Many of you are aware that I am an intelligent person with a job of some importance. My position requires that I have a large office with wonderful views of the city and an impressively large desk filled with papers of some sort. It is also necessary that I have an “executive assistant” who, I understand, performs many critical “tasks” and who takes on many “responsibilities.” Recently, she asked my permission to have a day off and suggested that I might handle things in her absence. Being a caring and understanding superior, I asked what types of things I might have to do.
Pointing to a rather complicated-looking apparatus that had several lights and buttons on it (along with what appeared to be a receiver) she replied, “Well, you would have to keep an eye on the phones.”
Well, I could certainly keep an eye on the phones. This was no big deal. Since I was not being asked to actually answer them I felt confident that I could handle such a critical chore. I asked her if there was anything else.
“Oh yes,” she answered, “you also have to pick up the mail.” She gestured to a modest pile of letters perched on a nearby credenza
I studied the mound for a few moments. I estimated its weight to be about one pound. This was not a problem. I happen to be one of those people who are amazingly capable of lifting light objects. At worst, I might need to use two hands to compensate for any momentary weakness. I was growing confident that I could manage. I again asked if this was all.
“No. You would also have to make sure that your schedule doesn’t get too crazy,” she said.
Of course, I had heard of many occurrences of calendpsychosis, a mental illness common to the business schedule. (Indeed, a friend of mine once had to call a physician that specialized in such afflictions - at considerable expense - to verify the diagnosis.) But I had never known my schedule to become “too crazy” so I was quite sure that this would not be challenging. My confidence was still rising and I was inclined to give her an entire week off. I inquired if there was anything else.
Sensing my complacency, she replied in a somewhat irritated tone, “Well. . .yes. There are hundreds of things that I do behind the scenes each day to make sure that you look good!”
I chuckled quietly and casually glanced out the window. In doing so, I happened to catch a glimpse of my reflection. I reeled back from the figure staring back at me. (It resembled a casaba melon balanced on top of a damp sack of potatoes – more fruit and vegetable than human.) I suddenly felt my confidence flagging. Turning back to her, I said,
“I am sorry but you are invaluable. I simply cannot let you have a day off.”