The Elegant Lady Secretary!
I was reading this article, as below: –
The Most Important Lesson (Author unknown): – During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: “what is the first name of the woman who cleans the school? Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name?
I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade. “Absolutely, “said the professor. “In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say ‘hello’.” I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy…
The question I want to ask many of you peer Head of Departments, Section Heads, Line Managers and so on – how many of you really appreciate that smart elegant lady in that office of yours who ties up all loose ends, maintains peace, security and sanity in the Offices, keep things going and running when others have just given up and are contemplating suicide and or to abandon ship? How many of us, truthfully and honestly speaking? Still not sure whom am I talking about?
Who else but that elegant smart intelligent lady secretary to you? (Left other adjectives, which I felt like adding, lest some irate husbands and fiancées call me up for an appointment in the gardens or car parks late at night!) You see since childhood one of my solutions in dealings with aggressive peoples was just to run away! Chicken I hear you say? What better than to be a live chicken than a fried up one!
Anyway back to the topic (you will forgive me I have this irritating and annoying habit of just wandering off!). So I make a telephone call one day to this smart elegant lady. She is coughing and coughing and feeling very sickish. I ask her ‘why don’t you just go home? She replies – ‘I wish I could, the boss is not here, and who will take care of the office if I am not around? Then I retort ‘but you are sick, aren’t you M? ‘I know’, she replies,’ but I just have to be here, there is no other way. Besides only 2 hours to go, and I shall then rest at home’.
And then she apologises profusely. Please forgive us as (note – us!), this thing should have been done since two weeks back, I apologise for the Company. ‘But it is not your fault or final responsibility’, I almost plead with her, ‘it is the other Department that should have completed the task’. ‘No’, she says, ‘it is still my responsibility to see and follow-up. Please forgive me. I shall see it is done. Do not worry, so long as I am here, I shall ensure it is done fast too!’ – She ends up. I feel guilty. Why did I call her to find out? This lady is great. I tell her ‘thank you’, she politely replies, ‘you at least made my day! I was feeling so sickish and ill, and then you called to cheer me up! ‘No do not give me that credit, ‘actually I called to complain. ‘No’, you were very polite and understanding – no problem at all. Thanks for your understanding and patience!
Now if you have such an ethical and profession secretary like this – who holds herself as so responsible for everything’ (when some are not in her scope or responsibilities), would a boss complain? I think not. But then the boss is also a first class gentleman, kind and helpful too – but not writing about him for now at least! One time I tease her – how come you have this name (which is synonymous to one famous car!). She replies jokingly – ‘why you do not like the name? I think it is a nice name!’
I never learn my lesson, one time I teased another Secretary another place – and she replied me very aggressively and rudely too. To top it up, she still complained to her boss about me. That boss sure told my boss too, and I got the ‘firing that I deserved’. Just for a joke and tease only? But not this lady – she takes everything in stride. Perhaps she has heard it often and has learnt to cope and handle such cases. Emanating from some of us, we can be very intrusive and very personal sometimes – and crude too. Strangely we do it all whilst still sober! What would we be capable of doing when not? Think about that for a moment!
Sometime later I call her – to follow up the same issue. Again she apologises for someone else. This time I am less polite – I say why do you apologise for someone else’s mistake’. Her answers discern me – because I am an employee of the Company, and we are all responsible if things go wrong and do not work out. Can you continue to be annoyed after that? I am now the one who is saying sorry – forgive me – and I put the phone down sheepishly.
So Bosses – how many times have you really sat up and appreciated that Secretary of yours? The one who is your scapegoat and one to blame when you know she specifically told you and reminded you of the appointment, which you in your hurry and rush forget all about? Then in front of the ‘clients’ you needed a scapegoat, and say ‘why did you not remind me? Guess what M will say? ‘Sorry Sir, my mistake please forgive me. Guess what others will say? Take your pick of words of adjectives (English language is full of them). Of course some will be said in front of you, in front of your ‘great clients’, and some under the breathe, and some surely when with friends!! I have personally seen bosses abused scolded by unprofessional secretaries – in front of customers and clients too!
For lady M, though disappointed, no doubt, that the thing has still not gone through to date, and this column of today is dedicated to you. Just like I promised you! Thank you for being such a professional, ethical, understanding, co-operative etc First Class Secretary. Your boss must be proud of you! For sure if I were, I would certainly be! And that BTL, how come you are not driving the car under your own name? Keep smiling! (As I am sure your are!)
After having written this article, I had called M. This was the only time I got back a depressed voice emanating from her. I asked her what was the matter. She sadly replied that her sister back home inIndiawas involved in an accident. Though there were casualties, her sister was injured. I tried to give her consoling and comforting words for a change. She was happy that her sister was alive, but still seemed to be concerned on the others serious cases too. That is M for you!
From the book Short Takes – Between Us Only! By Majid Al Suleimany Article 24th September 2003.