Straight out of high school, I became a legal secretary; I excelled at typing and stenography, so it was a natural path to choose. My first job was $3 an hour!! (I’m dating myself here, right?!!)
For the last 23 years of my corporate life, I was a legal secretary and office manager for a New York City law firm that grew to nine attorneys by the time I left in 2001. It started out with one attorney, and he hired eight more attorneys, but never hired any other secretarial or managerial help. I did all the secretarial work for this corporate class action securities litigation firm, paid all the firm’s bills, and oversaw the office. My desk didn’t look much different than this on most days, although I wasn’t QUITE this bad! Somehow, I knew where everything was, and could pull a file or document in an instant from the messes. I literally did not have one spare minute to BREATHE, let alone have time to file. I brought my lunch from home and ate at my desk (on a pile!). My boss only cared about me cranking out the work, he wasn’t concerned about my working conditions. I somehow managed to get through each day, and lived my life waiting for each Friday to end so I could relax with my family on the weekend.
The ONLY time he ever acknowledged Secretary’s Day, which later turned into Administrative Assistants’ Day, was when he had hired a temporary worker for two weeks to help with the workload because we were preparing for a big court trial. This woman was a bit crazed and overwhelmed (who wouldn’t be, right?), and she would say things like if you give me one more letter to type, I’m going to kill you. I’m sure he was afraid to let Secretary’s Day go by without showing his appreciation to her, so I actually got a piece of chocolate out of the deal! That was the first and last time.
If you’re an administrative assistant, I hope you’re being recognized for all your hard work!