8 horror stories for Administrative Professionals’ Day

Administrative Professionals’ Day is today, so please enjoy these horror stories submitted by readers in the past.

1. The dance lesson

For Administrative Professionals’ Day (a “holiday” that must die), my company used to order snacks and cheap wine and give us a little token like a mug with the company name on it. One year they decided to jazz it up by hiring ballroom dancing instructors and making us learn the mambo and cha cha. But they were all couple dances, so our 95% female admin staff got to deal with shouted instructions like, “Decide which one of you is the guy!”

2. The gifts

At my org, for Administrative Professionals’ Day, all the regular admin support staff (all women) were always gifted fancy bouquets. I like flowers, but I could only ever enjoy them at work, because they always had lilies and I have cats. It turned out that the shipper/receiver, who was the line man in our bargaining unit, always received a Visa gift card equivalent to the cost of the flowers, but no one noticed because his job was so separate from ours. It didn’t come out until another man was hired for a regular admin support position, and then a fuss was rightly made, we were given the choice between flowers or gift card, and everyone chose gift card. Since then, they don’t even bother asking, just give the gift card.

3. The mulch

For Administrative Professionals’ Day, which my male boss called “Secretaries’ Day,” the three male CEOS in our department made a big deal about “getting their girls flowers” (this was in 2016, by the way). All four of us admins had more education and professional credentialing than those particular executives did so there was a lot about that place that irked me. Finally, Administrative Professional’s Day comes around and they bring two giant wheelbarrows full of mulch and manure into our white-carpeted lobby along with three giant bags of tulip bulbs, saying we were given the day off to go plant the tulips around the existing landscaping since we all “loved gardening.” The company dress code at that point was still stockings, heels, skirts, and suits and I was in a linen pantsuit that day. None of us ever mentioned gardening. Ever. At all. In any way. They just thought women loved gardening. When buildings and grounds came by to get the gardening materials out of the lobby, they let it slip that our bosses eagerly asked if they could use the mulch and wheelbarrows for a “prank.” The joke was on them because the CEO and VP were fuming about the stains on the carpet from the wheelbarrows. I quit shortly after that anyway.

4. The cake

For Administrative Professionals’ Day, I had reminded my boss (head of office, I was his personal admin) that the day was coming. I offered to prepare for it (he declined), I made a list of plans he could follow through on, HR offered to coordinate it. The morning of he told me he’d done nothing and I needed to make it happen but then I could take the afternoon off.

I went into planner mode, ordered food on my credit card for him to reimburse, got a cake, got decorations and lunch went perfectly. Except he made me sit back in the closed office and sit next to his phone in case he got a call, while he told everyone in the lunch event how great he was for planning this. Then he sent all the other admins home. Oh, except me. He instead decided to go continue his affair with the individual in the office downstairs (AND TOOK THE LEFTOVER CAKE) and made me sit next to his phone for the rest of the afternoon. I never even got a slice of cake.

30 days later I had an offer in hand and gave my notice. I didn’t exactly care about the day but I sure cared about the disrespect on that day. His affair didn’t work out; he got divorced, new affair partner eventually took out a restraining order on him and it blew up publicly as these were all public officials.

5. The roses

On Administrative Professionals’ Day, all the women would arrive to work to find a lovely single red rose (in a vase, of course, tied with a pretty pink or red ribbon) on her desk. And, I do mean ALL the women. From the controller all the way to the actual admin assistant, regardless of what the woman’s actual role was. At the time, it never really crossed my mind that that might be inappropriate (plus, I confess, I was thrilled to receive the rose – it really was very lovely) , but looking back I’m just like, wow. LOL

The roses were purchased by the sales manager – he kind of fancied himself a ladies man and maybe he thought he was just being gentlemanly. Who knows.

6. The tool

At the time I was a subject matter expert for a particular tool and someone proudly gave me flowers (why) and a card (huh). “Thanks for all you do for us!” He seemed to think that my constant discussions with him about improving work processes in relation to this tool was me taking NOTES for him. No, dumbass, this is my job and I’m gently trying to make you better at yours.

7. The casino night

HR organized an employee appreciation event at a local casino. They rented a large meeting space and had cocktails and appetizers … and the admins needed to provide the bartending and waitressing services!

8. The engineers

On one Administrative Professionals’ Day, one of my friends came home from work in a fury. She’s a female engineer. The company decided to celebrate Administrative Professionals’ Day by giving all the admins flowers. And, for some reason, the three female engineers on staff.

Management was completely befuddled by the fact that the female engineers were not delighted with their flowers.

{ 365 comments… read them below }

  1. higher ed prof*

    For teacher appreciation at my workplace (higher ed), faculty received what was essentially a bag of party favors for an elementary school birthday party. It was full of useless and/or cheap plastic items, each with a symbolic meaning. That symbolic meaning was helpfully included on a small card — a butterfly for the transformations we make in our students, crayons for creativity, etc.

    No one I’ve spoken to felt the least bit appreciated by this. Budgets are tight, but they could at least have given something useful, like a pack of Expo markers.

    1. ferrina*

      Why doesn’t anyone every attach symbolic meaning to useful stuff?

      “I give you markers, for the marks you leave on your students’ souls”
      “I give you notebooks, for every day is a new possibility to write your story”
      “I give you a stapler and lots of extra staples, because you hold everything together”
      “I give you very nice pens in a variety of colors, for life is a rich tapestry and we should celebrate individuality”
      “I give you a day of PTO, to symbolize how self-care and self-reflection helps us constantly grow”

      (my company actually did the last one- it was AMAZING. that alone bought at least 3 years of loyalty from me)

    2. A single, solitary newt*

      “Symbolic” gifts are rarely worth it. At my last job, they send us employee appreciation packages that included a few beat-up granola bars and a single envelope of hot chocolate. As in, they bought boxes of hot chocolate mix, opened them, and gave one packet to each of us. Not sure what on earth that was supposed to symbolize.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*


        I did get a bouquet at a previous job, but it didn’t necessarily compensate for all the rubbish I had to put up for the rest of the year.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I’ve found that the majority of the time, symbolic work gifts mainly symbolize the giver’s obtuseness/cheapness.

