The Perfect Admin

Technically, Pauline reported to the director of Research and Development.. There had been many directors during the twenty years the company had existed but only one Pauline. One Pauline to greet each new director. One Pauline to ensure his needs were met. One Pauline to introduce him to the staff and company procedures. One Pauline. In most corporations, incoming executives can select or at least are given the opportunity to interview their own assistants but Pauline had worked with the Gargoyles since the beginning and they would only communicate with whoever was the director through her.

Many, if not all, of the directors had been recruited from the large pharmaceuticals or research labs which were the company’s primary customers. According to the Gargoyles, only such men were capable of understanding their groundbreaking system for storing and retrieving molecules as graphical structures which was the reason why the company existed in the first place. Without “The Host” there would be no company. Without the Gargoyles there would be no Host.

The other members of R&D (many of whom were PhDs themselves) depended on a handful of sub-Paulines for their administrative needs. All sub-Paulines had been run through the wringer by Pauline herself. Interviews would last days and entail hundreds of questions Pauline had pulled from as many HR manuals as she could find, whether or not those questions were pertinent to a secretarial role. Pauline’s intent was to select women who would know their place, even though she would be loathe to put it that way. The secretarial staff was there to serve and not to mingle. To be invisible except when needed. To proudly wear the company logo on their sweatshirts and organize company events but to keep participation to a minimum. Those who made it through the initiation phase soon gained a reputation for being lazy, useless or just plain braindead.

On the extraordinarily rare occasion Pauline was out of the office, instead of approaching a sub-Pauline, the Gargoyles would take their grievances directly to the VP of Sales. More than anyone else, he appreciated their importance to the company. However, his admin was not a Sub-Pauline. She was a Colleen and her primary job was to pamper visiting customers and not to put up with the grumblings of the Gargoyles. She would arrive every morning looking as if she just stepped out of a fashion magazine and carrying bouquets of fresh flowers. Then she would further tidy an already tidy and luxurious office.

It was no place for the Gargoyles. For one thing, any sort of odor, be it chemical or natural, triggered severe allergic reactions in the group and soon Colleen’s showcase lobby would be full of unshaven and slovenly dressed Gargoyles all wheezing and snorting and downright pissy. Why was she trying to kill them with those cancer causing cleaning fluids and flowers probably sprayed with DDT? Didn’t she know who they were?

Fortunately for Colleen, Pauline rarely left the office.

It was the development of the highly anticipated Host II that enticed Ethan Pinkney to take a sabbatical from his position as VP of a major East Coast pharmaceutical and leap into the fray (as he put it). His children had gone off to college; his wife had gone back to work in Manhattan and he was ready for a change. Besides, he’d worked with the Host interfaces and made many suggestions for upgrades that the Gargoyles found intriguing. But Ethan was a cautious man. He knew that R&D directors came and went so he only agreed to stay until Host II’s launch.

At first he was happy to have Pauline. She’d set right to the task of finding him an appropriate apartment and even stocked his kitchen. In fact, in the beginning, Pinkney couldn’t understand why his predecessor Andy (who was also a friend) had warned him to interview and hire his own admin. “Don’t let them foist Pauline on you. She has no opinions.” No opinions, Ethan thought, isn’t that an asset in a support staff person. Beside he wasn’t being paid the equivalent of a thousand bucks an hour to interview secretaries.

A few years back a friend of mine wrote a story about the dark forces threatening the bio tech industry in which we both worked. In these industries most of the employees are like paper plates. There’s the core talent and those who figure out how to make themselves indispensable. Like Pauline.


4 thoughts on “The Perfect Admin

    1. Thanks Aaron. The person I based Pauline on had a sort of non-personality that I found fascinating but many people found a little off. Especially given her relationship with the founders of the company who were way “off.” But I don’t know if I’m up to writing a horror story!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This was funny as hell. Thanks. I am judging this to be science fiction based upon a true story, but like Aaron says, your style of writing makes this something much more than what it is based upon. Horror, yeah, it is in that direction. I think Carol would get a big kick out of it. So, I am quiet now. I’ll talk to you later. Love. Duke

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Thanks Duke. Before she came to work with the Gargoyles, Carol worked for Genentech which she said was an even stranger place. Carol saw herself as a champion for women and was always trying to get the Sub-Paulines to demand better treatment. But I think they were fairly well paid and that was all that mattered. Take care – quiet I understand. Love, jan


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