Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Visions of Huddles and Butt Smacking

Woo hoo!! Football!!

When my temp agency called and told me I was going to be working at the NFL I totally laughed. I had visions of manly men walking around saying "You the man!" to each other all day. I was only partly wrong.

I was the Executive Assistant to the President and CEO of the NFL (look him up, I'm not dropping this name). The only person higher on the food chain was Commissioner Goodell, and he was just down the hall. I also was assisting the COO, a lovely, smart woman who was beyond helpful and required almost no assistance.

The NFL is very corporate. My wardrobe is very corporate-lite, so I felt under dressed most of the time. But everyone was so nice. As each person came by the desk, I was welcomed with a smile and a handshake. It was very evident that the people who work for this organization are happy and satisfied with the work they get to do, which is such a nice and refreshing change from some of the pits of doom I have been working at.

As nice as everyone was, there was also an underlying look of concern. Chris, the guy who trained me and was nominated to be my baby sitter, was very precise and made sure I knew exactly what was expected of me. The way he was tip-toeing around made me very aware of the intimidation factor the Boss had with these people. His LA assistant, Kim, called and emailed me regularly, and made sure I knew to not take anything He said personally. Funny thing is, I am not easily intimidated, and I found all this concern fairly amusing. Yes, the Boss is high up in the company, Yes, he is a VIP, but he's just another person. He wasn't scary at all to me.

I had asked Chris how to talk to the Boss regarding his phone calls. Do I run into his office to tell him who was on the line, do I yell from my desk. Chris said he usually yelled, and he had seen past assistants do the same, so I followed his lead. After a half a day of yelling to Him, he said, "You have an intercom, use it." Chris didn't know how to use it, so we pushed buttons and tried to figure it out. Turned out to be pretty easy, just hold the TALK button and talk. So I began to faithfully use the intercom, and He continued to yell at me from his office.

On my second day, the Boss was unoccupied, and He was wandering around the office, stopping into offices to chat. At one point He stopped right next to my desk and was just standing there. After a beat, I said, "How's it goin'?" He looked at me a little startled, recovered, and said with a smile, "It's goin' good, how's it going with you?" "Just dandy." I replied, and he wandered back into his office. I don't know if he was trying to intimidate me, or if he just happened to end up there, but the ice was broken.

He came out one day and asked me if I knew how to call a car. Those of us who have spent any time here in the city have called a car once or twice. I must have looked at him like he was nuts, and after a few moments he said, "Well?" I told him, "I think I can handle that." and was probably a bit too sarcastic about it, but he was impressed that I took care of it so quickly.

I was temping at the NFL because a new assistant had been hired in LA and was to relocate to NYC, but had run into some personal problems so she was delayed. So Kim, in LA, was doing all the heavy lifting of this job, and I was basically there to answer the phone. The Boss' phone was to be answered at all costs. Absolutely no voicemails allowed. This caused a bit of a problem when I needed to go to the bathroom. People had to be called, schedules rearranged, all so I could go pee. When I asked Kim about the procedure for taking a lunch, she said, "Hmm, no one has ever asked me that before." You know I figured out a lunch schedule, I need my lunch.

My second week at the job, Kim called and told me that the new assistant had come in early, dropped off her security credentials and quit. She asked me if I was interested in temp to perm. My decision caused some controversy among my loved ones. I had spent a lot of time on this job doing nothing. Answered the phone, called a few cars and typed and faxed a letter to the Commissioner of the Pac-Ten. Not rocket science. Apparently, there had been a lot of morons on this job, because I was praised over and over by what a good job I had been doing. People, this was not challenging work. When Kim asked me about staying on, I easily told her I was just interested in temp work. I had had a lot of time to think what it would be like to do this job day after day, and I wasn't liking what I was seeing.

My first clue was the Blackberry charger on the desk. Once I leave I job, I am gone. My time off the clock is my own, and the thought of my boss being able to contact me whenever he wanted gave me visions of prison cells. Add to that the enormous effort it took for me to take any kind of break, bathroom or otherwise. How many bladder infections would I get? How many lunches would I be taking at my desk? Not to mention, even though I didn't really care about this job, I acquired a heeee-uge cold sore my fourth day there. I don't need that kind of stress.

So, I had a little over two weeks of rubbing elbows with the NFL VIPs. My Boss was actually charming and fun. I have no idea why everyone was so intimidated by him. I heard the F-bomb flying out of his and his colleagues mouths on a regular basis during meetings. Kim told me that He was in an amazingly good mood once I got rolling, and she attributed it to me and my competence (crazy how just answering the phone right can impress people so much!). Personally, I think He was in such a good mood because he was getting ready to go out to his home in Beverly Hills, which I think he liked way more than his NY apartment. But I'll take the praise when I can get it.

Cool things I saw:

  • The Vince Lombardi trophy

  • Tom Landry's hat (you know I'm a big Cowboys fan)

  • The Division Championship and Superbowl rings

  • 15 Emmy's, all in my Boss' office

Cool people I talked to:

  • Joe Theisman (I had to call him on his cell)

  • Deion Sanders (twice)

  • Mel Karmazin

  • Jerry Jones' secretary (what? I said I was a big cowboys fan)

Not bad for 11 days at the desk.

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