      3. Michelle Smith*

        My first boss at my last job bought us nice candy and wrote a heartfelt, handwritten card when the couple of us who were hired together started. I did not like that kind of candy, but I kept the note on my bulletin board for the entire 4 years I worked there. It’s like some employers don’t seem to understand that you don’t actually have to spend a lot of money to engender goodwill with your employees! That boss got it. Sorry yours seemed to be in the other camp. :(

      4. Matey8*

        We once received one packet of microwave popcorn for every two people. (As one packet apparently contained two suggested servings when popped.) They even lifted the ban on microwaving popcorn at work that day. I don’t think anyone participated.

    3. tiredteach*

      Our district used to give out $2 lottery scratch-offs for Teacher Appreciation Day (Week). In the more than 15 years they did this, I never won anything. I think the most anyone ever won was $10.

      1. Boom! Tetris for Jeff!*

        Hahaha, we give you lottery tickets for a chance to win big so we don’t have to pay you a decent salary or cover classroom expenses! How clever! /s

    4. LC*

      I work in K-12 and principals love to give out things like:

      – a bag of Doritos because “you’re all that and a bag of chips”
      – a teabag because “we think you’re the tea!”
      – a mint because “thank you for your commit-mint”

      I’d rather they just skip teacher appreciation week than give us crap we have to pretend to be thankful for.

      1. singularity*

        Ugh, I’m also a teacher and I’m dreading it this year. We always manage to get free food that I don’t want, like those pre-packaged cupcakes or snack cakes, small bags of chips meant for a child’s lunchbox, or juice boxes and soda.

        I’ve never gotten anything useful as a Teacher Appreciation gift and I’ve been teaching for over ten years.

        1. Teachcatz*

          I’m a teacher (15 years now at the same school) and some years they definitely do better than others! Last year was a camp chair, which was a pretty good one!

      2. Blarg*

        “Oh, I misunderstood. I thought the tea bag was a suggestion that we ”spill the tea” about you and the school. Sorry if you didn’t want us sharing the gossip.”

      3. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

        Former teacher here and K-12 teachers are pretty routinely treated and talked to like children. I’ve seen administration start a faculty meeting by raising one hand in the air and putting a finger over their lips, turning off the room lights, etc. You know, the way you get the attention of 6 year olds. I taught 5th grade and those methods were too childish for even them. It’s pretty discouraging tbh.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          To be fair, sometimes we teachers are the WORST about continuing to chat when it’s time to start the meeting. I have said, “We are worse than the students,” many a time.

      4. Empress Ki*

        just a tea bag and a mint, not even a box of tea bags and a box of mints ? I suppose you’re lucky you weren’t given just one dorito.

    5. Turanga Leela*

      My partner is a teacher, and he told me the only really good Teacher Appreciation Week event was when the school hired a massage therapist to give free massages in the teachers’ lounge. Other than that, he said he’d just like snacks to keep in his classroom.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        Alison, is there a reason my comments keep going to moderation? I sometimes log in from work and sometimes from home, so I realize the site might be reacting to my changing IP address, but please let me know if there’s something I should be doing differently.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Not that I can see! But it looks like it was just the last two. Sometimes the moderation filter makes weird decisions that I can’t parse out. If it keeps happening, email me and I will troubleshoot!

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            I’ve been getting this a lot too, fwiw. I’ll email next time it happens.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Just to clarify — if it’s happening every time you comment (and it’s been more than two or three in a row), email me and I’ll investigate. If it’s happening only occasionally, that’s just the moderation filter doing its thing and not a sign something is wrong.

      2. BlueSwimmer*

        Another teacher here and have gotten so many cheap, lame symbolic gifts over the years. But…one year, the PTA president had her own catering business and she set up a baked potato bar for the teachers. It was AMAZING.

        1. shedubba*

          I’d love to hear from teachers, what are some *good* teacher appreciation gifts/gestures that you’ve gotten? I’m on the PTA board next year and I’d love input. I know this year we’re doing a taco/nacho bar one day (with vegan and gluten-free options), and there’s a snack cart that goes around one day with small snacks and sodas for all the teachers, and there’s a day where parents and community partners send in a bunch of school supplies.

          1. Lizzianna*

            I’m on the PTA, and we do:

            – Coffee (one of the parents owns a mobile coffee cart (like a food truck, but for coffee and donuts), we hire her to come make coffee for the teachers as they get to work
            – Lunch (catered or we hire a food truck)
            – Gift bags with a t-shirt, some inexpensive treats from the “favorite things” list all the teachers fill out at the start of the year, and a Visa, Amazon, or Target gift card with whatever money we have left over from the budget (usually $30-$50).

            We also do door decorations for each of the classrooms.

            I’ve gotten great feedback from the teachers. I know not everyone likes every part of it (not everyone can eat sandwiches, and all…), but overall, they seem to enjoy it.

          2. New Jack Karyn*

            I worked at a school with a really supportive PTA. Monthly meals ( either breakfast or lunch), often themed to the month. Or like, a soup and chili smorgasbord in the winter. And the meals were all explicitly for all staff, not just teachers.

          3. Turanga Leela*

            Update from my partner: This year, someone sent him a survey asking several questions:
            Would you like someone to visit your classroom for Teacher Appreciation Week?
            What is your t-shirt size?
            What’s your favorite snack? Do you have any allergies?
            What is something you want or need for your classroom?

            Today, a guy dropped by. Based on my partner’s survey responses, the guy gave him a (nice) t-shirt, some snack bags of Goldfish crackers and some Lara bars, and a big pack of blue painter’s tape. Also a note saying that he’s really appreciated and making a difference for his students.

            My partner says this is the most appreciated he’s every felt.

          4. Dark Macadamia*

            Last year I helped the PTSA with teacher appreciation (as a parent) and one day we gave them coupons for a free car wash at a local car wash chain. I thought that was really weird but apparently the staff requested it because it was such a huge hit the year before?

            Personally, I appreciate stuff directly from students (I’ve seen schools do things like every kid brings a flower for the teacher’s bouquet, or they all make cards, etc) and food. The school where I work now has PTSA provide lunch on our monthly staff meeting day and we’re all always happy lol.

