The Assistant’s Assistant

I’m writing this submission while still employed at MVWJ. I began this entry-level position at my company a year and half ago. At the beginning, I had a great relationship with my boss, J. When I had been employed for about eight months, J pulled me into his office and told me I had been doing a great job and asked if I was interested in more responsibilities, a title change and increased salary. The department was making some big changes and he had been approached by his boss and HR about this. I said of course! I was so thrilled that my hard work had paid off and I was moving up the company ladder. The next week K, the head of HR, came to my desk and told me I would be reporting to V from now on. My desk would be moved within a couple of days. I was in shock and asked her if she was sure and what my position would be. She replied yes, and that it was still administrative assistant, then smiled a fake smile and walked off.

The reason for my shock and dismay was that V was the executive assistant for J’s boss. I went from being an “assistant” to an “assistant to an executive assistant.” No title change, no salary increase, nothing. I was crushed. J came by and apologized profusely. He said he had no idea that HR was moving in that direction and his hands were tied. I was upset but knew it wasn’t his fault and resolved to suck it up and try to be optimistic.

 As soon as I was moved closer to V, she began her tirade. It takes about two hours for me to commute on the train to my job and J had always been very understanding about this since he commuted from far away as well. He would let me make my own schedule because he knew I always completed my work on time and was very reliable. J would even let me work from home some days as he did as well.

V did not care. She wanted me at my desk and checking in with her at precisely 8:30 every morning and not a minute later. This meant leaving my apartment at 6:15am and not returning home until 6:30pm and I was NEVER allowed to work from home. Some days I couldn’t help being late because the train would break down or be delayed. I would tell V and notify her from my phone when it happened. She wrote me up with HR and I was given a final warning. I had been on a train that struck and killed a man! I tried to explain to them that it wasn’t my fault but K (who had stuck me with V in the first place) told me to suck it up and figure it out myself. This would have been bearable had that been the only issue. V and her other friend B (who was also an executive assistant) would give me all the work they didn’t feel like doing. She sent me to pick up lunches for their bosses (which were paid with the company credit card). V would also make me file her expense reports for her boss, which she would then check and submit under her name to receive credit. She sent me passive aggressive emails marked high priority with read receipts attached.

One of my favorites went like this: 

V: “I need you to research the best and safest way to purchase American Express gift cards online for the upcoming baby shower. This is high priority.”

Me: “” 

She would shuffle past my desk to check to make sure I was working. It was obvious she was checking up on me because my desk was not on a convenient route to anywhere i.e. the kitchen, elevator, bathroom, etc. I stopped taking lunches because she treated me as if I was doing something wrong whenever I said I was going to take a break. She demanded I inform her the second I returned and would make sure I wasn’t a minute off on my time card or she’d send it back to me to fix it. I began to hate work so much that every morning I’d wake up with a stomachache at the thought of dealing with V, always worried she would throw me under the bus. I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. She had several nicknamed around the office, such as “Cruella” and “Lady of the Dark.”

After months of job searching, I finally found a new position where I will get to use my brain, not my ability to fetch lunches and make folders! Even better, it’s 10 minutes from my apartment. I almost cried from relief when they hired me. I’m going to miss J (he actually helped me get my new job by giving me a great reference) and a few other people, but I’m so happy to get out of this dead-end position. 

I told V last Friday that I would be leaving and she’s still trying to make my life hell. It’s ok, though because I’M OUTTA HERE!

Comments (33)

Karen HiebertApril 10th, 2011 at 5:41 pm

yay for happy endings…but wait. who’s going to be her biotch? :) How could your boss’ hands be tied? that’s terrible! Surely he must have had SOME pull. yuck.

A. ZeeApril 10th, 2011 at 6:27 pm

I was an administrative assistant for years… Now I’m unemployed, having decided that it was preferable to slaving away for a major league c*nt. I feel ya.

clever nameApril 10th, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Why can’t we call it a secretary anymore? Did we decided it was sexist, or demeaning, or racist or what? I think it sounds much sexier….I know there is nothing sexy about it but dammit, a girl can dream.

wiccabasketApril 11th, 2011 at 9:56 am

There’s a difference between a secretary and an admin or personal assistant. A subtle difference, but a difference nonetheless.

MeshellApril 11th, 2011 at 11:05 am

Secretaries have more greeting responsibilities, admins are a general term, and a personal assistant has a more intimate relationship with their boss. There’s also a difference in exeprience levels and pay scale.

I love doing my admin jobs, but jeez… this sounds a lot like my evil last position. I feel for you, because no matter how hard you try, there are people who are gonna hate you no matter what. Can’t stand that, but it’s a nasty reality we often deal with in the office jobs.

@CleverName – Go watch The Secretary ;)

SaffyApril 11th, 2011 at 11:43 am

the devil wears prada! glad you got out of that toxic shithole!

Just SayingApril 11th, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Devil Wears Prada… that IS my job. In fashion and that is exactly how the big boss treats people. More so when we ahve a big photoshoot or head office people coming to visit.
Its comical at times cos I do not think the people who are abusing their positions see it as such.

