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It used to be that “secretary” was a pretty standard job. Often filled by a woman (don’t shoot the messenger), it involved answering the telephone, taking messages (no such thing as voicemail back in the day), scheduling, serving as a receptionist, taking dictation from the boss (often a man) (again, no messenger-shooting, please), spelling correctly, typing accurately, picking up drycleaning, sending flowers to the boss’s wife, and pretty much whatever the boss wanted done, all the while dress professionally, with every hair in place.
Now, the demarcations between boss and helper are less about gender, and less about typing. The title “secretary”?has mostly fallen by the wayside, and most bosses do their own typing (not always so good on the spelling). There are machines to take messages and answer the phone; the computer takes care of the neat “typing.”
But still, that bygone “secretary” role is crucial, and in any organization, we all know who fills it. Nowadays, they are called “administrative professionals” and today is the day dedicated to them.
These are the people who keep the place running. They always seem to be there before the titled people arrive; often they are there late, too. If you want to know where to get the staples when yours runs out, they hand you some, seemingly pulled from thin air. Wonder who to call about ordering lunch? They have the number. Can they call it in for you?
Need to order flowers for the office mate who had a baby? They already did. Sign a birthday card? Here, use their pen.
They keep our offices and businesses and services flowing smoothly.
Today is the day to notice.
Begun in 1952 as National Secretaries Day, now it’s Administrative Professionals Day. The International Association of Administrative Professionals says there are more than 4.1 million secretaries and administrative assistants working in this country, and nearly 9 million working in administrative support roles.
We who depend on them know who they are. Remember how frenzied everything seemed that week they were on vacation? Today is the day to let them know their service matters. Because it’s really nice to work with people who do a good job, and smile besides. They are the folks who make it fun to go to work in the morning. You can’t really put a value on that, but you can say thanks.