A blog experiment by Brad Mills.


In which we barely organize Taco Friday for Administrative Professionals Week

Over the years, Secretaries' Day has changed into Administrative Professionals' Day and — apparently quite recently — Administrative Professionals' Week. I am not either of those and neither are many of the people I work with. July 28 (the last Friday in July), however, is Sysadmin Day... and September 13 is Programmers' Day. I'm not sure which of those I am, dipping often enough into both those pools to swim in either. Or both. Especially if there's cake or lunch involved on those days.

After some flailing about with cards and gift certificates or some shit, somebody at my work decided since there was a whole week dedicated to our administrative staff, then maybe we should aim for something a little... well, meatier, I guess. Granted, we still did the card and gift certificate route, but it felt like we were just phoning it in — and that's just not cool. So, Taco Friday came into existence.

If you think this happened in any kind of organized fashion, you'd be wrong.

I heard a couple of coworkers whispering about this late on Thursday afternoon, but the only conversation I heard seemed to be along the lines of "this is a secret, we can't tell any of the secretaries." So naturally I was intrigued. Tensions are high right now and there's talk of cuts, cuts, cuts, because Reasons™, and it sounded like the axe was about to start swinging. After joining in, I finally learned about Taco Friday. Bear in mind... this was Thursday afternoon, and there was nothing as official as an email or anything beyond rumors and whisperings in cubicles.

Finally, an email got to me about half an hour before I was leaving for the day. (The use of passive voice here is intentional. If the email could have quietly slumped into the room with a sigh, it probably would have.) The gist was this: We're doing Taco Friday, it's going to be a surprise, here's a link to a shared spreadsheet where you can sign up to bring something. Well, let's see how this has panned out, I thought, and clicked the link. Only two items had absolutely zero takers:

  • Taco meat
  • Chicken


The few of us who got this final email gathered together to compare notes, and as we looked at the email together, we found that it was originally sent out on Monday, first forwarded to someone in our group on Wednesday, and finally began circulating properly earlier in the day on Thursday. Again, I'm going to stress: this was on Thursday, the day immediately before Taco Friday, and about five or six of us didn't get it until thirty minutes before quitting time. And, it looked like at least some of us would be forced into shopping and cooking for this event at the last minute. After some discussion, one of our little clique finally said, "I guess I can cook. Everybody give me some money for the meat and I'll look for my Crock Pot when I get home." Just for the record, she's in the middle of moving — though really, we're all slammed.

Despite the poor planning, everything went smoothly, and the surprise was kept intact. We think. And now for the twist and lesson. I left for a meeting on Friday, and when I got back to my desk, there were two birthday cards there with neatly printed lists of checked-off names paperclipped to them along with these brief instructions: "Sign and check yourself off. Pass along to someone who isn't checked. Return to _____ when everyone has signed." The names of the birthday folks were redacted, one from each card, as they obviously didn't need to sign their own cards. For each one, the birthdate was listed... both are in mid-May, a couple of weeks out. And the name in the blank, the person collecting the cards after they were finished? One of the administrative staff we were celebrating.

This level of organization and efficiency is why. Had one of them been involved in the planning, no doubt we would have had a full mariachi band.

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