The preferred term in the workplace

The Ex-Executive Assistant, a story published on Tuesdays and Thursdays in a limited number of installments
"The Ex-Executive Assistant" is a comedic story about a young man who loses both his job and his girlfriend on the same day.

Recap: In the previous chapter, Lyle was talking to Chad, a fellow journalism major he knew years ago in college. Whereas Lyle is unemployed and unable to find a job in the media industry, Chad is currently a TV production assistant and a former staffer of the New York Times. Chad tells Lyle that he needs to bolster his job search by joining LinkedIn. Lyle says that he’s always shied away from social networks — as he isn’t social. “Well, then,” Chad says, “I think we discovered your problem.” 

Lyle looked at Chad, his head tilted. “You think my antisocial attitude is why I don’t have connections?”

“Well, it’s a far-reaching theory, but that’d be my guess.”

Lyle sighed. “It’s not that I don’t like people. I do. It’s just that I’m so socially awkward.”

“How can you say that?” Chad asked.

“Four years of high school, that’s how. I don’t remember much about algebra, world history or American literature. What I do remember is everyone treating me like a demented social outcast.”

“You can’t cling to bitter memories. Besides, high school’s supposed to be brutal. It’s a rite of passage into adulthood.”

“That must be why adulthood’s so brutal. It’s a rite of passage into death.”

Chad snorted. “You’re morbid, man. I forgot about your bleak and dreary personality.”

“I wondered why you were so excited when you recognized me. I rarely get that reaction.”

“Listen, dude. The past is the past. Whatever happened in high school doesn’t matter anymore. It didn’t even matter then.”

“It did too matter then. I didn’t develop my bleak and dreary personality in a vacuum.”

“Why worry about the past? What good can it do?”

“I don’t worry about the past — I regret it. Besides, it’s the future I worry about.”

“What’s there to worry about?”

“I worry I’ll end up regretting it.”

Chad shook his head. “You’re right, man — you are socially awkward. And that’s being generous.”

“It does put a strain on forging new relationships.”

“If you’re shy, you got to find a way to deal with it. And soon.”

“I did find a way to deal with it. A very good way. Unfortunately, I’m not drinking anymore.”

“Seriously, you got to get over it,” Chad said. “Try joining LinkedIn. It’s a good place to start — especially for you. You can meet people without actually interacting with them.”

“Ah, the marvels of technology.”

“I mean it. What have I been saying about networking and success?”

Lyle nodded. “I know, I know. You have a point.”

“Of course I have a point. You got to get out of your comfort zone and try something new.”

“Maybe I will,” Lyle said. “I have been going through a lot of changes lately. And so far, I’ve been exceeding at unemployment and singledom. It might be time for a new challenge.”

“It might be.” Chad belched and chucked his beer bottle at the nearest trash can. It missed by a good seven feet, landing on the lawn.

“If I join LinkedIn, I’ll send you my first friend request,” Lyle said.

“You do that. Just don’t be hurt if I don’t respond.”

Lyle’s face fell. “What do you mean?”

“Well, you’re unemployed with an obsolete skill set. It wouldn’t look good to have you for a friend.”

“Since when are my skills obsolete?”

“Since the newspaper industry starting hemorrhaging money. You just told me that.”

“Yeah, but …” Lyle shrugged. “Things could change. You even said so yourself. It could all turn around.”

“Yeah, but how long do you want to wait?” Chad asked. “You could spend the rest of your life waiting for newspapers to make a comeback. Or, you could be proactive and try something new.”

“I tried secretarial work. You can see how that worked out.”

“You can’t wait for things to change,” Chad said. “You’re the one who needs to change. You need to adapt, evolve — pick up a new skill.”

“I just agreed to join LinkedIn,” Lyle said. “Let’s take things one step at a time.”

“I’m not trying to sound harsh. I’m just trying to share knowledge. I used to be a manager, so I know how the game’s played.”

“Where were you a manager?”

“At the Times. And in Elko. And I’m on the fast track at Channel 4.”

Lyle frowned. “So how are you doing it? What do you know?”

Chad smiled. “It’s simple. It’s all about delegating.”

“Delegating?”

“That’s right. Delegating.”

Lyle scrunched his lips. “But isn’t that where you just shuffle work onto somebody else?”

“That’s the essence, yes. But ‘delegating’ is the preferred term in the workplace.”

“So … I don’t get it,” Lyle said. “Are you saying the key to success is getting other people to do your work?”

Chad grinned. “Think of every executive you know — every president and CEO. And think of every politician across the country, in all levels of government.”

“I’m not sure I can. I don’t like to think bad thoughts.”

“Indulge me,” Chad said. “Now, can you tell me exactly what any one of them does all day? Besides maybe having their pictures appear in one of those failing newspapers you used to work for?”

Lyle frowned. “Actually … no.”

“That’s right. That’s because they don’t do anything. They don’t know how to do anything. They got where they are by delegating the actual work to others.”

“People do this?”

“Not everyday people, Lyle. Successful people.”

“What about the everyday people?”

“They’re the ones doing the actual work that creates the success.”

“Oh.” Lyle frowned. “So for me to be successful, I need to push my work onto other people?”

“Not ‘push.’ ‘Delegate.’”

“Right. Delegate.” Lyle nodded. “OK. I think I get it.”

“You see? It’s simple. Others do the work, and you take all the credit. It’s the American way.”

“Yeah,” Lyle said. “That makes sense. And I always wondered why the harder I worked, the more accolades my boss received.”

Chad pointed at him. “Success, brother, is within everyone’s grasp. You just have to climb over everybody else to reach it.”

“It’s too bad we lost touch,” Lyle said. “Your career advice could have come in handy.”

Chad smiled. “You thirsty? I’m thirsty.”

Lyle nodded. “I’m getting thirsty.”

“You want a cool one?”

“Nah. I’m not drinking. I might take a soda, though.”

“Sounds good. Grab me a beer while you’re at it, will you? The ice chest is over by the back door.”

“Any particular kind?” Lyle asked, walking toward the cooler.

“Surprise me,” Chad said. Then, under his breath, and wearing an ear-to-ear grin, he said: “That, my friend, is how you delegate.”

Author: Allen

I’m a humorist and fiction writer, as well as the author of two books. One is a collection of humor, and one is a collection of short stories. Both books are available on Amazon. I always wanted to write a comic strip, but I can’t draw. Not even a stick-person. So that’s why “The Lawn-Cutting Crew” is a comic strip without drawings. I hope you enjoy!

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