Confessions of a PA (part 1)

FILM THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8UhzJUaLcg

In my ripe old age of 24 (I’m kidding) I’ve had a lot of experience in a lot of different positions. I’m pretty much the job slut who likes to find out the secrets of her different employments for no reason other than my pure enjoyment and also because hands up to how many people want to know the secret to a kebab? I know a lot of you put your hand out and here it is… you don’t want to know. I know, and I know you don’t want that mystery exposed to your kebab loving head.

Out of all my jobs and positions I’ve been lucky enough to experience, I would say being a PA sucked most of all.

I know, shock that I consider being a PA worse than being covered in grease or even poop. But honestly for me it was.

Being a PA was so much more than getting up at an ungodly hour, making sure that you not only wore an attractive outfit but that your hair, nails, and face was done up like you were going to a fancy party. No matter what leaps and bounds we have come from pre-historic ages, no matter what advances women have made or what feminists have campaigned for, the truth is that the world of PA’s is still very sexists, most of us are women still being controlled by ‘the man’ and if you don’t have some kind of attractive feature, hell you won’t last. Isn’t that just so sad?

Being a PA can lead to a varying degree of success in life. I know people who have gone on to very amazing and successful careers, whilst others I know have been broken down to a shred of an existence.

I never saw being a PA as a career, more a career move. A strategy that I thought would get me to where I wanted to be. It wasn’t until I was already in the position that I was given some horrible but totally life altering advice…don’t be a PA for a horrible company. You only choose to be a PA if that’s your end game, if that’s what you want to be for the rest of your life because it leads nowhere, unless you have a manager who wants more for you and will help you get further.

I did not, not for any of my PA experience.

I had one manager who barely learned my name. Barely said goodbye when I was eventually let go.

Being a PA I was subjected to the most bizarre work and I actually enjoyed learning so much about the ins and outs of CEO’s and Managing Directors. It’s funny to think that whilst ultimately they are human beings, they are actually far from the average Joe.

My daily routine was pretty similar for my various jobs, I was a glorified pencil pusher, coffee maker, lunch getter etc. You know the things you and I would have to find the time to do in amongst all our other jobs, except my job was to do that as well as my daily tasks.

There’s something un-dignifying as having to spend 5 hours looking for a particular type of wine, and finally finding it, only to be told that that 5 hours was wasted because your boss had already sent their housekeeper to buy some.

Ridiculous requests were plentiful at work. Whilst I wanted desperately to learn more about the company, to teach me more about things I didn’t know before, instead I had to work out the best gyms, distances to the home, the best deals for washing machines. Things that had no relation whatsoever about work.

One particularly taxing task I had to do was to research on window tinting. My boss had just purchased a brand new car, you know, to add to the collection of cars he did not drive. He insisted he wanted to have the same tint as he had with his other cars. The thing is in the UK (I’m unsure if it’s the same for other cars) but front window tints have a maximum of 70%. They have to be at a minimum of 70% clear in order to be legal. My boss had his front windows at 35%. This is not legal. I mean not, lock him in prison illegal, but enough to be stopped by the police and fined if he’s caught. He insisted that it was legal and told me to spend my day researching this (you know, whilst doing the stack of paper work and daily tasks I had to do that day) I did research, spending hours of my life researching. It was illegal no matter what I googled or who I contacted. He then wanted me to find the best place to get his windows tinted. I found 2 pages worth of places and highlighted the places I thought was best, price, material, time, and location considered. He was not happy with this and told me to find the place that would tell us that it was a legal tint. No-one would tell me this, but eventually I found a place that would say it was legal, and when I happily returned to my boss with this finding he had decided he couldn’t trust a garage who lied therefore my search would have to continue. Next the tint he had previously he was advised was 35% light tint, now no other garages in the area called 35% by this name, the old garage (no longer in existence) was the only place. He requested that I search for another garage who called it the same, even though I had already advised him the name was irrelevant as long as we had the correct tint percentage. He wasn’t pleased and insisted that I ‘do my job right’. So like a miracle worker I found a place that agreed to call that tint by that name. I returned hoping this window tinting fiasco was over. But no, it was not. He decided he didn’t trust the low price of the service and therefore wanted something more expensive. In the end, we circled back and took the car in question to the retailer where they were unfortunately given the task of completing the long list of demands my boss had. After many apologies and much sympathy from the employees I was finally able to relax knowing that they understood what I had to go through.

Being a PA is not in the least bit easy. The different offices I worked in, I felt like the one thing they all had in common was their treatment of the PA’s. Is it just me or do PA’s get treated like servants in work places. I was lucky if someone learned my actually name, or talked to me for any other reason than they wanted me to do work for them.

The amazing thing is as a PA you get to talk to a wide range of people at all levels, there should be so much you get to learn but surprisingly I never could learn much about anything. I was always so busy making coffees, setting up meetings, arranging boardrooms, running errands for my boss, researching something completely stupid.

My question is, why do people choose to be PAs. I don’t want the regular answer like because they need money and a job, I want to know what makes people actually want to be a PA, forever. Like I’ve seen they have courses made specifically for people wanting to live that PA life.

At the moment I’m putting together my PA stories as well as other’s who want to share their experience with you!

If you’re interested in sharing your story too, comment below and let me know, I’d love to make this short story compilation, an actual reality!

Stay tuned for Confessions of a PA part 2, where I talk about spilling coffee all over myself, getting told off for brushing against something sharp and laddering my tights and many more stories that will make you glad you have your safe job.

Always remember…

Do something to make your parents proud today, your kids proud someday but most importantly, you proud every day!

Peace and Love

Jessy x

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