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Getting off of Scott’s desk was a done deal except he insisted that I hire his new assistant. It was ridiculous and a little cruel on his part. How was I to hire an assistant for someone who didn’t need one? What would I tell her? “Um, yeah, your days will mostly consist of listening to Scott talk about how busy he is and could you order him a tuna fish sandwich; which, by the way, will sit on his desk untouched for hours, along with all of his supposed work.”
The strongest contender was an English woman who seemed competent, even-keeled and unfazed by the notion she’d be working in the CEO’s corner. I felt compelled to explain Gina and the intricacies of working with her, but I didn’t know where to start. I considered asking if she could do a cartwheel, but instead I told her the truth.
“Gina isn’t easy,” I said, closing the door to Scott’s office. “She can be really nice and really mean all in the course of five minutes. I tell you this because it would be unfair not to. She’s manageable, but you’ll save yourself a lot of grief knowing this in advance.”
The woman, Claire, nodded and told me she was used to working with difficult people and that she could handle Gina just fine. I wasn’t sure she was the best fit for Scott, but I was so desperate to get out of there, I lied and told him she was perfect.
Life on the other side of the office was much better for me. I enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of working around the lesser partners and their assistants. It was like moving from a pressure cooker to a toaster oven where you either made toast or small things, like English Muffin Pizza’s. George was great and always in a good mood which strangely took some getting used to. I loved that he had a life outside the office with a wife and grandchildren whom he adored.
His thick skin made him an easy target for my sarcastic sense of humor. One time, he’d left me a voice mail in between chews of a ham and cheese sandwich. “Liz,” he’d said, smacking his lips. “Can you,” lip smack, lip smack, “make a reservation for, swallow, chew, lip smack. “London, next week?”
I hated when people ate and talked on the phone. It was disgusting.
I saved his voicemail and forwarded it back to him adding a sharp little preamble.
“Hey George. Attached to this message is your earlier voicemail. I just wanted you to hear what I had to hear. In the future, would you mind not eating and talking into my ear? Thanks. Oh, and your tickets to London are on your desk.”
George could take it and in fact, he took it further, always calling me into his office with his mouth full of food just to annoy me.
The good times didn’t last very long, though. Six months after the move, rumors were flying around that The Madsen Group was being bought out. It was the only time I’d missed being on Scott’s desk. Sitting in that corner, I was always privy to information long before the others. Gina liked to talk or more accurately, she liked to throw in my face how in-the-know she really was and I’d play along doing my best to make her feel important. I didn’t care as long as I found out the important stuff.
I had distanced myself from the corner and going back now to sniff around for information was too transparent. Plus, I couldn’t stomach the idea of Gina lording her “power” over me as I’d seen her do with others. I would just have to wait it out with the rest of the non-essential players.