The worst feeling in the world is when your office Administrative Assistant is on leave for an extended period of time. Our Mr. M works tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that everything in the office runs smoothly. He anticipates our needs before we even realize we have those needs and quietly meets them.
He has been away now for three weeks and almost another week looms ominously ahead of us before he returns to our loving, welcoming, demanding arms.
Here are some life lessons I have learnt in the past three weeks:
- The value of a tissue box – A box of tissues, aside from your mother, is the most under-appreciated thing in the world. When you are throttled by the ravages of a persistent flu, you need your Mommy and the tissues the most. Mommy can mollycoddle you at home, but the tissues at work can only be supplied by an attentive office assistant who magics new tissue boxes onto your work desk just as you pull out the last tissue from the old box.
- Office stationery does not miraculously appear when you close your eyes and make a wish – Anytime I have ever run out of pens, post-its, files or binding materials, all I’ve ever had to do was raise my head and call out to M. He seems to have the power of divination and within minutes, whatever I require appears on my desk. In his absence, I am reduced to the sorry position of poaching supplies from colleagues’ desks. Needless to say they do the same to me as evidenced by the half-day hunt for my calculator last week.
- Water supply on the roof floor of an office building is not constant – Somehow when M was around, our toilet water supply was smooth and consistent. In the past few days however, all hell has broken loose as water trickles out of the faucet at the rate of one drop every ten seconds. Okay so that might be a slight exaggeration but M, we miss you!
- Never underestimate the power of air-conditioning in a desert – For 337 days in a year, the air-conditioning in our office runs smoothly. And by smoothly I mean that it is cranked up to a point where my fingers are so frozen they refuse to bend at the joints. But cold is good. Cold I can bundle up against. What do you do when it is too hot? Why, call M of course to get it fixed. Oh wait… he’s not here! Let’s just all melt into a puddle then, shall we?
- Office contractors do not speak Human-ese – So before he left, M assigned some interior re-design work to a group of contractors. He seemed to have no problem getting work out of them for the past few years. But the minute another colleague started coordinating with them in M’s absence, they seem to have lost the ability to understand even the most basic of instructions. Only M can communicate with these aliens in a language they understand to get the job done.
- Gone are the days of someone showing you how much they care – Mr. M goes out of his way to look after you. When I had a minor car accident a while ago, Mr. M was more worried about my well-being than anyone else in the office. He drove me to and from work every day until my car was released from the workshop. He shared his own breakfast with me when he heard that I had not had time to grab a bite in the morning. He followed up with the insurance company to ensure my case was given priority. He was my life jacket when I was drowning in what had all the potential of becoming an administrative nightmare.
M. works seven days a week, willingly putting in overtime to get things done. His work day does not stop at 8 hours and he runs pillar to post conducting errands, both professional and personal, for the bosses.
So if you have a Mr. M in your life, just take a moment to show him some appreciation. Go on, you know you love him (and if you don’t, you should!). So invite him over to your home for some family fun, buy him a meal or give him a tip for Holi/Easter/Eid/(insert holiday of your choice).
Just show him you care.