks when washing your hands.

Actually the sinks all three worked fine.  It was just the soap dispenser, the kind that you wave your hand under and it gives you a splerk of foamy soap.  One man was found semi-conscious, suffering from severe dehydration, slumped over the sink, twitching as he forever waved his hand in front of the sensor, whispering, “The soap will come.  The soap will come.  Any minute now.  The soap will come.  I am the Angel of Death.  Abide as Emptiness.  Etc.”

What do you guys do at home, I’m wondering?  Is your wife doing all this stuff for you?

If so, please ask her to cut it out.  She is not doing you any favors.


Posted by on October 28, 2010 in Future Tom Grab Bag


4 responses to “Requiem For An Office Manager

  1. Jason

    October 29, 2010 at 12:45 am

    You said “splerk”

  2. Jessica

    October 29, 2010 at 1:15 pm



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