If someone doesn’t have a title, it means they didn’t need one. They’re awesome. I’m probably still friends with them. Honourable mentions go to Tiny and Twinkle, who I see every month for coffee and a gossip.
- Amira (1)Amira was a paralegal who I got talking to on a cigarette break and became great friends with. She was very elegant, and very precise, and managed to float through Dodge & Burrow without taking too many hits.
- Avril the Awfully Important Secretary (1)Avril was the second most important Senior Secretary at Dodge & Burrow. She worked for John the Very Important Asshat. She was an odd one, she could be very kind and supportive, or she could snap and put you in your place like the piece of shit that you were. She wasn’t the worst of the Seniors, but I didn’t like her.
- Coral the Utterly Hopeless Burden (0)Coral arrived when the other secretary in my team went on mat leave. Shortly after I had to go on medication. Not long after that I was in meetings almost daily to discuss why Coral was doing so badly. Apparently asking Coral to do better was not a Dodge & Burrow value. Instead, they found it easier to tell me off every time she did something wrong. Since there were no consequences to her actions, Coral got worse and worse, knowing she could never be told off.
Under this level of stress, I frequently fantasised about killing myself in the third floor bathroom, so that my husband wouldn’t have to find my body.
- Ellen the Probate Lawyer (1)Ellen was the other lawyer in probate. With someone like Ken as the head of department, any woman was not likely to get far. Especially in a firm like Dodge & Burrow. I worked for Ellen after I worked for Ken. Six months for him, over two years for her – but still in shouting distance of him.
- John the Very Important Asshat (0)John is frightfully important. During my very painful tenure at Dodge & Burrow, he was second in line to take over the company. He looks almost exactly like Randall from Monsters Inc. Someone in a position of power should be firm but approachable. Possibly he even tried that, but he landed on dickhead.
- Joy the Ironically Named Secretary (who can’t spell) (3)Joy was anything but. She was completely incapable of her job, but she managed to keep all her underlings in such a state of anxiety, they never spoke up when she took credit for their work. She once spelled yellow wrong.
- Ken the Bullying Lawyer (2)Ken was the head of my department. He was charming. He farted all the time. He sneezed on me repeatedly. I took to keeping wet wipes in my desk to wipe off the snot. I’m not joking. He also shouted at me to “Shut up!” when someone (not me) brought in their baby and it started crying. Why me? Because the baby’s mother was the secretary of John the Very Important Asshat and it would be bad form to upset the secretary of someone that important.
- Monty the Trainee with a Law Degree (0)Ah, Monty. Trainees come in two flavours: 1) “You fixed it! You’re a wizard! Teach me!”; or 2) “Fuck off and die, pleb! I have a law degree!”
They expect you to be impressed that they have a law degree. In a law firm. Monty had a double-barrelled surname. He would never listen to me, and once was overheard dismissing my opinion because I was “just a secretary” and “too stupid to be a lawyer”.
- Nina (2)Nina was a secretary in my department. She helped me deal with Ken, until we were separated by maternity leave (hers).
- Paddy the Racially Insensitive Buffoon (1)What can be said about Paddy? Well, he was another trainee, so see my comments about Monty. Oh, what can be said is that at the work Christmas party he gave me alcohol without my consent despite the fact I had said at least six times I did not drink, said something racist, and somehow reported the incident to John the Very Important Asshat, which resulted in a verbal warning. FOR ME.
- Room 5 (1)Room 5 was the room you were taken to when you were in big trouble. Your heart would stop when you heard, “Have you got a minute?” and it would plummet when “Room 5?” followed. It got to the point where it became a verb, as in, “I got Room Fived today.” And that’s why it’s here, because Room 5 is as big a character as any in this ridiculous story.
- Shirley, Queen of the Very Important Secretaries (1)Shirley was the queen of the Very Important Secretaries. Think of her like Regina George. Only with a penchant for Comic Sans.
Shirley was one of those people who had a soft, friendly face… that you just wanted to punch after spending any time working with her. She was forever coming up with brilliant ideas that had nothing to do with working at a law firm. Which is fine – I did too. I just didn’t have the power to make attendance mandatory to each of my brilliant non-work-related ideas.
- Sloane the Trainee with No Clue (1)Sloane was one of the most genuinely stupid human beings I have ever met. On her first day she spent all eight hours drawing a heart on a piece of paper and colouring it in. In the middle she wrote “Sloanes Desk”. On about my eighty-seventh trip to the printer, I said, “You need an apostrophe.” The next time I went past it said, “Sloanes’ Desk.”
- Stacey the Weirdo Stalker (0)Stacey lived up the road from me as a child. She hated me, unless my pony was in the front garden, in which case she would suddenly be friendly, and – how odd – wearing jodhpurs. Twice she tried to get me fired. I still don’t know why.
- Timothy the Genuinely Hopeless Secretary (0)Timothy caused a bit of excitement when he arrived – a male secretary. How interesting.
Sorry men, he let you down. He was the second worst secretary I have ever worked with. He seemed to listen intently to instructions and then do the exact opposite. It was impressive how he could get so much wrong.
As a funny addition, in my new job, he asked for a character reference. You can bet I emailed HR immediately. You can also bet what I said was not kind.
- Tiny (0)Tiny shares her name with Sloane in real life, but she’s too awesome to be associated with Sloane. Tiny is very small. We have a game called “things we can fit Tiny in” – I used to send Tiny items through the internal mail and she would try to fit in them. I’ve known Tiny for ten years at this point, and she’s one of my favourite people on the planet.
- Twinkle (0)Usually I pick normal names for the pseudonyms, but I called her Twinkle because of a constant auto-correct issue I have whenever I use her name on my phone. Twinkle was an apprentice, which meant she was taken on, paid next to nothing, treated like shit, and then made to feel guilty when she said, “Sod this, I’m getting a real job!” (Her current firm cannot function without her. They even offered to put her through law school.)