          5. KattySecretary*

            PLEASE make sure Teacher Appreciation Week is actually [School Name] Staff Appreciation Week. Our lowest paid employees are the least recognized and nothing is more hurtful than being left out when you make $10/hr when you also stay well after your contract hours end.

            Salad Bar/Potato Bar/Sandwich Bar type meals make it financially feasible for parents to contribute towards but are really great for staff. Desserts are the least important thing to provide because they are more common.

          6. Neurodivergent in Germany*

            At my school, the PTA set up a beautiful treat buffet in the staff lounge twice a year: strawberries, many types of nice cookies and homemade pudding in spring and Christmas cookies, chocolate and oranges in winter. It’s always nice stuff, really plentiful with leftover cookies for several days and very appreciated.
            There is something for almost everyone and to me it feels very appreciative that they take time out of their day to set it all up and even make some of the pudding/cookies themselves (there are store bought options too for people who prefer that)

            As public servants/state employees we are subject to very strict limits as to what kinds of gifts we may receive individually (my favorite was a thank you card from students), but a communal gift works well

          7. CaffeinatedPanda*

            Food – lunch is better than snacks – is always good, especially with inclusive options. School supplies can be annoying – don’t give me stuff that ultimately your kids are going to be the ones to use and tell me it’s a gift for me. Gift cards are the very best, if you can coordinate your parents to do it and you know what your teachers want. Elementary is really good at this because they have room parents and each room parent can find out what the teacher’s favorites are. If this doesn’t work logistically, multipurpose cards like Amazon or Target are way better than specific cards someone might not use – I get at least one Starbucks card every year and never use them.

    6. Beth*

      One of my volunteer orgs did this, but they actually did it well: the objects in the “gift bag” were small and silly and the list was hilarious (I remember a marble, so we would never lose all our marbles, a life saver, and a paper clip).

      Each bag also included a gift card ($10, IIRC), which was the real volunteer appreciation gift; the rest was just a well-delivered moment of silliness. I did feel appreciated, and I kept my copy of the list of items for quite a while.

    7. Selina Luna*

      My least favorite thing was a plastic water bottle that wasn’t dishwasher safe. I’ve got no use for a water bottle that can’t go through a dishwasher.

    8. Dawn*

      I would *love* if Alison did something like this column for Teacher Appreciation Week! Because wow there are some doozies.

      My favorite was the 2020 gift. Since we were teaching remotely, we were sent an envelope with a few pieces of of random candy and a hastily done drawing by a kid I didn’t teach or know. The best part? When they calculated the postage, they failed to take into account that the envelope wasn’t flat (due to the random candy), so the rate was higher and I owed $6 for the privilege of taking it home.

      I’d be willing to forgive 2020 for being 2020 if it wasn’t for the money owed. Come on.

      1. Former Kitchen Lady*

        Not a teacher or admin, but crappiest work gift ever was in 2020-a Christmas ornament with a work-oriented decal, and #essential. And a tiny bag of candy I don’t eat. I’d have preferred the same gift as 2019–nothing.

      2. Driven to deliver*

        Former USPS worker here to let US-based people know that you can reject any piece of mail! You absolutely don’t have to accept or pay for mail you don’t want. Just write RTS/Return To Sender on it and give it back to the carrier unopened. If you do open it, you’re technically on the hook for it, but most carriers will look the other way if you seal it up again and make it look as undisturbed as possible. Also, don’t tell us you opened it.

        P.S. If you don’t have to pay for it, please do not reject your mail only because you don’t want to have to dispose of it yourself. That just makes you a jerk. You can simply throw away unwanted mail in the recycling bin or whatever. But postal workers can’t do that without risking getting fired or possibly investigated/arrested by the Postal Inspectors (official USPS police). We have to go through a specific process for all rejected mail that eats up way more of our time and energy than it would take you to say, “Ugh, I don’t want this salespaper for a store 50 miles away I never go to” and toss it in the bin.)

        P.P.S. I do not recommend rejecting official documents. I know you don’t want that Certified Restricted letter from your parole officer, but I promise you that the cops are not going to accept “I didn’t want it, so I sent it back” when they come looking for you. Yes, people have tried this. No, it did not end well for them.

    9. StephChi*

      Haha! I can sympathize with that. I work at a high school, and for Teacher Appreciation Week we get:
      -a certificate from the central office that’s not worth the paper it’s printed on telling us how much they appreciate us. Too bad their behavior towards us every other day of the school year demonstrates exactly the opposite;
      -to choose one from a selection of individual-sized crackers, like BelVita, that are strewn on a table near one of the central staircases on the main floor.

    10. AccountingIsFun*

      Do we work at the same place??? because I got something like that including a puzzle piece and other stuff. Expo markers are so much better!

    11. Texas Teacher*

      For teacher appreciation, they gave us candy that all had peanuts in it. There was a sign on my door about no peanuts in the room because of a student and me. I asked my teammate to remove the container and that the rest of the team could split it.

      Then I was called into the office and given a dressing down for being ungrateful. I was given a present I literally could not touch and asked someone to remove it. (the principal didn’t believe in allergies he did believe that dinosaurs and humans existed together)

      1. STAT!*

        Well, they do … but not in the way he thinks, I’d wager. Or perhaps he also believes that birds aren’t real? But seriously, your principal is awful.

  2. Mitford*

    I worked in a regional office for one of the Big Four accounting firms, which decided that instead of celebrating Administrative Professionals Day they would celebrate it as Internal Firm Services Day. Internal Firm Services was basically everyone who was not an accountant or a tax attorney, and some of the more highly placed IFS folks were very surprised to be swept up into what used to Administrative Professionals Day.

    1. A Poster Has No Name*

      I don’t necessarily hate this, depending on how they did it. I know internal services people in orgs like that can be underappreciated because they don’t necessarily bring in money directly. The place can’t survive without them, but that’s not often acknowledged or appreciated as much as it should be (particularly by those who do bring in the money directly).

