I hate secretaries. Actually, I must qualify that - I hate
secretaries who try to make you feel like a piece of dog dirt they
encountered on their way to town from Guildford.
You phone up a switchboard and ask to speak to an agency boss. Instead
of some friendly voice announcing ’so and so’s office’, you get names
like ’Karen’, ’Claire’ or ’Alison’ barked down the phone at you. And
that’s when your problems begin.
Asking to go through to ’so and so’ is clearly an insult to the modern
secretary. And not wanting to tell her what you are ringing so and so
about is clearly like spitting on the grave of the average secretary’s
mother. If you’re lucky you’ll get a coaxing - ’it’s all right, you can
tell me’. But in those frequent cases when you know it’s not all right
and you can’t tell her, prepare for a clipped ’well, I’ll see if so and
so has time to call you back’. Prepare never to speak to so and so
And on those occassions when you know you will have to tell them what
you’re ringing about, the nosiest of PAs will attempt to answer your
query on behalf of their bosses. They fully expect you to treat their
answer as if it had come from the mouth of the agency chief you were
I know that bosses are not guiltless in this. They think Karen, Claire
and Alison are brilliant because they are not being interrupted by any
phone calls - but God knows what clients think when they get these
power-crazed individuals on the end of the line.