#199 That secretary who actually runs things around here

There’s always one.

It’s the lady who’s been there since the war with glasses perched on her nose and the framed photo of her kids from twenty years ago on her desk. Sure, she might have gray hair, she might have wrinkles, but nobody’s better at keeping this place together.

First of all, she’s mind-spinningly fast when it comes to simple tasks that trip people up like double-sided photocopying while filling the legal-sized paper tray or figuring out which key belongs to this stupid locked filing cabinet.

She keeps the top brass organized so well that it usually becomes a joke with lines like: “We’d be lost without Cindy!”, “Sam runs this place!”, or “If Barb goes on vacation, it would be chaos!”

These lines are usually funny until Barb goes on vacation. And it is chaos. That’s when the lunch meeting has no lunch, there’s no laptop for the big presentation, and the expense reports don’t get filed because a haystack of crinkly receipts are just piling up on her desk.

Now apparently the origin of secretary comes from our great-grandpals in the 1300s who referred to them as “one trusted with private or secret matters.” These days not much has changed as they’re often the only ones with access to the goods to get things done.

Today we say thanks to that secretary who actually runs things around here.

You make our school, and office, and life


Photos from: here and here

38 thoughts on “#199 That secretary who actually runs things around here

    1. I sort of have that. I’m a graphic designer at a print shop. While there are lots of things that can happen without me, there’s a lot that CAN’T happen without me. The job security is nice, but I feel really guilty every time I take a day off.

  1. Oh man, this is so true. My school has two secretaries and the school would FALL APART without them. It almost has. People are out of control when they get wind of an absent secretary. Thank goodness for wonderful secretaries everywhere!

      1. Thank you for your comment and trust me- the glitch was here- all my stupid fault and this is what I said:
        Who’d agree, appears to be, a desk so clear and clutter-free…why, there’s even a reflection of the flowers and she…prey-tell, what can her secret be? And who was it to actually say, computers were going to save paper trails, for the tomorrows of today???
        Either way,it’s a very big job, whether entrusted to a Barb or a Bob!!! Nice of you to take note and appreciate. Now I can tell it’s getting late. ttfn.

  2. I was once one of those said Secretaries, and things did literally fall apart when I would go away on holidays! I would have to do the equivalent work before going away on holiday just to make sure it wouldn’t die without me there.

    We tend to call these said Secretaries “The Boss”, as they know more about how things work in the whole office than the actual Boss.

    I now work for my husband part time, and our “Boss” know more than my husband about his own office! I find that quite funny :)

    Thank you for celebrating us, just a little bit Awesome ;)

  3. What would the big boss guys do without her??
    There’s one here, she’s more of an assistant to the ex president of the bank. He’s in his 70’s and needs to retire. He’s super forgetful and doesn’t even have a computer at his desk. If it wasn’t her Janet, he would be lost. His son works here too and we all keep saying that he needs a ‘Janet’ too.

  4. Do you see what I see…a desk that’s clear and clutter-free? This secretary holds the key, reflections of the mystery…said, “Computers will save our planets trees; the world will be virtually paper-free!” debris the past; it’s history…at least that’s how we were told it would be.

    *Whatever the office… Cindy, Barb, Ted or Bob,
    ‘Tis stellar to credit those who take pride in this very complex job!
    Thank You!=D

  5. We had one of these superhero secretaries at my elementary school. She’d been there for longer than anyone could remember, was the only person who knew every student by name, could sort out any problem, and was always there to give you a bandaid. We were all shocked and horrified when we found out she was retiring. We had a goodbye assembly where we all celebrated the many perks of Mrs. Perks.

    1. We also had one of those secretaries in my elementary school she was so popular that she had her own parking spot and on her birthday we had an assembly to celebrate her! She knew all the students names, their families, and could fix any situation!!!

  6. So funny.
    My grandmother had to return to work at the age of 56 after 20 years at home, after my grandfather died suddenly. She ended up becoming the receptionist of a community college and was always taking on extra “tasks as assigned”.
    When she retired, they had to hire two people to replace her — no one could figure out how she’d been getting through the piles of work in addition to running the huge, 1980s switchboard.

  7. Soooo true. We had one in our organization, she was the hub and walking knowledge base of our organization. So a big Hooray for the secretaries.

  8. “Do you want to speak to the man in charge or the woman who knows what’s going on?” was actually posted in the high school office, among other places I’ve spotted it.

  9. I am wondering what Neil did at his office job to necessitate this shout-out to secretaries. heh heh

  10. I dye the grey hair and the photos are more recent, but otherwise you’ve just described me!

    Thanks for acknowledging those of us who are largely overworked, underpaid and under appreciated (except by my CEO, who loves and adores me and buys me chocolate and alcohol.)

    Michelle – Executive Assistant to the CEO of a large Australian Not-For-Profit organisation, Fount of all Organistional Wisdom, and all-round Go-To Girl

    1. Michelle, good for your boss for “getting” it!! I’m one of the “go-to girls” and it’s SO nice to have a boss who appreciates and understands that he doesn’t even understand all that you do. Things just magically “happen”!

  11. Secretary? Secretary? Secretary? What’s that????? I haven’t heard that one in about 20 years. How about this one: Administrative Assistant. AND—get this: “She” isn’t always a “she” — “She” is sometimes a “he.” The best “secretary” I ever had was my executive assistant — a “he.” How about this: The PERSON that actually runs things around here (office). Now that would be: AWESOME

    1. Thank you! I was thinking the same thing. :) I’m an assistant and I HATE being called a secretary. So retro.

      1. Did you understand the message? Did you understand the message? Did you understand the message? Or miss the point entirely???!!!
        Last time I checked, this was Neil Pasricha’s site and really thoughtfully written universally.

  12. This Is so true! I work in a very busy healthcare facility and our secretary holds down the phones/front office like a pro. She knows what is happening daily, answers all the phones, and deals with stressed out individuals! I think any office would collapse without a great secretary!!

  13. I was just thinking I always try to remember the staff at certain offices, with sweets, flowering plants; a thank you note; Salmon during fishing season and so on, then decided to ask google and here’s what I read:
    There is actually a National dedicated WEEK~ celebrated since 1952!
    But I still imagine I’ll remember them year round, similar to acting like Christmas or New Years all the time…I mean, why not spread the love out…lift spirits up when they least expect/suspect it!

  14. I don’t mind being called a secretary one bit. It’s who I am. It’s what I do. There’s nothing retro about it! I’ve always thought that someone who insists upon being called an “administrative assistant” sounds like someone who feels like the title of “secretary” is beneath him/her. If it’s what you do, own it, and be the best one there is!

  15. There is a joke from way back…do you want to speak to the boss, or the woman who knows what’s going on around here?

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