      1. Mitford*

        I agree with you that internal services folks are often very unappreciated. In this case, it was well intentioned but ultimately fell flat. I think if they’d held it on any other day but Administrative Professionals Day it might have worked better. You suddenly had the head finance person why the heck he was being treated the same as the receptionist, which was snobby as all get out but real, KWIM?

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Under some circumstances it would be snobby to expect different treatment than the receptionist, but this doesn’t seem like one of those. “I’m being honored on Administrative Professionals Day when I’m not actually in that role” (even if the company tried to rebrand it) would definitely annoy me. The only “appreciation” I want from my job are money, benefits, and respect.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          And while I get there can’t be a celebration every week, “bundling” stuff like that hardly ever comes across as inclusive–more “oh, God, now this OTHER pack of totally essential employees need to be appreciated TOO; order another Fudgy the Whale cake and we’ll get it all over with at once.”

    2. Gondorff*

      I work at a law firm, and we do the same thing – anyone who is not an attorney (e.g. support staff) are ‘celebrated’ on Admin. Professional’s Day.

      Of course, it still falls on some non-attorney (cough, me, cough) to organize things for the other support staff, which markedly defeats the purpose. My boss was absolutely shocked last year when I declined to make a card from him and the other partners to myself.

      1. Inkognyto*

        a gift card is a card.

        sign it up for about $200. “I need your signature for this card”

      2. Sydney Bristow*

        I’m a lawyer in a law firm, but not on the associate/partner track. So I’m lumped in with staff and am always included in Administrative Professionals Day. Luckily I’m not included in the organization part.

    3. Captain Raymond Holt*

      I work in a similar department at a financial services firm and I would love “IFS Appreciation Day” – but it’s not the same as being an administrative professional. So choose a different day.

    4. JBean*

      I used to work in office services at a Big 4 and certain admin professionals were very salty that we were included in admin professional day. They didn’t want to share the spotlight/have us at the happy hour.

      1. House On The Rock*

        That was my initial thought as well. I’d had to think of actual administrative professionals hearing others complaining about NOT wanting to be lumped in with them because they felt, somehow, slighted. And/or for the lowest paid/most put upon people to all of a sudden have to share their day with higher paid/higher titled staff.

        1. JBean*

          My team was “lower” or parallel to the admin team. If higher up folks wanted to share the day there would have been actual complaining.

  3. rayray*

    It’s crazy how clueless some people are, it seems most of these Administrative Professional appreciation things are more a gimmick so the big bosses can give themselves a pat on the back, rather than genuine appreciation for those employees.

    I am someone that could do well in an admin role, but those roles are underpaid 99% of the time and the disrespect I endured at my last admin role really did a number on me. I absolutely refuse to ever step in a role like that ever again.

    1. Busy*

      You’d be surprised how much executive admins are paid a large corporation. The place I worked the starting salary was around $100k and with seniority, they easily got to $120k-$150k. Granted, some of the higest paid ones supported two VPs or were part of the C-suit admins.

        1. rayray*

          Also, these are the people that probably put up with years, maybe even DECADES of crap jobs of being underpaid until they got to that point. Whenever I see a listing for an EA job paying a livable salary, they want someone with 10+ years experience among other qualifications.

          1. Goldenrod*

            “Also, these are the people that probably put up with years, maybe even DECADES of crap jobs of being underpaid until they got to that point”

            I’m an EA and yes, I agree with this! I feel I am very well paid in my role (maybe even overpaid!), but this is frankly a combination of being massively underpaid for many years, having to switch jobs a lot due to untenable bosses / awful work culture, and a bit of COVID-related luck (i.e. got a very generous offer due to a lack of applicants).

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              You are NOT overpaid unless you are riding a different pony to work every day of the week!

              You earned every penny of what you make.

                1. She of Many Hats*

                  Totally agree: Even if you have a great executive, wrangling them, their schedules, meetings, travel, calls, and often their home-life. makes wrangling cats look easy and most EAs I know are wrangling two or more executives at a time, even at the upper C-Suite level. And these roles are rarely truly M-F 9-5. Add in a nasty or high-maintenance executive and an EA needs hazard pay, too.

      1. lunchtime caller*

        yup, this is the position I’m in. In big cities that attract big industries, career admin roles can be a pretty decent living.

      2. ferrina*

        A good EA is worth it. I don’t want my CEO spending 2+ hours/day sorting through his inbox or taking calls from sales vendors or trying to schedule and reschedule meetings. A good EA does all this and more to ensure the CEO can focus on the big picture, high profile and business objectives that they are paid to focus on. EAs juggle so much.

        1. rayray*

          EAs really do juggle so much and are often so intelligent, skilled, and hardworking. It’s sad to see though when these people can be stripped of all autonomy in their job or getting stuck with menial tasks. For example, last job the big-wigs had a meeting in the conference room with snacks and drinks. After the meeting, they left all the wrappers and cans on the table. Would have only taken a few extra seconds to pick things up and throw in a garbage can, but nope. It’s an EAs job to do it. Ice cube stuck together in the freezer? Heaven forbid! Assistant must dump out the ice and restart the icemaker for fresh ice! Then, proceed to yell at said Assistant for setting aside the actual work they were doing for that fabricated emergency.

          1. still nope*

            I ‘rage’ quit a job like this at a law firm. It was a Thursday, in May, in Seattle, with the next day forecast for a delightful 70F.
            No, I am not going to step & fetch anything for one more entitled asshole. I said good day.
            It was glorious.

          2. Goldenrod*

            “It’s sad to see though when these people can be stripped of all autonomy in their job or getting stuck with menial tasks”

            This describes my last job. And I supported the head of HR for a big university! She was by far the most abusive boss I ever had. Also, she was the ONLY boss, in over 2 decades working at this university, who NEVER wished me a happy admin professionals day! And she even had it noted on her calendar. Yikes.

      3. House On The Rock*

        I fully admit I don’t know your particular organization, but I would bet Pounds to Pound Cake that admins making six figures do much more, and put up with much more grief, than, say, IT staff making similar salaries. Raw numbers tell part of the story, but not all.

  4. quetzal1234*

    Surprisingly, my company actually does ok for admin professionals day (though I find the whole concept very odd). They just give my boss extra money to order all of us in the department a nice lunch.

