I’m totally ready for children. Why? Because I spend four days a week as an office manager. Actual mothers may laugh at this assertion, but allow me to explain the comparisons (as I understand them).
1) Everyone thinks I have a magic wand to fix all problems. For mothers, I imagine this lasts until your children hit puberty, since that’s when every child thinks they know everything…and then they graduate from college, get a job, and all of a sudden that adult self-sufficiency goes right out the window.
Then they become my problem:
“Lauren, there’s a paper jam and I can’t clear it.” OK? “Can you come help me?”
“I’m literally not going to do anything that you haven’t already done.” Oh never mind, you won’t get on your knees to open the drawer. You’re wearing pants, I’m wearing a skirt, but no problem, I’ll get my knees dirty.
“Lauren, there’s an echo in my telephone.”
“OK, I’ll email our telecom guy.”
15 minutes later…
“Lauren! It’s not fixed!”
“I know…he’s working on it.”
1 hour later….
“Lauren, I hate our telephone system.”
“I know, I’m sorry, I’ll call Tom again.”
2 days later
“Lauren, our telephone system sucks! There’s still an echo, I can’t fax…” What-the-fuck do you want me to do about it??? They are WORKING on it. We had a FLOOD in the server room. Or don’t you remember you whiney POS???
“I know, I’m sorry, I’ll call Tom again.”
“Lauren, every time I open a PDF, I get a message saying I have to enable something.”
“Ok.” I blink my eyes, waiting for an actual question or statement of emergency.
“Well- whhhhhyyyyy?” Seriously? You might as well have just stomped your foot.
“I don’t know. I can email our Help Desk if you’d like.”
“Yea, can you do that?” Sure. Or you could. It takes one minute.
2) No one knows how to wash their dishes. I am proud to say that this is something my mother and father taught my brothers and me to do well. After a certain age (which was determined by our ability to carry a plate and not drop it), we always helped out. Apparently, the same lessons were not occurring in other households. Literally every-single-day, I walk into the kitchen and there are dirty coffee cups, Tupperware containers, utensils and soggy food lying at the bottom of the sink. I’ve tried not washing the dishes but once the clean stuff runs out, they just use disposable.
3) If I ask someone to do something, I have to follow up at least three more times before they remotely acknowledge the original request. This usually isn’t something minor, but something that will affect corporate accounting, or how they’ll get paid on their commissions or get reimbursed for their expenses. Unless I threaten a consequence, nothing gets done.
4) My time is not my own. I have an office, I have a door that I can close, I have perfected the “stare at the computer screen as they’re passing by so they don’t come in,” and none of it works. I could be mid-bite into my salad, on the phone with a vendor, working on a spreadsheet, or better still, talking with someone else in the office about an unrelated issue, and I will still get interrupted as though their problem or commentary is the most important thing on the planet.
5) I have to teach them to play nice with others. This is actually sadder than the dishes or needing me to clear the paper jam because as it turns out, our office is really just a small sandbox where everyone gets to replay their childhood neuroses.
“He’s not nice to me.”
“She prints black and whites on the color printer.”
“He doesn’t claim his PTO.”
“He gets more of your time than I do.”
“She uses up all of the hazelnut Coffeemate.” This one is my favorite. Why do you care? I’ll order more. Relax.
But instead of yelling, “GOOD GOD, grow the fuck up!” I smile and say, “OK, I will take care of it,” or, “Have you tried [x]?”
6) I have to listen to nonsense all day long. I’m all for you kids telling me stories about your day at school, but there’s one guy in my office who, no matter what time of day it is, no matter what I’m doing, he walks through my door, crosses the barrier of personal space (i.e. my desk) and sits on the credenza behind me. He then proceeds to tell me his life story over and over and over again. I’ve heard his stories so many times, I could write his biography. No one would read it, because he’s not that interesting. But I could write it.
7) Whenever they have their friends over to play in the conference room, no one picks anything up and it looks like a tornado hit. Enough said.