Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April 24 used to be Secretary's Day

Vintage secretary photo obtained from this
(and there were a number of others
there, equally as good)
The nice lady pictured at left might have liked the idea of Secretary's Day, back in the day. The boss might have given her a card, or bought her lunch or a gift certificate. She would have been happy, and would have told all her friends that she had a 'nice boss.'

But things are complicated in the 21st Century. No one even wants to be called a secretary anymore, even when one is in fact a secretary. The current term is "administrative professional," although the person who types or files or answers the phone is neither an administrator nor a member of any of the traditional learned professions (e.g., law or medicine).

Fortunately, the problem is self-correcting.

Many learned professionals do their own typing, thank you, and filing, too, at least when given no other choice. The true secretary is a vanishing breed. Those who might have employed a secretary in years past might now employ an assistant -- a gofer -- the person who makes calls, or screens calls, and runs errands (or interference), in addition to any organizing or even typing that may on occasion still be required. Nor is the assistant certain to be female.

Of course, secretaries used to be exclusively male -- but that was in the 19th Century.

By fifty or 60 years ago, secretaries were almost exclusively female. And they took shorthand.

You probably don't know what shorthand is. If you have an assistant, ask him or her to look it up on Wednesday. Then take him or her to lunch.

No comments: