Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Today, I received an email urging me to buy cosmetic products for my Administrative Professional on April 22nd. I think they used to be called Administrative Assistants and before that, in the antediluvian past, Secretaries. It was considered innovational when Secretary's Day was originated in 1952, for now those thankless clerical workers would be acknowledged. Eventually, the word "Secretary" became shameful and lacking in importance, so now we have Administrative Professional's Day.
Everybody is a professional these days. I wonder if ditch diggers are called Entrenchment Professionals, and what about chain gangs? Would they be called Linked Incarceration Professionals? (L.I.P's.) Immersion, Agitation and China Purification Professionals = dishwashers. Garbage collectors, called "garbage men" in my youth, are probably classified as Environmental Waste Accumulation & Distribution Professionals.
I have issues with this pretentious renaming of livelihoods: Everyone deserves respect regardless of the kind of work he/she performs. Why must we dress it up to sound more esteemed than it is? Garbage collection, for example, is a very important job. If no one performed this service, our entire society would very quickly perish of nasty plagues.
There is also the matter of semantics. When I was a child, a "professional" referred to a doctor, lawyer or dentist. Later, the meaning expanded to include those who were paid for doing something which other people did for recreation, like athletics. Or sex. (Which can, of course, be combined endlessly, but that is another post entirely.)
There is also the assumption that if secretaries are not given a more important-sounding title, their self-worth will suffer. Or perhaps it's a cynical ploy to ensure a steady stream of people willing to perform secretarial duties for their bosses. And here we open another can of worms - the corporate hierarchy. I have no problem with the fact that there are bosses - those with the most training, ability and experience should absolutely be running things, and anarchy in the workplace is to be avoided. I just don't like the word "boss." It has ugly connotations. I especially dislike the term "superior" to describe a person who ranks higher than another because I am overly steeped in the quaint notion that all are created equal, even though some of us earn far more than others.
All these ruminations aside, since I do not actually employ an Administrative Professional, I will not have to take him or her to lunch on the 22nd, nor bestow said Administrative Professional with burnt offerings. But I certainly hope that like all people, they are appreciated and rewarded every day for their work, not just once a year.