My day job is making me sick

I can no longer deny it.

My day job as an assistant is making me physically ill.

This is what no one will tell you about being in an indie rock band, being an artist really, that you will most likely have to work a job to pay the bills and that’s fine except when you work for crazy people. People who are furious you have any kind of life or aspirations outside of work (which everyone does, even those not trying to make it as a band or a writer). And even if you do a great job. Because I’m the best assistant my bosses have ever had. They’ve told me. But doing a great job isn’t enough because sometimes when you’re hired as an assistant, what they really want is a servant or even a slave.

Sorry to get all dramatic but I’m reaching the end of my tolerance of working for The Man. This past year, I’ve suffered from quite a few stress-related illnesses. The latest being iritis in my left eye. I have never gotten this before.

left eye

And last May I contracted a horrible cankersore-like outbreak that made it painful and pretty impossible to eat. See how it looked like burns on my tongue?

mouthI was informed that this is something children usually get. Of course, my dad was convinced it was trench mouth.

I have a horrible time sleeping on Sundays and yes, I’ve always had bad bouts with insomnia but this has become a constant thing recently. So bad that a couple times a week I have to take Lorazepam at night to quell my anxieties.

My day job as an assistant is very stressful. I say to people it’s akin to being an air traffic controller or at least the people I work for. I work for one crazy person in particular which I have dubbed The Granola Dictator.

Where do I even start with this insane person. She’s an inch or two shorter than me (and I’m five feet nothing) and she’s a tyrant. She’s emotionally disturbed. Her husband is a working musician and is often away on tours. He also is an alumni of Oberlin as I am so whenever he’s away or not doing what she’s asked him to do (because she’s the breadwinner and he’ll play 5 nights a week at restaurants unless she reigns him in) she takes it out me. I’m her proxy punching bag.

I mean it’s all so laughable or at least I thought it was.

The Granola Dictator will mark up every page with a barrage of light pencil squiggles of 100 page leases and demand that I and only I enter in all her changes anyway from 6-8 hours of work if I’m uninterrupted and I work for 3 other people so I’m never uninterrupted. We have a word processing department that’s supposed to do this kind of work but only recently has she let me use them with the insistence of HR. But then she asked “Is it all completely correct?” and tried to make me proofread the entire thing even the legal language, yelling at me that a word that wasn’t written in the sentence she wrote was missing. She basically wants me to do her job because she’s miserable but 99.9% of lawyers I know are.

I finally won this battle and rarely do these jobs for her, But yesterday she wouldn’t let me send an involved copying and collating job to the Copy Center because she didn’t want to charge the client for it so she wasted my whole afternoon when I had other work I needed to get done. But I didn’t finish her job because our communal copy machines don’t have the high capacity that was needed and my ridiculous job was constantly being interrupted by other people. I just left her railing at the poor Copy Center and went home.


This is all very boring. I know! I don’t want to be talking about this but she is the most miserable person on earth and she’s making me physically ill. She stomps around with her sour earth woman face, angry that she has no real power. She can’t make me stay late. I’m not required to do overtime (thank god) but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t apply the pressure on me every week. She never asks, she asks the other assistants who want the overtime money but she’s never asked me, she just says I need you to stay. Well FUCK YOU. I’m not staying. The only time I did was for our company holiday party. I was sick with a horrible cold/cough two days before but I came in so I could attend the holiday party with Mark.

But The Granola Dictator cancelled those plans of mine. She saved up another crazy document that she had two days to give to Word-Processing but instead left it for me, saying, “Someone is going to have to miss the Christmas party.”

And I couldn’t let anyone else miss it. So I stayed an hour or two with Mark helping me to finish this project. But by the time I finished at 8 pm, I was so sick and had to go home. And when I submitted my overtime and Mark’s, she hit the roof saying she didn’t approve of two people working on this. But it was the same amount of money we just got it done faster.

And she went to the Christmas party.

Whenever I’m out, sick or vacation day or when the whole city is shut down due to a snow day, she punishes me. She sent me all these documents to print when the office was closed due to snow and was furious I hadn’t printed them at home.

Another battle I have won is that she wanted me to have a blackberry and be accessible to her and her inane insane emails at home. She tried to bribe me with giving me an old Mac of hers.

I said, “Why do I need to have access at home?”

“So I can reach you.”

“What, like on my vacation?”

“No, you get your vacation unlike me.”

“On my sick days? Because when I call out sick, I’m pretty sick.”

“No on snow days.”

“The office is closed on snow days and if I’m on Citrix, Id’ have to do work for the whole firm.”

“Well I work for the whole firm.”

Yeah and I thought what I always think, and that’s why you make the big bucks. Suck it up!

But I said nothing.

So she added, “It’s not mandatory, just think about it. You could have a blackberry and a Mac.”

I said I’d think about it just to appease and stall her volcanic fury but an hour later I said I thought about it and I’d pass.

That was the last time she demanded I have off-site access but she had tried a dozen times to manipulate me into it.

She’s also tried to groom me to be a partially a paralegal which is the second worse job on the planet next to a lawyer. You have some status, really the status of a slug but at least you think you have status but they own you. There is no protection, no “I can’t work late” because you’re one of them and therefore your personal life does not matter.

When I said I had no interest in being a paralegal or part paralegal, she said, “You know this [meaning being an assistant] is not a career.”

I just laughed and said, “Yeah I know.”

That was highly offensive but I found it amusing. Wow, you think you’re really going to sway me by dangling the carrot of a crappy corporate slug status of a paralegal when we wrote a song called “I Hate My Job”?

About Andrea

Andrea DeAngelis is at times a poet, writer, shutterbug and musician living in New York City. Her writing has recently appeared in Molotov Cocktail and Timeless Tales Magazine. ( Andrea also sings and plays guitar in the indie rock band MAKAR ( who are recording their third album, Fancy Hercules.
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4 Responses to My day job is making me sick

  1. MissMystra says:

    Just went through the same thing myself. Over two years as an personal assistant/secretary/office babysitter at a movie reviewing company (hoping that it might eventually turn into a writing position, which, of course, it never did). Both my soon-to-be husband and I worked there and my boss would yell at the top of his lungs at me every time anything went wrong–even projects that I wasn’t involved in–and even though it wasn’t in my agreement, he’d demand I constantly be on call and come in on weekends sometimes. On top of all that, I was trying to plan my wedding, which is already stressful! My husband and I made a pact to apply for new jobs and when he got accepted by an out of state company, we decided it was worth leaving California to escape the tyranny. I cried tears of joy the day I walked out of there for the last time.

    So *virtual hugs* I totally know what you’re going through and it sounds like you’re handling it the best you can. In this economy, it’s never as simple as “just get another job”, but maybe find a staffing agency that might be able to search for opportunities, since I’m sure you don’t have time for filling out tons of job applications.

    • Andrea says:

      I really appreciate your comment. Today, I almost quit. Being an assistant is like being an air traffic controller sometimes in regards to stress. You’re completely under appreciated and asked to do crazy things by lazier and lazier bosses. The problem is I get paid well and can do some band admin stuff at work which I call “taking time from The Man” and I have actually no interest in looking for a new job. Maybe some day I’ll overcome the inertia or able to do art for a living.

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