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Kirby: Your job could be worse: You could manage me

By Robert Kirby

| Tribune Columnist

First Published Aug 21 2012 03:59 pm • Last Updated Aug 22 2012 11:14 am

I was supposed to be in Price Monday speaking to the Carbon School District at 9 a.m. Instead, I was in my office playing a video game ("Starship Skanks IV").

Note: Just exactly why Carbon County teachers would want someone like me at their conference was a mystery. Maybe they couldn’t get a magician or a monkey.

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It’s probably no surprise that I might forget to be somewhere. My mind tends to wander a lot. In fact, it’s rarely where it ought to be at any given moment. And because it’s attached to my body, neither am I.

Oddly enough, forgetting to be somewhere rarely happens anymore. That’s because I have an administrative assistant (as I refer to her), or a business manager (as she refers to herself).

Her name is Elizabeth and — here’s the important part — I’m afraid of her. Not just a little bit, either.

Elizabeth handles my schedule, makes appointments, sees that my bills are paid and talks to people about stuff I would only find confusing. I may be the one who pays her, but she’s the boss.

She does her job well. Every Monday, Elizabeth gives me a list of places I’m supposed to be during the week. She tells me where to be and what to wear. I still have a Post-It for a speech I gave in St. George, that says, "Make sure you take your pants."

After that, Elizabeth takes my cell phone and programs it with reminder alarms for these events.

On Monday the alarm for the Carbon County School District thing went off exactly the way it was supposed to. A recording of Homer Simpson yelling, "Oh, save me, Jebus!" was followed by a popup tag that read, "Get in the car right now and drive to Price. Do not stop at Sonny’s."

Unfortunately, my phone was in the car and I wasn’t. I was in my office battling Lord Puritan, blissfully unaware that I was supposed to be somewhere important.

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When I didn’t show up, the Carbon School District people tracked me down through the paper and wanted to know if I was badly hurt or dead?

I was fine until Elizabeth found out that I hadn’t gone to Price like she had promised. She stormed into my office and threatened to quit.

It was really loud. Hadn’t I promised to do everything she said when I hired her? How was she supposed to handle my business if I insisted on undermining her efforts by being an idiot? She was not running a "damn day care here."

I groveled, vowed that it would never happen again and paid for an expensive lunch for her and her sister. Then I promised to go to Price the next day and apologize.

Prior to Elizabeth, it was Shannon. She was nice. She told the most convincing lies about where I actually was. "I’m sorry but he’s not in right now." Then there was Carol, who told everyone the brutal truth. "He’s in but he doesn’t want to talk to you, so stop calling."

Some might claim that such behavior isn’t professional. Those people don’t have to manage a moron.

Everyone should have an administrative assistant. Life runs so much better when you have someone telling you what to do, especially if you’re actually supposed to be doing it.


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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