When I’m not persuading Mini B that his bath water isn’t for drinking, wondering what to feast on next, iPad film surfing with Mr B, blogging or sleeping, I am, by day, a personal assistant.
There was never a long-term agenda to become a PA (does anyone have that agenda?!), I just sort-off absentmindedly ended up as one.
I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do when I was at school – I was mediocre at most things, which never lends itself well to that inspiring lightbulb moment when you realise your talents may translate into something that can pay the bills one day – the only thing I really loved was drama. But I’m talking GCSE and A-level drama here, the type of drama that I associate with Hollyoaks and bad amdram societies who put on Oliver! every year to an audience of three people – no one other than my mum was going to appreciate my Mole in Wind of the Willows enough to turn me into a star.
And so I ended up very briefly at university before reality hit that I wasn’t that fussed by Tudor Kings or Silas Marner enough to hedge a career on it and I swiftly exitted for home.
Fast forward a few years - my first reception turned into a PA job and there I stayed. With spare time on my hands (what is this spare time I speak of?...!) I started to write features on the side for bit of fun- general musings, reviews, piss-taking horoscopes, that kind of thing. For three years my hobby became a proper paid job too working on national magazine titles but when that fun-bubble burst I found myself back doing the only thing I know how to do – and here I still am.
The thing about PAing is that it can be brilliant – in the right place – and here’s the big caveat – with the right boss – you can fly.
With the wrong boss, you can sit at your desk sticking drawing pins into a Blue-Tack effigy of said boss whilst hoping he/she may impale himself on a hole punch.
The whole PA thing relies hugely on a solid working relationship – and here’s the tricky part –mind-reading. It requires powers of psychic nature to second guess if he/she may want to attend that meeting next week when you only have 5 seconds to respond to the invite or knowing that he/she hates sitting on anywhere on a plane unless it’s the first two rows, second seat from the left.
You exist in a weird hybrid of non-seniority whereby you float between idiots talking to you in one word sentences and passing you joyous menial tasks such as putting a letter in a post tray (which is in fact next to their desk and nowhere near yours) or asking you to fill up their stapler daily to being trusted with super-confidential emails and schmoozing with Mr Bigs who are on their best kiss-arse because they know you’re the only way they’re going to get a slot in your boss’s diary next Tuesday.
You’re effectively a gatekeeper to Mr or Mrs Important Person and if you can get to grips with copious amounts of multi-tasking interlaced with a whole heap of common sense and a dash of strong will, you’re on your way to nailing the life of a PA.
Something that does rules me a little is when someone asks me what I do - I’m more often than not met with a disinterested glazed look and a swift conversation change. My friends can rattle on about their high-flying roles doing blah blah management with blah blah creative agency blah and that’s a thrilling way to engage a nobody for twenty minutes apparently but sadly being a PA doesn’t summon that “Ooh WOW, tell me MORE” kind of attitude. Unless you’re a PA to someone like the Queen or Chris Martin – which I very nearly was once (Chris Martin, not Her Madge), but pah, no one wants to hear about that…..do they?.......!
It may not set the world on fire but it's a job, not a bad one either. But I admit I need more in my life - which is why you are reading this.....
Oh and PS - this is a rather splendid blog dedicated to cheerleading the world of PA's - definitely worth a look:
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