I spent several months working at my firm hearing some distant chatter about night staff. I have left the office between 6 and 7 on several ocassions, and saw very few people on my floor slaving away, and none of them looking for secretarial assistance. What the heck is night staff FOR?*
I found out on Friday night.
I was working on a project which I thought I could bifurcate into two pieces: finish one piece on Friday, and come in on Monday (officially a holiday, but the girls are on their way out of town, and I have more than enough work to do, so I’m putting in a full day) to finish the second piece.
At approximately 4 p.m. on Friday, however, I realized I could bifurcate the project, and had to just do it all at once. I called Beloved, wrangled through the details of what it would mean to the family for me to miss Movie & Ice Cream night, and settled in for the long haul. I could have, instead, gone home at 5 and then spent Saturday a.m. (6 a.m. until 10, perhaps?) finishing the project. I preferred to have Saturday to sleep in with the family, and enjoy an entire day with nothing hanging over my head. Beloved agreed, when the options were laid out.
I scrambled from 4 – 5 with my secretary to make sure I had all the pieces that I needed to finish my project. Tabs? 5 inch binders? Copy center forms? There was a chance I’d be having to send a messenger to a partner’s house on Sunday, so I was asking her about the process for that, and she said, “You know, we do have 24 hour coverage, all you have to do is call the receptionist.” Huh. Really? And then she reminded me of our floor’s night secretary. Really?
At 6, I couldn’t find any “A” tabs. We had tons and tons and tons of every other letter, but no A’s. So I went to the night secretary. She arm wrestled the folks on other floors until she had a few A tabs in hand. Phew!
And when I finished my part of the project at 10 p.m., I was able to hand the package over to the night secretary with detailed instructions as to the assembly, the copies, the delivery locations, etc.
I could have used her more, if I didn’t have so much secretarial experience in my own background. I felt like my requirements were so specific that it would take a lot less time for me to just type my own index than it would for me to explain it to her, and then have to review/revise it according to my own peculiarities.
It is still funny, though. That someone sits there until midnight every night just in case someone has a freak out moment where they realized their planning wasn’t good enough, and they have to work until movie-time and needs help. I was grateful for it Friday.
And for those who were wondering – Beloved and the girls had a great time. They watched The Party and ate ice cream and when I asked them if they missed me, they looked at me like I was from Mars and E said, “we were watching a movie, so we were sort of distracted.”
*I do hear that my friends in other departments are regularly in the office until 10 p.m., and sometimes have been working until 3 a.m. several nights in a row – this does not seem to be the case in my department, and if people are required to work that late, they are typically able to do so at home.
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