No, I Don't Want to be Your Goddam Virtual Assistant

My first job out of college was as an executive assistant to the man who invented Kind Bars. And boy was that guy a lunatic. He had outrageous demands that I sometimes thought were riddles and proverbs meant to teach me lessons more than actual tasks to be performed. Once, he made me cry on the phone because someone gave me the wrong address for a meeting and I forgot to do black magic to find out if it was correct. When he realized I was crying, he said he felt bad and would eat my boogers if it would make me feel better. I know, girl. I know.

It was the year that the iPhone came out and he made me spend over three hours on the phone with AT&T and threaten to switch to Verizon (impossible at the time) and talk about their bad service to his network (that AT&T gave no fucks about) if he didn't get a discount on a bill he ran up on roaming charges in the Middle East. Most receipts for expense reports were in Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, and Spanish and usually at least a month old so I had to translate them and do the currency conversions for the day of the purchase weeks before and learn to read "taxi" and food names in Mandarin for 24K a year and about 60 hours week.

But the thing is, he was also kind of awesome in that he never used gendered language about me and when he was a shit to me, it never felt like he was doing so because I was a 21 year old who had maybe exaggerated her Excel competency. His expectations were impossibly high because he thought I was smart and capable. He made booger jokes instead of sex jokes. And though I ultimately left because it was too overwhelming for too little reward, I didn't leave because it was degrading. But it made me certain that I never wanted to be an assistant again because that shit is really, really hard work that I am not especially good at.

So I've spent the last seven years cultivating skills that make it so that I can do other shit that I am better at. Presently, that means a mix of digital brand copywriting and some editorial work. I can barely use a calendar or spreadsheet and when I book travel for myself I have major meltdowns so this has been beneficial in a number of ways.

One of the ways that I get my work is by having profiles on various sites where businesses and freelancers can connect about potential jobs. You can either apply to jobs yourself or have people invite you to work for them. Nowhere in any of the portfolios or profiles I have for getting copywriting jobs do I mention any history as an assistant. And if I did, it was under a year and also doing a ton of other shit.

tumblr_inline_n0unkjDFry1szrkk4AND YET, at least once a week, a man invites me to apply to be his virtual assistant  (yes, its always men. Yes, 100% of the time. No really, never one woman. Not even once.) . And even though my listed rate is never below $30/hr, the jobs usually goes for $10/hr. Sometimes less and the promise of EXPERIENCE and EXPOSURE, like his fucking dental practice calendar in Toledo is the goddam Huffington Post or some shit.

This would make sense if people were regularly inviting all sorts of people to do all sorts of things they aren't qualified for because of bad indexing or keywords. But that is not what's happening. It is always men and they are always asking me to do their administrative tasks. It has also only happened on profiles that have my photo on them and I am revealed to be female and not a haggard shrew of one either. Some even use the term "Gal Friday." And some have even argued the fucking point when I have declined and said that I'm not qualified.

"Oh, it's really easy," has been said. Which is 1) Not true, that shit requires skills, you shitbag d 2) Irrelevant, I don't want a job just because its easy. I can do like, other things, for like, more money, and less of animate scabies like you.

"Well, I need emails written," has been said, when I said I do commercial copywriting. Which is, you know, not really the same thing as sending email invitations to your clients and then scheduling them to meet you at the Olive Garden.

"I can mentor you," has happened once like I'm some untapped talented youth looking for my Sean Connery in all the wrong places.   This is a personal favorite since it came from someone in an industry that I give absolutely no fucks about getting into and if I am going to have a mentor outside of my industry, its going to be Jordan Belfort or some other scumbag with at least a little psychopathy to break up the day with.

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And then sometimes I decline and they send the invitation AGAIN. There are entire Tumblrs dedicated to these "No means convince her," dickballs when the appear on OKCupid. I should really see if Tumblr has a "This boss is a dickball" genre. That Tumblr machine, it really does have everything.

 

I am nice to assistants because they are treated like shit. I respect what they do because they are often the brains behind entire operations. I also respect them because they wield unimaginable power in possession of calendars and phone lines. But I don't to be one and it's a little goddam suspect when some douchebro with a company that I can't even Google with definitive results thinks I am gonna splooge at the opportunity to make his dinner reservations. I don't want to work for your ordinary ass.

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