Rant Of The Day THIS RANT 15/04/97

Rant Of The Day is where I get to mouth off about whatever I feel like for however long I like. Theoretically, I'll update my whinge/opinion piece every weekday; in practice, maybe not so often.

How to be a top-flight secretary

The odds of my being any kind of secretary are fairly low. I hate telephones, I dress like a pig, and my desk is not exactly a tribute to good organisation. I purchased a copy of Be A Top-Flight Secretary by Barbara Wood and Malcolm Reid (Pitman, 1987) because, for $2, it sounded amusing. I was able to deduce this from the blurb on the back:

Be A Top-Flight Secretary is intended for the secretary who is ambitious and courageous enough to want to get to the top. You must finely tune all personal and secretarial attributes when aspiring to a top position. This book shows the way.

Having now read this volume from cover to cover, I can also confirm that it shows a number of other attributes, not all of which are as pleasing as its tasteful marbled-green cover. We can forgive the authors for their scant coverage of technology topics; after all, this was 1987, when you could still slip a feature article on fax machines into Good Weekend as a novelty item. But some of their other comments don't seem to be very, er, useful or sensible. Here's an annotated list:

Most likely you will decide that, because of the confidentiality and general sensitivity of the discussions, you will personally serve the coffee and biscuits at the appropriate time. (p. 4) Gee, sounds like a satisfying career choice, doesn't it?
When you have both had a hard day your boss can look fatigued and crumpled but you can't afford that luxury. (p. 7) If your boss is looking especially crumpled on a regular basis, consider investing in an industrial steam iron and press him or her at the end of each day.
Be prepared to use (or learn to use) the various functions of a microcomputer. (p. 13) Besides 'microcomputer', other outdated words include 'telex', 'gentlemen' and 'Celine Dion'.
In your boss's absence from the office, walk in and peruse the diary (p. 37) This way, when you are sacked for spying, you will have important espionage skills.
Do not go into your boss' office without pen and pad in hand. Although you may be called in on one matter, invariably you will come out with a long list of chores and an armful of paperwork. (p. 40) Of course, you could just tell him to fuck right off.
Do make sure you read everything that passes over your desk. (p. 47) This rule may be relaxed if a corpse passes over your desk.
It is, for example, very easy to turn the top paper upside down in any trays on your desk. (p. 49) Well, duh. It's also easy for anyone else to turn them back up again. It's even easy to stand on your head and say "Wibble", with a little practise.
It may not be pleasant for visitors if you greet them reeking of onion, fried chips or tuna. (p. 55) Of course, passing out from starvation won't exactly impress them either.
Include a small sewing kit. Who knows what may happen! (p. 68) MAN IMPALED ON NEEDLE IN FREAK FLYING ACCIDENT
If using company crockery and linen, check you have sufficient numbers of of matching items, for example, fifteen soup bowls. (p. 79) Every company needs fifteen soup bowls. There are no exceptions to this rule.

If anyone reading this page is a top-flight secretary and would like to contribute further to this list with actual handy tips, please let me know.

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