Even though Administrative Professionals Day has passed, it’s important to remember how vital these men and women are in the workplace.

Years ago, my pops expressed simple words of wisdom: “The secretary and janitor are your friends.” After I started working, I really began to understand what he meant by that.

I recently had the opportunity to speak at the Boardman Chamber of Commerce luncheon, which also served to acknowledge the importance of administrative assistants. The chamber’s notice about the meeting referred to them as employees “that keep our workplaces going like a well-oiled machine.” While my presentation was light-hearted and fun (at least for me), I certainly have appreciated co-workers who have worked in this capacity — whether their official job title is receptionist, secretary, clerical support, office manager or administrative assistant.

During my presentation, which was a bit of a stand-up routine, I joked about how professional assistants have a particular skill set, including that as a sort of air traffic controller through their ability to screen phone calls. Every boss or co-worker truly appreciates this — especially when someone calls five minutes before lunch or quitting time.

Another skill that seems to be universal with administrative assistants is the “phone voice.” Tiah Estrabrook, who I previously worked with at Umatilla County Mental Health’s alcohol and drug program had this one down to a fine art.

She could be rattling on (more like barking out commands) about what I needed to do to finish up a client file and suddenly the phone would ring. Tiah would stop mid-sentence, pick up the phone and very pleasantly say, “Good morning, Umatilla County Mental Health. This is Tiah, how can I help you?”

Equally impressive is the ability for professional assistants to decipher even the worst of handwriting. I know because I’ve worked with several people over the years that have truly amazed me.

Kathy Brittain, who worked the graveyard shift at Betah Enterprises, didn’t have the luxury of knocking on my door to double-check what I had written. Yet, she always seemed to be able to figure it out what my chicken scratch said. And, Tiah always reminds me of the time I went to her with my notes and asked her what I had written.

Between now and next April’s Administrative Professionals Day, I urge you to regularly express appreciation to those who help make your job easier. And, it would be great if Tiah or Kathy could stop by the newsroom in the next couple of weeks and help me decipher some of my reporter notebooks.

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Tammy Malgesini is the community editor. Her column, Inside my Shoes, includes general musings about life. Contact her at tmalgesini@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4539.

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