    1. Turanga Leela*

      That’s what we do too. We have a dozen-ish lawyers and two administrative professionals. The department goes out for lunch (lawyers pay), and there are cards with cash.

      We also celebrate bosses’ day, which makes me uncomfortable, but the admins organize it and there’s no way for me to push back without being rude. This year the admins made lunch for the lawyers.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Wait… the lawyers take the admins out to lunch (good) but expect the admins to MAKE their lunch on Bosses’ Day???

        1. Turanga Leela*

          No, we don’t expect it–the admins announced they were doing it. The lunch was not elaborate (think taco bar) but definitely took time, money, and effort. The money part of it is probably why they made rather than bought lunch–there are many more lawyers than admins, and buying lunch would be much more expensive than making it.

          As I said, it made me uncomfortable to have the admins do this, but they announced they were doing it, and there was no way to say no without seeming unappreciative or rude. (I’m not the actual boss, who would have been in a better position to say, “This is so kind of you, but we really don’t want you to do anything for bosses’ day.”) The admins seemed happy to do something nice for the lawyers, so I went along with it in that spirit.

  5. fine tipped pen aficionado*

    We have 4 people in our admin division and 3/4 of them are cis women and 1 is a cis man. Last year they gave the 3 women flowers and the 1 man a gift card for a local store he likes. Happily, they responded to the well-deserved criticism this year by providing brunch to the whole staff and giving them the afternoon off with pay. :)

    1. rayray*

      Really makes you wonder why so many people are fully convinced that all women must like flowers and don’t like gift cards and all men like gift cards and don’t like flowers.

      1. Cyndi*

        Tangentially, when I was the only woman at a very sports-bro-y workplace, everyone else got a bottle of vodka for Christmas every year. I was also the only non-drinker, so I got a $30 Dunkin gift card instead. Even my coworkers thought I had the better end of that deal.

        1. Ama*

          Unless they were buying really top shelf vodka and had some big Moscow Mule fans in that office you definitely got the better end of that deal.

          I like a good cocktail but during the height of the shutdown I decided to create a little home bar for myself and I made the mistake of ordering a $30 bottle of vodka assuming a small bottle ran about the same price as the $20-30 gin and bourbon I was also ordering. Turns out I ordered almost a half gallon of vodka. It will probably last me for decades.

          1. Cyndi*

            Nope, it was always Pink Whitney (it was an ice hockey pro shop, thus hockey player vodka) which Google tells me runs $10-15 a bottle. So I was winning on dollar value and usefulness both!

          1. Cyndi*

            Despite the bro culture–and most people I worked with there were legitimately terrible, unpleasant people–as a workplace it was great? Like a few weeks after I started I walked in on a coworker on the phone with our great-grandboss, complaining that someone at another location was a “p*ssy f*ggot Jew,” and that told me a lot about the culture real quick! But they were very good about people calling in sick, even last minute, and whenever a male customer disrespected me they all had my back without question. And yes, they remembered every year for three years to get me Dunkin instead of vodka. The cognitive dissonance was incredible and I never knew how to respond to it.

            In March 2020 I got sent to cover a shift at the “main” location and discovered that the GM’s office, where my checks were written, was plastered with nude pinups of women with machine guns. I was still trying to figure out whether it counted legally as a hostile workplace (since there were typically no women scheduled at that store) when everything shut down. And then they paid me my full wages to sit at home for three months until non-essential retail reopened, so I couldn’t afford to say boo. Weird place.

      2. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        I think the most insulting thing to the admins was, not only did they give the man a gift card but they were thoughtful enough to get one to a place they knew he liked. Conversely no thought at all seemed to be put into what was given to the women except “woman like flower”. Once again treated as a gender and not a person.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          “You said you wanted wine, but I got you a mudslide because all women like chocolate!”

          1. pope suburban*

            This is how I got stuck with chocolate stuff for my birthday every year at my last job. The owner’s wife would bake things for birthdays, which was nice of her, but the women were never asked and always given chocolate. Then men were asked and got varieties of things. I never said anything about it but I can’t stand chocolate and it was just one more symptom of the rampant sexism that infected that job. We were always treated as second-class citizens, children, silly little girls, and expected to be nursemaids to the men. The boss liked it that way; I think he had some delusions of living out a Mad Men fantasy and thought he could buy a company to make it happen.

        2. rayray*

          Exactly! No thought, just assuming that flowers would be exactly what she wants. No thought that *gasp* a woman may not care for them, could have allergies, hate the smell, have pets that could be poisoned by them, etc.

        3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          When I left BadJob for NiceJob there was some bad feeling about it – they instituted a rule that nobody leaving for a competitor could have a leaving collection (NB usually organised and funded by coworkers). Fine, so far so petty. But they realised they couldn’t actually send me off on my last day empty handed, so instead I was bought an enormous and elaborate bunch of flowers from petty cash.

          I don’t even like flowers (in fact I actively dislike them) and had to take the bouquet home on my 90-minute commute on public transit. In July. It was more of a punishment than a gift.

          But, you know, UTERUS.

          1. Pointy's in the North Tower*

            So question. What would do they if you were a woman leaving for a competitor and you don’t have a uterus?

            The things I ponder…

      3. Sam*

        Because women are women and like all of the same things, whereas men are people and people like a variety of things. /S

        1. ferrina*

          Don’t you know women are NPCs? Just grab 10 Pink Flowers for this quest, and you’ve completed the mission. Reward earned- pat yourself on the back. No further thought required.
          /s (of course)

          1. KatieP*

            This comparison works suprisingly well, based on the number of men I’ve met (more earlier in my career, though I still bump into them in my current role) who think they’re the the main/player character.

            The weird thing is the number of people I’ve met who think they’re the PC in single-player mode, rather than an MMORPG.

          2. Worldwalker*

            It could be worse. Imagine the escort quests they would think up. (note: I hate escort quests with the fire of a thousand suns)

              1. My Cabbages!*

                Oh! I have been grabbed! I shall stand here and call out the hero’s name rather than grabbing any number of weapons lying around and actually doing something about it.

