Re: Summary: #$ -at- %#^&$# secretary stuff...

Subject: Re: Summary: #$ -at- %#^&$# secretary stuff...
From: Elna Tymes <etymes -at- LTS -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 13 May 1998 10:13:42 -0700

Roger Mallett wrote:
> I had to think twice about including the wage issue, but I wanted to
> take a sideways shot at Elna's remark about her being to good to do
> menial work because she gets paid so much.

OK, gang, this is a great example of how things get off track. I'm not
going to respond to Roger, but I am going to point out just why the wage
issue and making copies is related to technical writing.

Others have pointed out why doing menial tasks tends to create a climate
of assumptions about what you're willing to do as part of your job. I
won't go over that territory again. However, one of the measures of the
marketplace as to your worth is what you get paid to do what you do.
Nobody has to like that, and nobody has to think that it's fair or right
or morally appropriate or anything else - that's just the way things
work. If you get paid a lot, the marketplace tends to accord you more
respect - AND employers are more careful about just what they ask/expect
you to do.

To ask/expect a highly paid professional to routinely take minutes and
make copies is highly cost-INeffective, usually. When that professional
does so on a regular basis, without pointing out to the employer that
this isn't exactly the most cost-effective use of resources, it is a
failure to take responsibility for the economics of a project. Further,
if done on a routine basis, it also undermines the professional's
credibility - if one were to see Andy Grove routinely taking minutes and
making copies for everyone at a meeting, one would wonder about Intel's

If tech writers are striving for respect for what they genuinely add to
a company, or what they can add, it follows that they need to be careful
about the sometimes fuzzy line between just being helpful on an ad hoc
basis and being perceived as the project gofer.

Elna Tymes
Los Trancos Systems

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