Not sure how many sneeze muffin’s and coffee’s have been handed over to him.

I’m glad you got out of there!

tronnerApril 11th, 2011 at 2:43 pm

and MWVJ is back with a bang!

TMSApril 11th, 2011 at 6:19 pm

There’s secretary, there’s administrative assistant and then there’s whipping boy/girl. This falls under the last one. Especially when you know that someone is going out of their way to make your life hell. Glad you got away from that evil bitch.

OPApril 11th, 2011 at 8:14 pm

OP here. So funny to see my post on MVWJ! Nice to know I’m not the only one who has gone through admin hell. @Meshell, I think you hit the nail on the head as far as differentiating secretary, admin, and personal assistant.

OPApril 11th, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Just saw your comments, TMS and Saffy. Thank you! :)

BillyApril 12th, 2011 at 8:49 am

They see me trollin’…

1. Your boss made you show up to work and on time?
2. You were an assistant to an assistant and mad about picking up lunches and filing papers?
3. Your boss made sure you didn’t take long breaks or cheated on your time card?

I guess I’m the minority here, but none of this seems unreasonable from an employer to an employee to me. You show up on time, you do your job, and you don’t steal from the company. Seems reasonable.

OPApril 12th, 2011 at 9:17 am


V? Is that you? I didn’t know you read MVWJ!!

BillyApril 12th, 2011 at 10:53 am

Lol, naw, if you were working for me and consistently showed up late to the point that I thought you might be stealing time from the company you wouldn’t still have a job to leave.

hellcatApril 12th, 2011 at 11:35 am

Yeah, I have trouble sympathizing with the “expecting me to show up on time” part. It sounds like J gave you a lot of leeway, and that’s cool, but if your company didn’t offer flex time it’s not necessarily something you’re entitled to. It would be nice if V had given you that option, but she didn’t have to. It’s not really your boss’s job to care how far you live from work – presumably that falls under the “personal problem” category.

It sounds like the rest of it was pretty legitimately shitty, though, and I’m glad you found a job closer to home. Long commutes can really suck the life right out of you, I know from experience:)

AshleyApril 12th, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Billy, did you read the story? She didn’t sign up to be an assistant’s assistant. Her company completely screwed her over and stuck her with V who made her life hell. I’m all for being on time too but she said that it was the train making her late, not that she was late because she couldn’t get her act together. There should have been some understanding there. You seem like a tool :)

@OP, I hope you’re liking the new job!

BillyApril 13th, 2011 at 7:39 am

“J pulled me into his office and told me I had been doing a great job and asked if I was interested in more responsibilities, a title change and increased salary”

Yes, I did read the story. Maybe before accepting a job change the OP should have looked into it and figured out what that meant. Her boss said, “hey wanna change jobs?” – OP replied, “Yeah! Awesome! Tubular!” The increased salary didn’t happen, but the increased responsibilities (like showing up to work, GAH!) and title change did. So 2 outta 3 ain’t bad. I personally would never accept a new position without at least knowing what the title of that position was going to be.

AdalynApril 13th, 2011 at 9:53 am

Seriously, Billy? If you had an employee who was commuting 2hrs by train to work EVERY DAY consistently, and now and then the train broke down, or ran behind, or KILLED SOMEONE — you would fire them for being late?

I would never flippin’ want to work for you, you’re utterly outrageous.

BillyApril 13th, 2011 at 10:29 am

If employees were allowed to be late every time a train ran behind schedule we’d have a severe loss of productivity in this country

VickyApril 13th, 2011 at 12:12 pm

@Billy: I have a question – if you get on a train that is on time and then the train gets delay, by let’s say, a mechanical failure or heaven forbid someone jumping on the tracks, how is that person then supposed to be to work on time. You can’t get off the train and are stuck until it moves or alternative transportation is made. Even if you allow yourself 20 extra minutes, these kind of situations generally eat that up and then some. So seriously, how would employees be on time every time a train gets delayed.

hellcatApril 13th, 2011 at 12:50 pm

I guess it depends on how often the trains broke down or were delayed. If it was a once in awhile thing, and they still got mad at her, then that sucks. But I had a coworker whose train was delayed 2-4 times a week every week for six months. She complained bitterly that it wasn’t her fault, and she was technically right, but at some point, it’s your responsibility to figure something else out: leave earlier, figure out another method of transportation, get another job. I’m not saying any of these things are easy, but part of your end of the bargain as an employee is figuring out how to be there on time the majority of the time, and if you can’t, well, you can’t blame them for wanting to find someone who can be.

