I wish I could remember the funny thing that popped in my head the other day. It was mid-morning, and just as I was exiting the subway, I thought of it.

Haha! I laugh to myself. This is brilliant! I should write this down! Does anyone have a pen? There are briefcases and purses all around me. They ought to be filled with dozens of pens. Hundreds, even. Too bad I don’t have a tape recorder on me. This shit is hilarious!

Unfortunately, I’ve never once carried a tape recorder on me. Instead, I keep replaying the joke in my head, all twelve blocks to the office. I repeat it, each time in a different accent. Keep it alive! Keep it funny! Tell the joke in a Jamaican accent. Or a British one! Or better yet, use your infamous British-Aussie, or ‘Aussish’ fusion accent that works so well  in  pub crowds. That will be fucking hysterical!

Tears are spilling down my cheek, that’s how hard I’ve been laugh out loud’ing since I exited the subway, some twelve blocks back. I am smiling ear to ear with that big, awkward, cheesy smile of mine. I’ve always had too big of teeth for such a small mouth, but at times like this, it doesn’t matter. I’m jovial and happy. I’m such a joy to be around.

I step foot in the office door, and everything changes. The sun escapes from the sky, and is replaced by its darker, evil nemesis: the cloud. My smile is stunted, and that funny joke I had in my head just a moment ago, that fucking hysterical joke, is now gone. Totally forgotten. Even if I tried to remember it, I wouldn’t be able to. And I do try, at least twice, to remember. It’s gone.

My smile has altogether faded. There are still remnants of lines on my face, though there’s nothing to indicate that they are from laughing. In fact, they could just as easily be frown-formed. Too much frowning, perhaps. Is there a difference between a laugh line and frown line? The office, by its very nature, determines that question to be invalid, or otherwise unworthy of attention. Abort philosophical quandaries immediately.

I made up a slogan the other day at work. Anytime I hear the girls laughing-there are only two other girls in the whole place, both of whom are administrative assistants-I yell (quietly, because we’re in an office), “Too much clownin’, not enough frownin’!” The girls laugh at me, nervously. “You’re crazy, Smaps,” they say in near perfect unison. I join their laughter. The three of us, together, have a lot of fun.

When I’m not clowning (or frowning) around, I’m working. I file, schedule appointments, The board room is already booked, better luck next time, Buster!, stock the refrigerator, refill supplies, and wipe down tables, You wouldn’t believe how many fingerprints there were on the glass today. It was amazing! Disgusting, really, but amazing, too! I check the fax machine for faxes, The fax hasn’t arrived yet, Boss! I’ll let you know as soon as I get word!, and I refill the paper tray in the copier. I perform all of these tasks with expert precision. Within a mere few weeks, I’m learning so many new things, so many new, wonderful things!, and my behavior is exceptional. So exceptional in fact, that, recently, I was rewarded with extra work.

“I couldn’t help but notice how efficient you were processing the snack order,” McDougal, my tall, bald-headed colleague, says to me. Holy shit, he noticed!

“If it wouldn’t be too much trouble, I was thinking you could start coordinating some of the employees’ travel.” My eyes tear up at the thought. Me! He wants me to start booking travel? Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my GOD! Don’t screw this up, Smaps. This could be your big break…

“It wouldn’t be anything too serious,” he continues, “just a bit of the domestic travel for some of the associates. Our company’s travel agent actually handles all the booking. You would just be in charge of asking the associate’s for their preferred travel times and hotel locations.”

Oh, snap! My eyes and nose are watering, slowly, cautiously, each canal saturating itself at the thought of the other. Don’t screw this up, damnit! He wants you! He’s telling you he thinks you’re capable, and God willing, you should be the woman for the job! Ten seconds pass. Fucking say something, already! He’s going to think you’re not interested!

“So….what do you think? Are you interested?” Finally, he speaks. It’s a question, requiring a yes or no response. Am I in, or am I out?

“Great!” I reply, too loudly. Way too loudly. “I mean,” I pause, “I think this might be something of interest to me.” Dear God, I sound like a cover letter.

He laughs. “Something of interest,” he repeats me, line for line, “Well, good, then. I’m glad you’re interested.” I smile. This guy’s mocking you, and you can’t do a single thing about it! “We can talk more about it later, but I just wanted to give you the heads up.”

“Well, consider the heads up, then!” I shout. Also too loudly. Consider the heads up? What the fuck am I saying? Who says that?

He laughs again, and backs away from me. “Okay,” he mumbles. He’s feeling awkward. I’ve made him feel awkward, or maybe he made me feel awkward first. At this point, it’s difficult to tell, to place blame. It could be argued that he started it, as he’s the one who approached me in the first place. I was the one sitting; quietly, diligently, alone, at my desk. I was the one playing Minesweeper at my desk when he came over and interrupted me. And he did have something in his teeth the entire time. I think it was a piece of lettuce or something; he’s always eating those nine dollar, pre-packaged salads for lunch. Yeah, come to think of it, that piece of lettuce made everything awkward from the start.

But to be fair, I didn’t leave him a comfortable out. What with my random bursts of Great! and Heads up!, maybe he regretted offering up the extra responsibilities, the chance at travel!, by the end of the conversation. Whatever. It’s done. I am officially coordinating travel for the associates. This gig is sweeter by the day!


4 thoughts on “Secretary Secrets

  1. Katelyn,
    As I sit at here at my receptionists desk, I can’t help but laugh out loud! You writing reminds of David Sedaris–just saying. Hang with the job for a year and you’ll have a book on your hands!

    Peace out smaps! (hmmm, not sure if I can pull it off)

  2. Oh Smaps… isn’t it great?

    I haven’t had the exact position but I have and do have an eerily similar perspective. must be the blood relation. If you want more chicks check out health administrative, ladies galore!

    keep writing, it’s spectacular.

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