Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hey, thanks for your help

Speaking of work, today a secretary copped some major attitude with me for no reason at all. Since my assistant was out, I went to ask her to turn some documents into PDFs for me, since she works with the associate I was helping. Being the polite, professional, chivalrous dude that I am, I said, "Could you please help me? If you could turn these into PDF's and send them to me, that would be great." Note the use of "please," as well as that weird past imperfect subjunctive -- that was not accidental. This is my go-to grammatical construction to ask people to do things without sounding like a jerk about it. Feel free to try it, it will probably work.

In response to my request, she glared up at me and said, "Don't you have your own secretary?" Oh, snap. No, you did not. Being the unfailingly polite dude that I am, I sort of backed down, hemming and hawing about how I could do it myself. "No, give it to me," she sighed, and I gave it to her. Then I backed away meekly and returned to my office.

I sat in my chair for a minute and thought about what happened. And then I realized, this secretary is not older than me -- she is my age. And excuse me, but I thought one of the general ground rules around here was that if you're going to treat me like crap, you need to be significantly older than me. Filled with righteous indignation, and with a solid plan in my head (no more polite questions - only statements), I went back to her. No more Mr. Nice Past Imperfect Subjunctive Guy.

I said, "please give me the documents back." She was getting up and she said, "No, I'm making the copies now." She started walking towards the copy room. I followed her, saying, "No, give me the documents." She said, "No, no, I'm doing it." I said, "No, stop, give me the documents, I need them." I was looking for someone else in the hallway to make eye contact and share my facial expressions with, since I was almost yelling at this point, or at least someone who could maybe pin her arms back so I could retrieve the stupid documents.

Finally she relented and gave me my papers, and then I asked another secretary to help me, and she did so in a completely courteous and thorough way. It took her about ten minutes to do the job. I told a secretary friend of mine about this little fiasco, and she gasped and said, "But you're an attorney!" Yes, I am. But I never even thought about it like that -- I was more focused on the fact that this chick was my own age and was treating me like crap, and this time, for once, being the hierarchical and authority-fearing dude that I am, I didn't have to sit back and take it. But it was a pretty hollow victory, let's keep it real. My major triumph was that I got my papers back and didn't let her make my PDF's! Ha!

Why the face!? What is wrong with people?

1 comment:

SMS said...

This kind of stuff used to make my blood boil. You should let Ms. C know what happened.. sometimes she is looking/collecting reasons to get rid of someone and she needs all the help she can gather. If she did it to you then I am sure she has done that to others... I would have made your PDF with a big smile and perhaps a clever jab.