We all need a good, firm pat on the back sometime. Well, support staff, here’s yours.
Your day begins with the constant, blaring ring of the phone. Brrring! Brrring! “I’m on my way,” you want to yell to the caller, but it’s no use. Brrrrrrrring! …As if to wreck your very last nerve. And with a move that rivals the African gazelle, you simultaneously make your final leap, outstretch your arm to its farthest extension, and lift the receiver to your ear. That’s when you hear it – that most annoying sound – of nothing. Maybe the caller realized they’ve dialed the wrong number, or perhaps, they’ve just lost interest. In any event, it’s at this point you’re waiting for someone to jump from behind the counter and yell, “Smile! You’re on Candid Camera! ” (Or in the case with the newer generation, “Ha! You just got punked!”) But no, there is no heckler. As support staff, you immediately recognize that this is your professional life, not necessarily on your terms.
Anyone else would kindly pack their things, drive back home and start all over again. But not you. You remain undaunted. “Why?” others may ask. Because you’re the queen, and as irksome as it might sometimes get – it’s good to be queen.
Even while you’re still catching your breath from your early morning sprint to the phone, you sense that this is going to be a challenging but successful workday. “Successful?” some might ask. Absolutely. Because the queen has arrived – and that’s you. Yes, the world outside of these walls may be filled with the hustling and bustling of its inadequacies, but on your turf, you simply thrive. This alternate world is like a ship setting sail through torrential waters. Still, with you at the helm, it gets to port safely intact.
Make no mistake, though. Being queen isn’t an easy task. Let’s face it: it’s often a thankless job. At times it’s downright painful. But somebody’s got to be queen, and it may as well be you! Yes, in the world filled with college grads, undergraduates and masters’ recipients, the title of “queen” can be seen as a mere condescending label. But being queen is no minor feat. The queen is the matriarch of all she purveys, the surrogate mother of every young lady who’s dating a cad, the nurse to the bumbling idiot who slices his/her hand while cutting a sheet of paper, the counselor to anyone who needs a hearing ear. And as if life wasn’t tough enough, she keeps the ‘king’ on his toes, is gracious to all visitors (whether they’re jobless, homeless or the president of a Fortune 500 company), and greets every delivery person, mail carrier and vendor by name. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think you were at a bar called Cheers.
At times the queen may assist in what’s often looked down on as menial tasks, such as transcribing meeting minutes, typing memos or copying documents. It’s usually at this point that folks often overlook her true capabilities. But in reality, every subject knows the true extent of her queendom. You see, in colleges and universities the world over, while hundreds of individuals – nay thousands – have been groomed to become CEOs, board presidents, and upper management personnel, there is yet one area that most have overlooked: simple office procedure. The true queen realizes that it doesn’t matter how many hours of academics you’ve contributed, or what the topic of your thesis may have been; if there’s no one in your organization who knows how to answer the telephone (and the proper greeting) – you’re doomed. If there’s no one who can retrieve voice mail, put a call on hold, or conference a call through – you won’t be in business for very long. If there’s no one who can unjam the copier, format a document, schedule a meeting in your computer’s calendar, or send an envelope thru the postage meter – how long do you think your company will last? Is there any trustworthy colleague who knows a decent caterer – and at a reasonable price? Can successfully negotiate a decent hotel room rate? Knows the specific details for the maintenance crew? If not, your failure is imminent.
Queendom is the status by which all other positions are measured. Simply put, the world is full of know-it-alls and degree holders. And that’s the beauty of true queendom: it’s one of the few positions remaining where life skills and life experience actually account for something. The true queen knows her worth, yet she doesn’t wield her power over her subjects. She knows that all the years of nurturing her children, assisting ailing relatives, extending kindnesses to her neighbors, and honing her organizational skills weren’t for naught. She realizes that, while some consider hers to be a routine support position, she’s the one who keeps the work flowing, sends cards & flowers to the sick, remembers the important dates – and the cakes, and the gifts, cleans the kitchen when necessary, keeps the copier filled with paper, clears each jam, calms the irate caller, assures there’s postage in the meter, refills the toner, maintains the staff calendar and the staff roster, maintains office supplies (pens, markers, scissors, staplers, paper clips, etc.), and the other necessities (soap, paper towels, toilet paper, etc.). Lastly, it’s she who preps the big guy of what’s up next, where to be, what to take, what to do when he gets there, makes sure that he gets there – intact – and with all items in tow. And she does so with dignity and grace.
Routine? I think not.
At the end of the day, she trades this queendom for the queendom of her reality: home, no doubt where other rules apply. Each queen is faced with her own challenges, but we face each with courage and heart. No, we don’t shrink back, nor do we retreat. We simply do what comes next.
That said, there are three “goods” from our perspective: It’s good to know your place in the world, it’s good to be self-sufficient, but mostly, it’s good to be queen.