DUHApril 14th, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Billy is obviously a troll.

uiniE JApril 17th, 2011 at 1:27 pm

my poop is obviously a troll

FriendlyNotFlirtyApril 17th, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I never understood why an assistant needs an assistant.

winterApril 18th, 2011 at 9:26 am

I agree with Billy & Hellcat. I think it’s bogus to be written up because the train struck someone, however, it sounds like J gave you a LOT of extra perks that he didn’t have to. I was an admin asst for many years and being allowed to work from home is almost unheard of, as so much of the job requires tasks that you need to be in the office for (such as filing, doing mailings, etc). Unfortunately, the privileges from one boss can be taken away when your supervisor changes. The job was no longer suitable for you once the position changed and your supervisor was so much less flexible, and I’m glad you found something better.

BillyApril 18th, 2011 at 10:23 am

There have been a surprisingly high number of “troll” sympathizers recently

daveApril 18th, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Ha! billy you call them troll sympethiser I call them profoundly stupid. ;)

OPApril 19th, 2011 at 10:42 am


I understand that J was very lenient with me and I said that I would have been ok had the new time rules been the only change in the job. And as far as leaving earlier for a train, I did try that. I tried everything I could do to be on time but sometimes, the train happens to run over people or break down for hours at a time so it doesn’t really matter which one you take because it holds up ALL trains going into the city.

V made my life miserable and YES, I was angry about picking up lunches and filing V’s folders because I signed up to be an admin, not a bitch. There was nothing productive that came out of my picking up company paid lunches for execs that make six figures a year and can certainly afford their own tabs, THAT’S stealing from the company. You can “troll” on here and tell me that it was my fault for accepting the job and that I should have figured out what my promotion entailed before accepting it but no one in their right mind would have asked for a formal write up before accepting a promotion from their boss. Pardon me for not realizing that promotion meant making pendaflex folders for V’s food stained documents that she couldn’t keep track of and having to get down on my hands and knees and file them while she sat on her duff two feet away from me.

No matter what you say, I’m much happier where I am and I know that when I have an admin or anyone work for me I will never treat them the way I was treated.

BillyApril 19th, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Cool, and I apperciate the troll remark, I’ll add it to the long list of other people who think that anyone with an alternative opinion is a troll.

“no one in their right mind would have asked for a formal write up before accepting a promotion” – Who said that you should? I didn’t say to get a formal write up, don’t make up my arguments to try and make yours sound better. The fact is that you didn’t get ANY details about the position change. I think when a boss asks most people if they want more responsibilities, they at least will ask what that would entail. An extra 50 bucks a day to work 60 more hours a week? No thanks. An extra 50 bucks a day to be lunch monitor while on break? Yes please! It’s a job change, I really don’t know a lot of people that accept a new job having no idea what the job is, and even you admitted to being “shocked and dismayed” when you found out your new title. All I’m saying is that you accepted that risk when you accepted a promotion completely in the dark.

Second, I really still can’t believe that you think it’s acceptable missing work because of the train schedule. Yyou think it’s the company’s responsibility that you show up for work? Of course not, that’s absurd. So just because a train breaks down once a week you don’t have to show up for work? By working at a job 2 hours away and commuting via the train you accept that risk as well, it’s your responsibility to show up every day, on time. Maybe if there’s a once a year emergency that’s one thing, but it seems like you were habitually late, and again, just my opinion, but that’s not acceptable.

Well, anyway call me a troll, doesn’t really hurt my feelings. And maybe in even better news, if you ever become a super rich boss I would happily work for you! Showing up late, working from home, not coming in at all and having a boss that won’t mind sounds pretty sweet. Glad to hear things are working out well though!

AngeApril 19th, 2011 at 6:28 pm

You’re a winner Billy. When the robots come you will finally have your perfect employee. Oh wait, they break down too….

DeeApril 25th, 2011 at 8:35 am

I guess all you opponents of train-riders have never had the displeasure of working “downtown” or “in The City” when you don’t actually live “downtown” or “in The City.” Or maybe you are just lucky enough to have a million wonderful career opportunities open to you at all times. But here in Chicagoland where I live, hundreds of thousands of people commute, by train, by bus, by El, and that means lots of those people are late sometimes, because the Chicago transit Authority is an imperfect thing. If you don’t own a car (because you live in the City) or your other option is to spend two and a half hours on the tollway driving to work (only to find no parking), you take your chances with public transport.

BillyMay 7th, 2011 at 7:36 pm

@Dee – I dunno if it’s too late and you’ll never read this but I actually live in Chicagoland area. I moved out of downtown because I hated it. You can’t drive anywhere because it’s 20 bucks parking and a half a mile walk, the buses were unreliable, and at night, even as a guy, I wasn’t a big fan of the trains. Guess I’m not built out for the big city, so I moved out west to a nice little town with a school that has more shooting than downtown Chicago

ao2.0July 15th, 2011 at 11:33 am

I think your boss J didnt want you to work for him anymore, and was to much of a pansy to fire you. Maybe he went to HR and they told him what was open, and he made it sound better to you. Im just saying if a boss has a good employee they keep that employee.

I agree billy sounds to me like shes a whinner.

Did you ask why you couldent go back to your old position? I mean to your boss J that was so awesome to you?

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