Stuff bosses say
Lydia Whitlock’s book of promises to her future assistant will resonate with anyone who has ever been employed
Post-It note extracts from ‘To My Future Assistant – Your Foolproof Guide to Handling the Boss from Hell’ by Lydia Whitlock
Five things bosses say
Challenge (n) – Typically said in an enticing tone of voice; anything described as such is really just a tedious and difficult project in disguise.
Internet, the (n) – A blanket word used by bosses to describe anything to do with internet connectivity or even just basic technology, from email to YouTube.
Let’s . . . (v) – The beginning of a sentence spoken by the boss who wants to tell you to do something but is too passive-aggressive to actually give you a direct order, and therefore starts everything with the incorrect suggestion that both of you will be performing the task.
Political (adj) – A word used to describe any situation that the boss is too lazy/scared to deal with.
Thanks (n) – A word used by bosses when they realise their assistants are almost at breaking point, in an attempt to make them feel appreciated for just a little bit longer, so as much work as possible can be sucked out of them before they’re allowed to go home at 9pm.From ‘To My Future Assistant: Your Foolproof Guide to Handling the Boss from Hell’ by Lydia Whitlock
Lydia Whitlock will never be short of an anecdote at a party. Her first job after graduating from university was as an assistant in a film production company a role she stuck at for five years.
Having encountered countless Miranda Priestly-style bosses in her time, she has just written a book about her start in LA. To My Future Assistant: Your Foolproof Guide to Handling the Boss from Hell is a light-hearted take on her experiences, and those of other assistants. It deals with bosses’ ridiculous requests, offered up in the form of promises to her future assistant, listing all the crazy behaviours she won’t partake in when she becomes a boss.
After she started an anonymous blog, others began to offer stories of their own. “I wasn’t surprised by the amount, [but] I was surprised how terrible some stories were.”
For someone who has been asked to do everything from wait around for installation men because her boss didn’t want to, to having to miss an important dinner with her family because she was asked to listen in on a conference call, she is surprisingly forgiving of her previous superiors.
“They were probably treated poorly as an assistant so therefore they’re like: ‘Well now I have an assistant so I can treat them however I like.’ I also think that sometimes people just don’t notice how they’re coming off.”
Whitlock did not readily walk into an assistant job. Despite having a degree in film, she struggled when she first arrived in Los Angeles. “I sent out hundreds of resumés just looking for an unpaid internship, and I finally got one working for someone who wasn’t even in town for most of the time I was there, so it was very boring.”