“Sitting on a File Cabinet, Naked, With a Gun”: My Thoughts on a New Collection of Admin Anecdotes

April 6, 2010
The book. A little sexier than I pictured, considering it's about a psychological breakdown and death threat.

The book. The Cover's a little sexier than what I would have pictured, considering it's depicting a psychological breakdown and resulting death threat.

When I  first discovered this book, I was crushed that someone else had gathered a collection of admin horror stories faster before me, and that it opened with a kick ass story:  a star admin has a nervous breakdown and ends up on her boss’s file cabinet…naked… you get the idea.

But as I delved a little deeper into the book, my bullshit sense started tingling.

Each chapter begins with an inspirational “POW” or “Point of Wisdom,” which is apparently a lesson to be learned from the anecdote.

 Wait a second–is this actually a motivational book?!

My unhappy suspicions were confirmed as the first chapter pounded home its conclusion: that the ideal protocol for a horrible work situation is a cup of chamomile tea and laugh with a girlfriend.


How do I find this book irritating? Let me count the ways.

  1. This book assumes that all admins are women
  2. It suggests that it’s appropriate and even a good idea for so-called professionals to congregate in the breakroom and call each other “girlfriend” 
  3. It takes for granted that admins have no interests or concerns outside of protecting and serving their bosses.

[Side note: irritating squared=the fact that the authors of this book mentor over-achieving career EAs and give lectures on how to be a better assistant. Irritating cubed=their website Planet Admin, which looks like a tampon commercial]

 Excuse me, but fuck that.

I absolutely agree that getting upset and blowing up in the office is poor decision making and likely to hurt your career and reputation in the long run. 

People, do not be fooled by the executive who has temper tantrums and is considered passionate about his job.

An admin who does that will immediately be percieved as a loose cannon and lose his or her credibility, along with the small amount of trust and respect that makes our job doable.

And while it’s great to have a sense of humor and receive support from coworkers, I find it ridiculous that a position as office manager and administrative assistant seems to presuppose accepting verbal abuse and nervous breakdowns.

Bottom Line: EAs make sure that appointments happen, that guests and callers are treated professionally and cordially, and see to it that the office hums along smoothly. None of this should make a person cry, or send anyone running to the breakroom for hug time. If it does, there’s a problem–and this book, for all of its advice, ignores that simple fact.

Aside from advice on how to cope with being treated poorly, where the hell are the seminars on how to maintain professional boundaries, acquire and market job skills as best as possible (and exploit the hell out of them on a resume for the next job), network with higher ups, manage time to make room for personal and professional endeavors?

Where’s the how-to guide on learning more and getting ahead at your admin position–so that the bullshit lasts a shorter period of time and gets you as far along your career path as possible?

Is it too much to ask that “admins” get acknowledged as entry level workers with smarts and high hopes just like anybody else, instead of Femmebots in training for a forty year career? (See my previous entry to find out how well that went for career-admin Carol Vitkay).

Oh well. I guess if one good thing comes out of this nonsense, it’s that admins are extremely underestimated.


Until next time,



One comment

  1. […] Who is this woman? Is that who I’m supposed to be? A “career admin” in training? Is it not okay to just do this for a while and want to move on to other things? Because these job postings make me feel ashamed for having career goals. (See my feelings on admin seminars here). […]

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