            1. ferrina*

              I think I had an ex who thought he was on an escort quest? He wanted to come to all my social events, and if I decided to go on my own, he’d be soooo sad about how lonely and bored he was while I was out (we lived together). But if he went with me, he wanted to be the center of attention with my friends and coworkers. If I started having too much fun without him, he’d come find me and jump into the conversation and start talking over me .

              Pretty much I was supposed to guide him places then let him complete the quest (i.e., socializing) while I stood idly by. Weirdly, it’s even worse being the Escortee than the Escorter (I also hate escort quests)

        2. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

          You know, sometimes I almost wish we *were* this monolithic hive-mind that some men see us as. Imagine the power we’d have if we operated as a collective.

        3. Worldwalker*

          For decades, I have passed as male in online games, etc. (I don’t specifically say so — I just play male characters, because if I’m going to have to look at a 3D rendered butt for hours on end, it’s gonna be a male one, and don’t correct people who assume wrongly) and that is *exactly* the attitude I’ve seen from actual males, from teen-age to old enough to be the parents of teenagers. I’ve seen it in jobs, in my hobbies, everything: There are “people” who are all different — except for being male — and there are “women” who are all alike, in some stereotypical fashion.

      4. goddessoftransitory*

        I think it’s because flowers for Secretaries’ Day has been a thing for a while, and when things started “upgrading” and more men took on EA roles, the whole “unmanly” thing dictated that men could not receive flowers, and most especially not from other men (and the higher ups would definitely mostly be men.) So they “solved” the problem by just grabbing nice, gender-neutral gift cards.

        Naturally it never occurred to TPTB that women might have preferred the gift cards as well.

        1. different seudonym*

          oh dang I feel dumb because the homophobic-terror angle never occurred to me.


      5. LifeBeforeCorona*

        I hate cut flowers and any vase of them sits until they die and can be thrown out. Last year we (all women) were given them and I gave mine away to whoever wanted them, I didn’t even want the effort of taking them home.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I do this! I have frequently thrilled my neighbour and my mother-in-law.

  6. mango chiffon*

    For admin professionals day, they’ve decided to give us admins a lunch, but with the admins and the entire executive team (President, VPs, chief of staff, etc.) together, which is going to make for one of the most awkward and uncomfortable lunches…

    1. Can't Sit Still*

      That’s what my office is doing, too. I was disappointed I was going to miss it when it was just the admins, since we haven’t had a chance to get together as a team since December 2019. (Our office finally got off the list for major outbreak status for Covid last month.) But then yesterday, they announced we’d be joined by the leadership team. Yippee.

      However, my WBC is super-low right now, so lunch would be extremely high risk for me.

      1. mango chiffon*

        Agreed. I’m fully masked up at the office and usually take my lunches outside since most of the office doesn’t wear masks at this point. I’m just going to be sitting in a room with my mask on and not eating in front of all of leadership and making awkward small talk. Really would rather they have just given us a gift card.

        1. Can't Sit Still*

          Super awkward. Before our company was acquired, our CEO would attend our luncheon. He took the time to chat with each one of us and made sure we knew how much (and why!) we were appreciated, not just on that day, but every day. It was not awkward, because he’s a great politician and can glad-hand with the best of them!

          They did provide us with meal gift cards in prior years – I wish they could have done that this year as well. They are doing a prix fixe lunch at a local restaurant and the organizer refuses to account for dietary restrictions, so I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to eat anyway, even if I could have attended.

    2. Princess Sparklepony*

      In my first office job, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I was 16 and working in a small office part time. When Admin’s Day came around I got invited to lunch – I was surprised it being a small office. We were in an office park with a nice-ish restaurant and I remember looking around the room and realizing that this was one of the most awkward lunches ever.

      In all the decades since, I have never really seen anything to change my mind on observation. And while I have been an AA, I’ve always hated AA day. It’s just gruesome to have to spend extra time with your boss at a fake appreciation day. Some of my bosses were good with a gift card and not forcing me to do lunch.

  7. EPLawyer*

    #3 — just no words. To celebrate the day, you can do landscaping FOR THE COMPANY. The fact they thought this was a funny prank says so much.

    #4 – I would have suddenly had a headache and left.

    #6 — the tool. Oh so much so.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      With MANURE.

      Like, there is gardening, and then there is fertilizing, which is its own special subset of gardening.

      1. new year, new name*

        Also (assuming this story takes place in the northern hemisphere), administrative professionals’ day is in the spring! You plant tulip bulbs in the fall! If they had planted those bulbs, they weren’t even going to grow!

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Yeah, these are all terrible, but #3 really takes the cake!

          (I realize that #4 actually took the cake.)

          (I’ll see myself out.)

    2. Wow*

      #7 – I cannot wrap my head on how someone thought this was a good idea. I also wonder what year was this, because if it was any time after 2000s, these so-called leaders should not lead a cow to the pasture.

    3. Ay ay*

      #7 – I cannot wrap my head on how someone thought this was a good idea. I also wonder what year was this, because if it was any time after 2000s, these so-called leaders should not lead a cow to the pasture.

    4. Pam Adams*

      I wish someone had said “Sure!” and then ‘accidentally’ tipped the wheelbarrow over.

      1. Driven to deliver*

        Legit came to the comments to say that I would have been so tempted to “Accidentally” tip over the wheelbarrow on the nice carpet or whatever while pretending to move it outside.

        That’s if the place had security cameras. If it didn’t, I’d just walk right up and kick the damn thing over. And then maintain that I never saw a thing. :)

  8. riverofmolecules*

    It feels like a general clearing question to ask oneself when picking a gift is, “What does this ask of the recipient?”

    If the answer includes “dancing in the middle of the office in the middle of the workday in office work clothes,” maybe that’s a problem.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      Or landscaping. Or organizing their own appreciation lunch.

      Excellent question to ask before giving a gift. Before I bought a car, I never knew what to do with gift certificates to restaurants on the other side of the city. No free dinner was worth the 3 hours of bus rides to get there and back.

    2. JustaTech*

      This is a brilliant question, and it really clarifies to me why I love some gifts and hate others.
      Thank you!

