In the June 10 Monday Morning Quarterback, a couple of letter-writers complained about the lack of clerical talent in government. This week, several secretaries give their side of the issue. If you are a boss and you find this column in your interoffice mail, maybe somebody is trying to tell you something. Here goes:
*"The letter from the complaining manager was very interesting. He said he typed it himself! Good. Glad he had to do some work for a change!
"Being a secretary isn't easy. We screen calls from irate people, keep the office running smoothly and deal with some strange personalities within our offices. All I have heard for a long time from the boss is 'Type this and give it to me in 20 minutes . . . . Take this to the 11th floor immediately . . . . Pick up a card for my wife's birthday . . . . Go by the credit union for me because I need some cash . . . . Thanks for warning me about this problem before I talked to the big brass . . . . I would have missed this deadline if you hadn't reminded me,' etc.
"All this is fine and dandy. It goes with the job. But when the bucks are handed out, the managers forget there was a secretary who took all the abuse and stuck by him/her until the end of the hot project, who stayed late, who made coffee like a servant.
"Since the manager made the comparison (of the quality of government secretaries v. those in industry) it should be pointed out that secretaries in the private sector make a lot more money.
"A few words to managers: Try a little incentive instead of greed. You make the big bucks because of the little people who serve you. You didn't do it all on your own. Maybe you could get a little quality if you gave some."
Fed Up Federal Secretary
*"The manager who complained that agencies have to train secretaries and typists missed a few points. College graduates hired at much higher salaries often must be trained for six months before they can function . . . even engineers and computer scientists are sent off for training.
"All this government-paid training for professionals makes them more valuable to private industry. They work a few years then leave Uncle Sam holding the bag. Most secretaries stay on the job for years and get the experience that holds an office together.
"Many times there is only one secretary for 15 (or 40) professionals. The secretary has to plan in advance to take time off because the professionals consider it too demeaning to do things like type! I've watched this rip-off of secretaries for over 20 years. I'm glad to be getting out."
From An Anguished Secretary
*"Entry-level federal pay for secretaries ($12,862 to $14,390) is meager by Washington standards. This affects the government's ability to get high quality help, or keep it. The best of the staff usually leaves government service for better pay in the private sector. You get only what you pay for. No professional salaries, no professional demeanor."
*"I work in an office staffed by middle-aged secretaries and bright, young whiz kid bosses who often make -- or would make -- terrible mistakes because they have no background in why things are done the way they are.
"Secretaries are asked to shop for bosses' wives (sometimes girlfriends too!), to cover when they goof or are just goofing off. The secretaries get treated like not-very-bright adolescents. Those who try for promotion are considered "mannish" or too pushy. Those who have given up hope of promotion are considered dumb and happy, or without ambition."
Signed: Ticked Off