Assistant trouble

November 19, 2008

I just read this tidbit from Hugh Jackman, on KEEPING THE PASSION ALIVE in his marriage:

How do you keep the passion alive?
“It’s easy with my wife. She loves the idea of me coming home in costume because it makes her feel like she’s having an affair in a good way. When we met, I was cast as a prisoner with tattoos and she’d say, ‘Don’t take your tattoos off tonight!’ and I’d be like, ‘All right!’ But what works best with her is the stockbroker look. She also says, ‘Do your sexy dance for me — an ’80s-like, hip-swiveling number — and that works for me.”

I am never getting married. NEVER. HORRIBLE. I had a whole argument with another assistant here about this.

ME
Ugh! Listen to this! Hugh Jackman KEEPS THE PASSION ALIVE!

OTHER ASSISTANT
Uh, that’s just ROLEPLAYING, it’s totally normal. Like for instance–

ME
STOP TALKING! STOP TALKING NOW!

OTHER ASSISTANT
You’re really weird.

Normally that assistant and I totally get along, because he likes to talk about things like Cyclops from X-men, and I like to say things like “What does Cyclops do with his eyes when he’s in the shower? Does he have special shower goggles? Why don’t his eye rays burn his own eyelids? If he’s powered by sunlight, why doesn’t he just move into a cave?”

***

You know what the main problem with being an entertainment assistant is? Here, I will give you an example.

Your boss asks for something. A MacGuffin. You don’t have it. IT DOESN’T EXIST. You start to say as much to your boss, but they get that blank look, a look I imagine late-era Roman emperors got when told that there was no way you could have perfume drift down from the ceiling. Your voice trails off.

“I’ll take care of it,” you say.

You spend the next two days begging people you hardly know for favors. PLEASE, your boss REALLY NEEDS the MacGuffin. You get referred from person to person, like a FAVOR RELAY. You threaten, you cajole, you offer minor bribes.

Finally you find someone who agrees to give you the MacGuffin. You have it messengered over to your office. You have brief, pleasant fantasies about how you’ll give the MacGuffin to your boss, and they’ll be really impressed– “Wow! However did you manage THIS? You’re the BEST assistant, I swear…” and then you’ll tell them at length how you managed it and they’ll hang on your every word and go “Wow! I never would have thought of that!” and be admiring.

And the MacGuffin arrives!

YOU WALK THE MACGUFFIN INTO YOUR BOSS’ OFFICE!

THE MORMON TABERNACLE CHOIR SINGS OUT A TRIUMPHANT HALLELUIA!

“Here’s the MacGuffin you asked for,” you say, modestly.

Your boss doesn’t even look up.

“Thanks. Just put it down.”

“…” you say, and put it down.

Then you slink off to your desk, ears all low and mopey.

Sigh.

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7 Responses to “Assistant trouble”

  1. Simone Says:

    Oh my God. The last part — story of my life (in LA).

  2. Simone Says:

    One more thought: the thing is, Boss doesn’t understand that the MacGuffin was difficult to get in the first place. It doesn’t even occur to them that it could possibly be hard to get. They haven’t had to get their own MacGuffin (or anything else) for years, and you’re certainly not going to tell them about your trials and travails in getting it. They think you had to make one call and it appeared instantly.


  3. yeah but Hugh Jackman is so dreamyy… mmmmmmmmm tasty. lol.

    i’m with you on the never getting married part. Fuck marriage.

    yeah, the boss can be a real dickwad when it comes to trying to get the MacGuffin. remember the Harry Potter manuscript in “The Devil Wears a Prada”?!?!

  4. Seth Says:

    The ADs I used to work for always fell into two camps. There were those who remembered that people treated them like crap when they were PAs, and resolved not to do that to other people. And there were those who remembered that people treated them like crap when they were PAs, and therefore saw no reason to give anyone else a break. Which kind you are is the ultimate arbiter of character, to my mind.

    Of course, all ADs have to work their way up, one way or another. Not sure the same is true of executive types. Maybe this guy never had to find MacGuffins.

  5. Elana Says:

    Simone – so true. I think that for someone to rise in the ranks they have to be able to cultivate a profound sense of entitlement. Not that they’re MEAN. They just… want what they want when they want it. I imagine this is why I’ll never be a Powerful Lady executive. I’d always be worried that my assistant was getting upset with me or something.

    Deaf Brown Trash Punk – that movie was startlingly accurate.

    Seth – I think you’re right! Most of the people I’ve worked for have been assistants, but it’s practically Darwinian, I guess. If you’re the kind of person who worries about other people, you don’t get promoted, you presumably leave the business and start a carpet store in Iowa.

  6. dean Says:

    What’s a MacGuffin? Can you get me one?

  7. Elana Says:

    Dean – NO. Ask your own assistant. I’m sure the “What it is, is” Lady will be happy to oblige.


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