  9. Marna Nightingale*

    My SO once said to his department’s admin, for whom he would cheerfully take a bullet, “It’s a BS Hallmark holiday but what the Hell, lunch and beer are on me.”
    Readers, no work got done that afternoon.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      “It’s a BS Hallmark holiday but what the Hell, lunch and beer are on me.”

      Best idea I’ve heard yet, and it can be used for so many “holidays.”

  10. ConstantlyComic*

    Yesterday was Library Workers’ Day, and we got an email from the library director saying how much she appreciates us. But that’s not all; last week at an all-staff meeting we were also informed that one library’s friends group read a letter about how great libraries are at an open meeting (no playback or anything, we were just informed that it happened) and that the library director, deputy director, and branch managers were getting raises. Really makes those on the front lines feel appreciated.

    1. jax*

      Did you get the email from the director at 4:45pm? Because that’s when mine sent one to us one year. Felt very appreciated, indeed. /sarcasm.

      1. ConstantlyComic*

        Nope, around 8:30 AM. I’m guessing she hammered that email out in a couple of seconds then went on to her “real work”

    2. Jigglypuff*

      I am a library manager. I gave my staff a pizza party for lunch and covered the circulation desk so that everyone could take the time to eat and enjoy a small break. I would have loved to have given them a raise or a day off, but the budget only had room for the pizza party.

      1. kiri*

        tbh the desk coverage is really a great gift for front-facing library staff! so often in my library (academic) our reference team will plan fun things for the whole library and then not make any real concessions to the fact that the access services folks have to cover the desk, so not everyone can attend equitably – which leads to all sorts of grumbling. glad you gave your staff the chance to all participate in that!

    3. still nope*

      My public library-working partner has been assaulted, exposed to fentanyl, hate crimed, spat on, etc etc and can’t even get a consistent, accurate schedule, let alone decent pay.
      But they did get cookies.

      The academic library I work for sent us a nice email :/

      1. goddess21*

        “exposure to fentanyl” is not a health hazard, unless ingested, snorted, or injected. If you’ve been told otherwise I suggest you examine your informant”s agenda.

        1. gmg22*

          While it is true that there is a lot of misinformation about the dangers of fentanyl to non-users who find themselves in proximity to it, I suspect the back story here is that the commenter’s partner has had to deal with patrons who are using drugs on library premises (among other frustrating and potentially risky situations), which, you know, not fun and I think it’s OK to say that without being nitpicked or accused of questionable motive.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            Correct. Nothing that commenter said suggested their partner was poisoned. It was a simple statement of fact and one that I’d be uncomfortable with too, regardless of whether I was forced to ingest it.

    4. Library Lady*

      Our director this year did a small White Elephant gift exchange where she purchased a bunch of really cute stuff from Out of Print and we all got to participate at our most recent staff meeting. It was a lot of fun and well suited to our staff. Hell, I don’t even remember if our previous director acknowledged it the last couple years. Our new director is also putting in the work to raise all of our salaries up to a level that meets or exceeds the salaries of other libraries in the area, and even though it’ll take a couple years to get there, that shows more appreciation for us than anything we’ve ever gotten before.

    5. yala*

      Heck, I wasn’t even aware it *was* Library Workers’ Day, or that there even was one in the first place, so I guess in comparison… yeah, nah, I think I’ll still take nothing over nothing-but-you-should-feel-appreciated-anyway.

    6. No raise for this branch manager*

      Our director sends out an e-mail. Branch managers are expected to pay for anything to show appreciation out of their own pockets, while not ever getting ANYTHING in appreciation. Well except an e-mail. I wish we were getting raises to cover the hundreds of dollars of our own money we need to spend every year on pizza, fancy cookies, lunches, refreshments at meetings, gifts, cards, etc etc. All to show appreciation, as requested by our bosses, who don’t even give us a card ever. We just appreciate each other here, and someone brought rice krispie treats, dounts, muffins, chips and salsa.

    7. Bluebonnet*

      I have worked as a library support staff in higher ed academic libraries for 11 years, and had no idea this holiday even existed! For some reasons, the two academic libraries I have worked at do have leadership who are allergic to fun and parties.

      It doesn’t help that I am the only extrovert in a team of introverts so that is likely part of the situation as well. Hoping my search for a new job is finally successful one day!

  11. Katrine Fonsmark*

    Some of these remind me of my biggest holiday pet peeve, which is ALL women (this is particularly bad in churches, I’ve noticed) getting flowers/gifts on Mother’s Day. All women are not mothers! And that’s OK! I am not upset that there are holidays that celebrate groups that I’m not a part of!

    1. Lacey*

      Yeah, I think they’re trying to not make people feel bad if they’re struggling with infertility (we gave gifts to people who already got what you desperately want! Isn’t that fun?) but they probably need to just not make such a big deal about it at all if they want to be sensitive to people who can’t have kids, lost a child, lost a mom, have a bad relationship with their mom, etc.

      1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        It’s just not a work appropriate thing to celebrate at all, I think. As a special occasion to celebrate your own mother figures or the mother figures to your children, that’s fine. That doesn’t really need to involve your manager.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          Thankfully, being on a Sunday, it usually isn’t. Of course, this is the perfect cue for people to have nightmare stories of their own…

          1. Siege*

            Which just means that if you take your mother out to dinner for Mother’s Day you’re both getting flowers from the restaurant because you’re both women, so therefore, you’re both mothers.

        2. lucanus cervus*

          Yeah, this is how I feel about it. It’s so personal and there are so many ways a person’s relationship with motherhood can be complicated and upsetting. Any workplace celebration is bound to make things weird or difficult for someone, so let’s just…not.

      2. Ally McBeal*

        I am adopted, and my birth mother went into labor with me on Mother’s Day, but this was back when adoptions were closed, so my adoptive mother had no idea. She would always tell me the story of sitting in church on Mother’s Day that year, absolutely heartbroken after 10 years of infertility and watching mothers get recognized, not knowing that her child was in the process of being born at that very moment.

        I never liked that aspect of Mother’s Day church services, and it got much worse after my relationship with my (adoptive) parents soured. Now I don’t go to church on MD or FD, and it seems to me that places of worship don’t need to be celebrating secular Hallmark holidays in the first place.

