In ESSAY on March 30, 2011 at 11:50 am


Personal Albatross

Gbenga Ogundare, Editor- National Standard News Magazine

Before you begin to get angry or feel insulted, know that this piece is personal. It affects me personally. I don’t know if it will affect you personally too. There are so many personal things in this world: personal car (as against family car), personal bodyguard, personal dog, personal cook, et cetera. There is even a personal person. So don’t take it too personal if my jumping into this personal thing raises a splash over your face or drenches your cloth.

Methinks everyone is now fortified as I begin to spin my yarn.

Until now, errand boy, messenger or houseboy is an appendage of the family. An errand boy or messenger is usually uneducated; always at the beck and call of his master and master’s extended family. That seems to be before-before.

Nowadays, being a messenger has become a professional occupation; from answering the phone calls of your boss to attending a function on his behalf. And the messengers are now educated and sophisticated, at least to pick their boss’ cell phone and answer the caller. This professional boy-boy, or, girl-girl, is now proudly known and globally called Personal Assistant.

A few of them are known to be diligently meticulous. They can work like some automatic machine. They’ve been programmed to be courteous and accommodating. You can feel the warmth of life in their interaction with you such that before you know it you’re already feeling like a personal person to the VIP you want to meet or speak with. You can’t help but fall in love with these personal assistants.

Over the years I’ve been falling in love with them till I met some unwieldy personal assistants – personal nuisance!

Imagine my experience with one Billy goat. Ha, for that one I can say it’s a case of like boss, like boy-boy! What was my experience with this personal nuisance, sorry personal assistant to one very popular and powerful governor? In fact, the story full ground but for space, I’ll give you an abridged version. But let me say a prayer here: may you never fall into the temptation of these professional errand boys. They’re generally slaves without sense – not even the common one.

You know, my people, when an idol becomes too condescending it is shown from which wood it is carved. Remember the case of Madam Dora’s errand boy to media house. It was his madam who had headache but he was the one using Panadol Extra to kill the pain. What gain did he get? Madam booted him out of job for poking, too much, his errant nose into family matters. These personal errant/errand assistants can be over-zealous!

There have been plenty unfortunate incidents caused by the so-called personal assistants. By their uncouth attitude and unguarded tongue they usually embarrass their patrons and sometimes, tarnish their image. There was also this saucy P.A. to an erstwhile Health Minister. She made sure that no one – not even the closest colleagues of this minister have access to her. She was one of the sauciest professional errand ladies ever.

No sooner had they been assigned the port folio of P.A. to so-and-so, in their minds they have automatically become the bosses of the masters / mistresses to whom they are no more than pitiable professionals to be sent hither-thither; an extra body to carry the very important person’s trivial burdens like, handbag, brief case, cell phones, newspapers, flight tickets, complimentary cards, et cetera-et cetera.

Little wonder, with all these paraphernalia of the original important persons in their possession, they begin to feel like the very important person. They begin to act arrogantly. They begin to talk arrogantly. Like master, like slave?

Do I blame them? Would I have had any business with them if not for their patrons who seem to have outsourced some vital portion of their existence to some indecorous professionals? It is intriguing. Perhaps, they’ve become suddenly overfed. Perhaps, they’ve become suddenly exposed to the limelight. Perhaps, they’re just dunces with the role of P.A. just thrust upon them. Pitiable personal assistants!

Now, don’t think I am very, very angry with some of these P.A.s. Nay, that can’t be correct. I’m just stentorian, you know. If you see me face-to-face while I’m talking you’ll just be quaking as if Baba Iyabo dey vex with you. Anger ke? I’m just speaking my plain mind. You doubt me? Please trust me. Thank you.

As I was saying before…. These pitiable personal assistants have not only arrogated power to themselves, they’ve become like an albatross to their employers and masters.

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