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  • Yvette Pearson

50 Things You'll Only Understand If You've Been A PA

  1. You'll be expected to know the timetable of every mode of public transport in every city of the world, and have the ability to influence it when your Exec happens to be there

  2. You will wonder to yourself, at least once a day, how certain members of your team manage to dress themselves each morning

  3. That urgent phone call on a Friday evening from your Exec saying that they absolutely must be on that packed flight from Heathrow to Tokyo on Sunday night for the most urgent of urgent meetings on Monday

  4. Followed by that call on a Sunday morning asking you to cancel the trip

  5. Every one of us has a memory of that most ridiculous job we had to do (running across London to pick up a pair of children's ballet pumps)

  6. Plus thousands of others which now seem normal compared to that one (install a doorbell - check; complain to the council because the drilling was too loud for *someone* to hear the tennis on the TV - check; request extra copies of business cards from every person Exec had ever met so that they could be filed in two separate Rolodexes - check)

  7. Organising a meeting between the other PAs in the company to discuss the Travel Management Company, and it just turning into a bitching/therapy session about everything you hate about your job

  8. Frantically scribbling notes in a meeting, only to be told "don't write that down" after your hand has started contorting with cramp

  9. Crawling under the Boardroom table to plug in the cables which have come loose, questioning your life choices, then contemplating hiding under there for half an hour, and making a note to yourself to hide some biscuits under here for the next time

  10. Crying in the toilets

  11. Having to print out and bind that 300 page document because your Exec simply MUST have a hard copy, only for them to leave it in the back of a taxi and ask you to email it to them instead

  12. When you and the other PAs all schedule your Execs to be out of the office at the same time. Cue: partaaaay

  13. Accidentally on purpose cancelling the breakfast too late so that it turns up anyway and you bask in Office Hero glory as everyone tucks into their bacon rolls and fruit pots

  14. You have learned to accept blame for all traffic jams, delayed trains and cancelled flights, and already have a Plan B, C and D in case of alien invasions or food dropped down a shirt

  15. Knowing exactly what those "private appointments" on your Exec's calendar really are

  16. What it's like to be stressed out by people complaining that the pens you bought aren't comfortable enough

  17. Being asked to sort out the Christmas party on 3rd December, and having already done it back on the 3rd January

  18. Knowing exactly to handle your 20-something colleague's request to have work drinks somewhere that serves bubble tea and sushi (smile and wave)

  19. Pretending to be interested when someone comes to you with gossip that you've known for several weeks

  20. That internal joy of your Exec's client asking you to rearrange a meeting before you had to ask them

  21. Trying to get your Exec to understand that the world really WILL end if they don't just sit down for five seconds and sign this piece of paper

  22. The pain and trauma caused by having a conversation with a colleague that you know is about to be fired but they have no idea

  23. Knowing full well that when your Exec says that they don't want the report you've just made for them, they will change their mind in a week when the CEO asks for it

  24. That Amanda Priestly's request to get that flight in the middle of a hurricane in The Devil Wears Prada is real and has happened to all of us ("what do you mean there's no direct flight from Cuba to Shanghai? Call BA and check!")

  25. That there is no way Suits is real because no-one can look as polished as Donna does when you work 16 hours a day for a crazy lawyer

  26. However, Donna = goals

  27. When you organise the company offsite and suddenly half the office decides that they have the right to a say in what's for lunch (sorry, that's PA's privileges)

  28. Looking at the job description for a new role, seeing "standard admin duties" and rolling your eyes

  29. Knowing that even though three people have declined the xmas party, they will turn up anyway and want to know why there's no place for them

  30. Getting that call when your Exec is on the way to the airport ten minutes early and wants to know if they can get on an earlier flight, even though it's still tight that they will even make the one they are currently booked on

  31. That feeling of power that you have, knowing that the company would literally fall off a cliff without you

  32. Looking at your three-year-old job description and laughing

  33. Looking at your ten-year-old job description and dying inside

  34. Knowing that "other ad-hoc tasks" can literally mean anything on the planet, including having to clean the communal shower

  35. The product codes for all the different types of printer toner

  36. That when your Exec wants a company meeting for everyone, it will take at least 15 minutes to get everyone into the same room at the same time, even with the offer of pizza

  37. The glorious feeling that you know you can remove someone's IT access or put them in the economy class with a bland meal if they piss you off one more time

  38. That even if you have tested the VC equipment three times before the Board meeting, it will STILL break half way through and you'll be forced under that bloody table right in the middle of it to plug something back in

  39. Knowing that a company away day will ALWAYS result in someone missing the train back to the office the next day and convincing yourself that they are an adult and therefore not your responsibility

  40. What it's like to have to go to the restaurant where your Exec is having lunch and drag him back for his meeting with the Diplomat who has arrived and has been waiting 15 minutes. Then making the strongest coffee that anyone has ever made in the history of coffee and Googling "how much coffee can kill someone" before feeling comfortable that it's safe to give to him

  41. The fact that it really can take a whole day to do one expense claim!

  42. That your Exec could have a complete meltdown about literally anything, including not being able to open a box, or the fact that Pizza Express have changed their menu, and you have to sit there and listen and pretend that they are being reasonable

  43. That you will get requests in the middle of December to send corporate branded gifts and cards to all your clients

  44. That horrible feeling when your company wins an award, you are missed off of the celebratory social media posts, even though you were the one who nominated the company for it and filled out all of the forms. And arranged all the travel and accommodation for your colleagues to attend

  45. That even if you get a promotion and everything that comes with it, you'll never ever be able to shake the responsibility of ordering the toilet paper or fixing the printer

  46. That you will have keys for all kinds of things in your drawer, have no idea what they are for, but you keep them anyway in case a mysterious new cupboard appears out of nowhere

  47. Losing your Exec and having literally no idea where they are, and that feeling of ever-increasing panic that comes with it

  48. That you are wholly responsible for the price of food in a restaurant that you have never been to

  49. That you are also responsible for the weather, currency exchange rates, and traffic in every city that your Exec will ever visit

  50. That in spite of all of this, you couldn't imagine doing anything else in the world

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Aug 27, 2021

Oh yes, and don't forget number 51 - this list is non-exhaustive.

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