It seems a bit antiquated now, but once upon a time I had a job where I had my own secretary. Then times moved on and the idea of one secretary per lawyer went out of fashion, so I had to share mine with someone else. And at times in my career, I’ve not had one at all.
The vast majority of these have been wonderful and I have had a very good relationship with them. One or two have been utterly hopeless. With at least one, I got off on totally the wrong foot to begin with, although we patched things up later.
I’m not going to pretend that I am an easy person to work for, either (or to work with). Of those who were my secretary and mine alone (and who therefore had to cope with unmitigated me), the record for longevity is held by Jasmin, who had the job from September 1994 to December 1996.
Jas was in many ways unique. For one thing, she was the only secretary who never complained about me. She was also the only one who regularly fell asleep at her desk. Scott Adams, the creator of ‘Dilbert’, dubbed this ‘Qwertyitis’, but I think Jas was one of the earliest suffers.
At the time, I didn’t have a computer in my office. I was one of the few who didn’t – which was probably a wise move – which meant that everything I wanted to circulate to the department, office, or the world had to by typed by Jas in addition to the regular workload of letters, file notes, whimsical memos, cricket match report and, on one occasion, a diary in which the entire fee-earning staff became wombles.
Jas and I got on like a house on fire, right from day one. That we were almost the same age helped, but so did the fact that we came from very different backgrounds – her parents were from St Vincent and she was never short of a story about life there, including the family’s two enormous rottweilers, Tyson and Bruno.
The only reason that our partnership was broken was that I was promoted (unlikely though that seems) and moved to another office. I left the firm a year later and for a couple of years Jas and I stayed in touch. Then, when I moved back to Reading in 1999, I recruited her to be my secretary again. Sadly, she found life in a smaller firm harder to cope with and left after only six months.
Since when, I have not seen or heard from her. Where she went, I do not know. Wherever she is, and whatever she is doing, I hope she is doing if for someone who appreciates her good humour, her loyalty and of course her borderline narcolepsy as much as I did.