Friday, October 23, 2009

My own personal assistant

I've been getting a great deal of amusement out of the coverage of a Georgetown University student who advertised for a personal assistant. He will pay his assistant an hourly rate and I particularly loved some of his pay restrictions. For example, he would not pay for the full time to do laundry because much of that time was 'dead time' and the assistant could do their own thing while waiting for the laundry to wash or dry.

This has gotten me thinking, however, about what my own ad for a personal assistant would look like. What skills would I want? What things would I have them do to make my life easier and allow me to focus more on the fun aspects of life like doing my research and playing with my baby?

1) Wet Nurse. It may make me a bad mom in some eyes, but I loathe breast feeding. I loathe lugging a pump around. I loathe hiding in my office hooked up to the pump like a milk cow hoping no one can see through the substantial gaps in my blinds. And I really hate having to worry about my breasts leaking during a meeting with students or colleagues. I would pay big money for a wet nurse. Some might think that this rules out men from becoming my personal assistant, but I would like to assure you that I am not sexist. Male lactation has apparently become more common. Lactating women or men are welcome to apply.

2) Doppelganger. My personal assistant needs to look enough like me that I can send them to faculty meetings and pointless committee meetings while I focus on more interesting aspects of my job. Since I normally don't say much at meetings, no one will think it odd if the doppelganger sits there quietly, staring blankly at the walls. As with the Georgetown student and his laundry policy, most of this time can be spent doing something else, so I will only pay for a subset of the time spent in the conference room. Cross-dressing men are welcome to apply.

3) Editing student papers. I am tired of spending my very limited time reading a sentence like "Dawrin, he be high flying"* What does that even mean?! Having the writing assignments that actually reach me know... intelligible would be a big bonus in my quality of life and I could then focus on the big picture 0f grading for content and logic - if I'm not trying to figure out what that sentence actually says...

*yes, I did once receive a student paper with sentence construction and sentiment that was not much different. Misspelling Darwin in my own touch.

4) University Spam Filter. Yes, my university email does filter spam. However, my university itself is the biggest generator of spam and apparently it does not filter itself. I'm sent everything from thrice yearly announcements that the music department is selling old pianos to messages forwarded from the Vice Provost of Research to the Sponsored Programs Office, from Sponsored Programs to the Dean, from the Dean to her assistant, from the assistant to everyone in the college (email addresses of all 100+ of us in the email header) on a research opportunity that expired three weeks ago. Definitely pre-filtering my email for me will be a major component of my assistant's job.

5) Laundry. Long gone are the days when General Disarray and I could go two weeks between laundry days. I won't say that Baby Mayhem is capable of spinning her head around 360 degrees to projectile vomit on everything within a 6 foot radius, but somehow we now seem to do laundry daily. Much of this laundry involves the three different outfits I have to change into each day because of 'mishaps'.

I'm sure I'm missing other duties I would expect of my personal assistant, but this seems like a good start. If anyone sees any glaring holes in duties, feel free to suggest them! You might want to suggest quickly, though, because as soon as I get a raise from my University, I'll post my ad. Oh..right...the raise...well, take your time...


Prof-like Substance said...

Hmmmm, I would include intimate knowledge of the campus so that directions can be provided to every nim wit who knocks on my door to ask if I know where or who XX is, like someone is messing with me and put "INFORMATION" on my door.

Document submission - to deal with the counter-intuitive submission websites for journals and funding agencies.

Schedule guardian - This would involve automatically saying no to any meeting, event, get together, gathering or shindig that occurs during the time I need to get shit done. This is a task I am apparently not capable of.

Word verification = patistr, which would also be a requirement.

Anonymous said...

Detour for students looking for research experience because they need 1 credit to graduate, and of course only an A is an acceptable grade - this would involve using those orange sticks that are needed to guide airplanes. The assistant would need to learn how to get the students from your lab/office to an exit door since the students don't comprehend english or the word NO. Experience using orange sticks in any capacity required.

warning system - this would involve yelling a secret code word, like FIRE!, or using a walkie-talkie when certain time-suckers are seen en route to your office to hang out. Assistant must be able to lift 50 lbs, just in case office furniture needs to be used as a physical blockade.

madscientist said...

I like the idea of a schedule guardian. I get a lot of e-mails that say things like "send me your availability in 30 minute intervals for the next 2 months." WTF?

I would like a cook. Like, a good cook. I am not saying that I am a bad cook, or that my wife (who hates to cook), doesn't make an excellent bean soup (uh...), but it would be nice to get home at 6:00 and have dinner waiting AND a happy wife. These two do not mix. Therefore, I typically cook.

I have recently found out that graduate students can sight up for a technical communication class, in which the sole purpose of the class is to help them write (a) paper(s). I don't have to help them with grammar anymore! (which is good because I don't actually know grammar...) You should check and see if your U had tech comm!

Candid Engineer said...

I love this post. That is all.

Anonymous said...

Cleaning. And dishes. Maybe even some tidying, while they're waiting for the laundry to be done, in which case I would pay them for the full time!

Professor Chaos said...

Oh, yes, you all are totally right I forgot:
1) Answering directions (I don't normally get people stopping by my office. Instead they drive up next to me when I'm walking across campus and stall traffic while they ask about some building I've never heard of.

2)Advance scout. Like the secret service for the president, I would need my personal assistant to scout out safe routes through the department so I avoid the people who seem to have nothing better to do than chat about inane things in the hallway for half an hour. This may also require my assistant to occasionally throw themselves in front of conversational bullets so I may escape safely.

3) Be my office neighbor's schedule keeper. This might seem wierd, but the faculty member next door to me teaches one of the ginormous lectures and his students don't seem to understand that I don't have a GPS collar on their teacher. After I tell them that I have no idea where he is, they often keep standing in my doorway blinking at me like I just told them Santa Claus doesn't exist.