Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Ins and Outs of Administrative Professionals Day

It's the last Wednesday of April and it's not "Administrative Assistant's Day", you ass. And you better believe it's not "Secretary's Day." Where have you been? Sometimes you're such a Keith Hernandez!

It's called Administrative Professionals Day! And it's an extremely precarious minefield us office workers must now carefully traverse. One wrong move and spirits can be crushed, the flame of motivation snuffed out, emotions laid bare. But fear not, I am here to help. Have you told your administrative professional that you love him or her? Today is the official day to do it. And I will help show you exactly how.

For starters, where did this day come from? Is it sanctioned in some way? "Administrative Professionals Day" is indeed a registered trademark, and the resistant is the International Association of Administrative Professionals.

This is the real deal, people. OK?

The day even spawned an unofficial dance jam. You can listen to it here but keep your sound down, lest you inspire the ire of your nearby administrative professional.

The first Secretary's Day was held back in 1952 when secretaries were curvy women in short skirts. Ohh, the 50s. You'd better believe it, boy! Gifts were given largely in the form of lunches, flowers, and sexually charged comments. But those days are long gone. Men have torn down the secretarial gender barrier and many proudly do what once only women were allowed to do.

In 1998 the name was changed to better represent the full range of administrative positions. Even though this was also an attempt at gender neutrality the most popular gifts given are still flowers, candy, lunches, and sexually charged comments.

According to the IAAP the best way to celebrate Administrative Professionals Day is: tuition reimbursement, membership in professional organizations, training reimbursement, or supporting the attainment of professional certification. In other words: all things to help your administrative professional cease being an administrative professional.

If those ways are not acceptable additional gift suggestions include: personalized business cards, a desktop name-plate, a gift certificate, ergonomically correct accessories, a computer hardware/software upgrade, or a monetary bonus.

I know what you're asking: what about flowers? What about lunch? Well, those are definitely OUT. Those are condescending and antiquated. Those are for Keith Hernandezs only, OK? Your AP is your peer, got it?

Gifts like that also lead to conflicts and inter-office jealousy. What if one AP is taken to a posh Italian restaurant while another is treated to cheap buffet? What if one gets a nice vase of flowers but is a man and feels a little emasculated? What if he secretly thinks, "I should have been a flight attendant, they don't have a special day" and then he quits?

That all goes against the spirit of Administrative Professionals Day which is, namely, to boost an AP's morale by providing perfunctory gratification under duress on a given day. And, so as not to offend anyone, the best policy is probably to keep things as neutral, and uninteresting as possible. This is also the officially sanctioned approach.

In fact, probably the best thing you could do is to treat your AP with class and respect all year round. Treat every day like Administrative Professionals Day and we wouldn’t need an official day, would we? But that’s not how we do things in America. We just celebrated Earth Day, we’re moving to Administrative Professionals Day, and next is the vaunted Mothers Day. (Mom, is that you? Did you get my card? Great, I gotta run.)

I do have one comment to make about the IAAP website. I only see one male AP on the entire front page. What is this? By the way, how would you like to be that dude? Don't let Keith Hernandez find out or he'll come down and have to do some hazing.

And so, to sum up...

Do: keep gifts gender neutral and professionally oriented
Don't: heckle your male administrative professional
Do: treat your AP like a peer
Don't: let one day excuse you from treating your AP like crap the other 364 days of the year. Do: Keep it real. Keep it 2006.
Don't: Stay out of the 50s, man. That's so 1997.

And don't worry, if you didn't do ANYTHING (you imbecile) for your AP today, the official event lasts all week. You still have tomorrow, and Friday, and maybe Saturday if you're making your AP work this weekend.

If you are an AP and work in an office that does not celebrate Administrative Professionals Day please contact the IAAP so a administrative professional sensitivity trainer may be dispatched to your office.

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