And it’s so easy/to hurt others when you can’t feel pain

I would just like to thank the ever-creative   over at The Fulcrum for allowing me to get my latest ‘pink’ layout fit over with in such style. And to note that I would be using It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City forever and always — even went to the trouble of painstakingly uploading all the little image pieces to Photobucket — if my idiosyncratic navigation text didn’t make it go all wonky.

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Wonky. This is a word I have been thinking about a lot lately. Because my boss has commanded that I not use it, even to describe what vendors should be notifying me of if there’s a flaw in the reports I send.

It’s not ‘professional’. Neither are :)’s, or abbreviations like pls or rec’d. Having to actually go out and memorise the i-before-e sequence in ‘received’ is not helping my mood any, at work these days.

The sad part is it all started so very promisingly. Fresh off my triumph as the Best Darned Item Associate ever, assigned to work with an exciting new buyer specifically because of my in-depth knowledge of systems & processes. He’d have the visions, I’d make them realities. An endless succession of busy, happy, creative days, sorting and admiring the pretty dresses & snappy suiting. Perfect.

Yeah, well.

My first mis-step was in not realising that TPTB would immediately begin making plans to exploit my buyer’s excitingness. So hey, let’s give him the departments that are preventing other, overworked buyers from pursuing exciting projects! His assistant (me, if you’ll recall) can totally handle juggling several unrelated areas, each with their own specific needs and demands! Oh, plus shepherd a massive vendor setup fraught with hitches and negotiations, all under hideous pressure! Over the Christmas holidays! I mean, this is helping make the team the best it can be!

Then, let’s pile on the huge new product-development project, directly under the eye of the CEO, introducing specialised knowledge he has but his assistant (yup, still me) really, really doesn’t! Woo-hoo, she really has a chance to make her mark on the company now!

…which is where we run into difficulties. Because my buyer’s plan for coping with all this rests squarely on the idea that his assistant is a driven, ambitious go-getter, unquestioningly willing to exchange retail fashion for bodily needs. He has no idea of how things actually work at grunt (ie, me)-level — and is far too busy to retain explanations — thus his only recourse when told to get it together is to make sure I have it all together.

"You’re not writing all this down, are you?! I’ve told you, I need you to write things — "

[I silently show him my meeting notes]

"Well, you’re obviously not writing EVERYTHING down! I need you to write down every part of the discussion!!"

And so on. Clearly, I am not the assistant of his dreams. I like my job, and it’s a point of great pride that I do it well; but it remains my job. Not my career. I am nearly forty years old and even in my giddy youth had no desire, nor frankly motivation, to venture further into the fashion industry. By nature I am a determined tortoise, just getting there by any means (and vocabulary) necessary…

…making me the ideal target for a frustrated high-fashion hare to vent his tensions against.

All the complex, deadline-laden detail work I do, holding the department together for him? ‘Data entry’. By asking for assistance on questions I don’t understand, I give the impression of ‘not wanting to take on responsibility’. All the while I am working my tail off just getting through the day, I am being made aware that it is not enough. Never enough. I am quite literally a full-time failure. It has reached the point where his simple request to review marketing projects that I’ve worked on for weeks reduces me to a babbling puddle of not enough.

(I do know it’s not just me being incompetent, because our marketing director quietly took me aside the other day and explained that she had told the Big Boss that she felt I was being overworked — her words — and that having to go to me every time for decisions and approvals wasn’t the way it should be. I nearly fainted.)

So this is where I have been when (mostly) not posting for the last while: trying to figure out whether trying to live up to this kind of expectation is worth it, either personally or financially. Oh yeah, and watching the Olympics. Thank you CTV, you may have single-handedly retained my belief in humanity for two weeks.

It was a harder decision than you’d imagine, thanks mostly to pride. It always goes against the grain to be considered a quitter, or unable to handle the pressure. But — immediately following the Closing Ceremonies — I realised the answer had to be no. (Yes, to both the job and the inflatable beavers. Catherine O’Hara and the flying moose can stay, though.)

Not co-incidentally, there were a couple ideal job postings on the company bulletin board at the same time. I approached my buyer and asked for a recommendation. I would like to believe his cheery acquiescence and subsequent almost-glowing reference was not totally due to relief, but whatever. I couldn’t slap the resume together fast enough.

This is where we stand as of even date. No word from the applications. Meanwhile, having made the decision to go means being permanently stuck on the other side of reality: the old comforting illusion that someday I’d catch up and become Super!Assistant has officially been abandoned. You know that old cliche of the caged bird no longer being motivated to sing? I sure do, now.

So when a friend told me today that there was yet another position just opened up, in this same department (no, not me, they’d’ve told me first)… I am entertaining ideas. Major ones. Involving emails to the Big Boss, blowing the whole thing open, grandly offering to step aside for my *ahem* buyer’s sake, to take on this new post so that he can have the assistant he’s openly pining for.

Tactfully not adding that under the circs, I’m fairly sure she doesn’t exist. At least, not since Anne Hathaway went on to other roles.

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