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April 26, 2006

The art of gratitude

You know the one about the proverbial 2x4 and the jackasses?

Well, the next time, out comes the flamethrowers because some jackasses didn't even blink.

Let me back up a bit and ask you ... ever had a friend or co-worker who never seems to pick up the check at lunch? You know, the one who fumbles in their pocket or purse and discovers they "forgot" their wallet or they're "just a little short this week" but profusely promises to "pick up the check next time"? ...

...and never does?

You forgive it or make an excuse for it the first, or second time. Or more. Until you realize that maybe, just maybe, you're being taken for granted?

Which brings me back to today and Administrative Assistant's Day.

I've worked at my DA office for close to eight years now and, for most of it, the clerical and attorney staffs work together closely AND treat each other to luncheons at various times of the year. Such small gestures of mutual respect and appreciation go a long way to promoting morale and a happy work environment.

But it looks like that has officially ended at my office.

It wasn't that someone "forgot" to organize a luncheon for Administrative Assistants Day. Certainly the other DA offices within the county had organized theirs and the supervisors of each office talk with each other regularly.

We were ignored. Even as we decided to bring in our own "goodies" and park them under a sign that said "Clerk Self-Appreciation Day". It was amazing to watch attorneys catch sight of that sign and ::::whoosh:::: it sail right by.

As I said above, once can be forgiven as just inadvertent thoughtlessness. But in one of the most cheap-assed, lame-brained moves I've ever witnessed, just this last Christmas the clerical staff organized our luncheon to which we treat the attorneys after clearing the date NOT to conflict with their luncheon to which they treat us. We went all out, decorating the lunch room, tables groaning with food to feed an army. The attorneys brought their appetites ...

And then cancelled the luncheon they were organizing for us. "Why have two Christmas luncheons?" was the line spun.

Individually, there are many attorneys I love working with. People who are not reluctant to say "thank you" when they see you go above and beyond. But the general attitude fostered on how the clerical staff is viewed is a top-down affair. And for some, no matter of the rough patches we went through when we were short-staffed and some of us were doing the work of two or three desks, we really are not much more than office furniture. Our suggestions are ignored and we are ignored. Even though many of us hold college degrees, we don't have the holy JD and barcard.

Ain't it grand?

Posted by Darleen at April 26, 2006 06:12 PM


I don't really know your workplace, of course, but there are almost always nooks and crannies in administration that allow folks to work the system a bit. Schedule a clerks apreciation day at a really nice restaurant and have the office billed. Surely you have a few attorneys there who are gullible enough that you can find some to sign off on such things... Think things through. Game the system where you must. CYA, of course, but do try to get the point across. It's for their own good, ya know. :-)

Heck, you mention that there are some attorneys who are good to work for in the office. Maybe one of them could be felt out and enlisted as an accomplice. That'd be nice.

Of course, you could just approach the issue directly. Lay out your brief carefully to one of the better lawyers and ask for his/her help. It's just remotely possible you could break one from the mob that way. Turn one and you have ammo to turn another...

Up the revolution!

Posted by: David at April 27, 2006 09:01 AM

You go Darleen. The office newsletter that came out yesterday was an eye-opener, chock full of comments about various divisions' admin. assistant day festivities, and when it came to the column written by YOUR chief...not a blinkin' word. The tiny satellite office where *I* work had a nice catered luncheon, flowers or gifts for each clerk, and yummy pastries. WE lawyers appreciate our clerks and secretaries. PS I miss you. I think you'll figure out who I am. :-)
PSS Forget David's suggestion. You can't just 'bill' the county, lol.

Posted by: Anony Mouse at May 3, 2006 11:31 PM