        1. Bluebonnet*

          I agree to your point about churches not celebrating Hallmark holidays. If they value parents, they can show them with actions such as offering affordable child care one night a month so parents can rest/do errands/etc. I know some churches run day cares too, but know this is not a fit for every church.

          On a side note, my husband is estranged from his mother so finds Mother’s Day particularly triggering. He would definitely appreciate not hearing about it in church.

        2. Eater of Hotdish*

          “it seems to me that places of worship don’t need to be celebrating secular Hallmark holidays in the first place”

          I wish more people got this. I’m a female-presenting pastor in my forties with no children (and my feelings on that fact are a complicated mixture of relief, regret, and FOMO). But y’all, if I don’t do *something* on MD or FD–even a petition in the prayers–there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

        3. Sharpie*

          Well, it may be little consolation but historically, ‘Mother’s’ Day was Mothering Sunday and was when people would go to their mother church if they’d moved away from home.

          It’s celebrated in March here in the UK, Mother’s Day as a celebration of mothers is much more recent, as is Father’s Day.

    2. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      That one gets my gizzard too!!! It is really hard to be a Mother, especially when you have to mother an adult who is supposed to help you parent in addition to your kids, and a little special appreciation is well-deserved.

      It is not a holiday for women in general and acting like it is diminishes the challenges of motherhood and tells women we are being perceived primarily through our potential for caretaking, which doesn’t feel great! I’m not trans so I don’t know how that complicates this already weird gender energy but I’m sure it feels bad for them too.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        I am nonbinary trans. I would be very upset, particularly given the years of excruciating gynecological problems I’ve endured that trigger my dysphoria, if someone automatically assumed I’m a mother just because I have (for now at least) a uterus and am the right age where it’s theoretically possible. We never know the battles people are fighting so yes, you are correct, it would be horrible to make assumptions.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      Yes – “You probably have a uterus, take this wilted carnation!”

      I don’t have kids specifically because of fertility issues, and forcing me to take a flower on mother’s day because woman=mother is just going to make me feel broken. And I’ve pretty much come to terms with not having kids, and am generally okay with it.

      1. Jdeb*

        This is me exactly. I wanted kids, but it never happened. I’m 43 now and I’ve mostly made my peace with it. But I hate being wished a Happy Mother’s Day. And I cannot sit in church on Mother’s Day either. I love my own mother and try to celebrate her on that day, but I do not want to celebrate a holiday for myself that I do not have a part in or be reminded that I am not “like other women.”

      2. Sara M*

        Hallmark should use that slogan. “You probably have a uterus, take this wilted carnation!” Winner!

    4. jax*

      My uncle, who has known me for 37 years (my whole life) and knows I have zero kids and thatI am not a mother, wishes me a happy mother’s day every year so I just say “thanks! You too!” I think he is trying to be nice? But I am always baffled.

      1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        I actually really like this response, and may use it the next time some random person wishes me a happy [holiday that that I’m apparently eligible for because I’m a woman, even though I’m definitely not].

      2. Seashell*

        Does he like your mother and think he’s celebrating her by saying, “Happy Mother’s Day” to you? Weird, but possible.

        1. jax*

          He adored my mom and misses her very much. She passed away 12 years ago. So maybe he is trying to…try to not make the day harder on me?

    5. Ashley*

      Equally bad is sending an email to all the women in a company wishing them a Happy Mother’s Day. This was in a smaller office where people knew each other and who had kids and in many instances exactly why those who were childless why they were childless. If you aren’t my mom you aren’t getting wish Happy Mother’s Day.

    6. Portia*

      When my church gave all the women small religious medals (it’s a Catholic thing) on Mother’s Day, I was rather pleased than otherwise. The pastor — as he said, more gracefully than I’m putting it — decided not to ask all the women to indicate publicly whether they were or were not mothers (by accepting or declining).

      Felt rather nice. Single people are often kind of inadvertent outsiders at family-oriented places.

      To each her own, etc.

      1. RLC*

        Our church makes a cash donation to support a local women’s shelter each year for Mother’s Day instead of handing out flowers to the women in the congregation. I much prefer this approach.

      2. Michelle Smith*

        I feel like it would be very easy to do this by allowing people who want to get the medal to come up after the service, wouldn’t it? Rather than risk triggering those who want to be in church that day but who are struggling with infertility?

      3. Cyndi*

        I’m glad you enjoyed that and found it meaningful! But as a general rule the respectful solution to “some people are outliers here” is almost never “let’s all just pretend everyone is actually part of the default group.” It’s usually for the comfort of the people making decisions and/or the default group, not the outliers.

    7. Chirpy*

      If I was ever in a church where this happened, I would very publicly walk out. As a single, childless woman, I already have a hard time finding a church where people don’t seem to pity me or lump me in with the teenagers (or just sign me up for babysitting duties)

    8. Flowers*

      I understand including those struggling with infertility. as someone who struggled for years and had losses, it was alwasy a dark day. and I’m glad that now there’s more of a push to acknowledge mother-like figures (aunts, stepmoms etc) as well as those with strained relationships (me!).

      But for the life of me I cannot understand why “those who don’t wish to be mothers” are included in this.

      1. Chirpy*

        Or those who nobody asked about their feelings on the subject, we’re just lumped in “because women like that stuff”.

        For some people, it’s a complicated mess of knowing society thinks we’re somehow incomplete, AND knowing there’s not much you can do to change either that perception or to “fit in” better, whether you want kids or not.

      2. Bébé chat*

        Same ! Mother’s day is triggering anyway, but I still appreciate to get a little something, just because I could not carry my babies long enough for them to live doesn’t mean I am not their mother. I would actually hate to have other get mad on my behalf because as I struggle with infertility of course I don’t want to have this day celebrated around me. For me it worse to not get recognized on this day because what does it mean, that the flowers are for mothers that have living children only? Anyway it’s not as if the flowers or medal or whatever are what are going to make me realise my family projects will be hard to achieve, it’s always a dark day as you said. It’s suprising for me that people who did not go through infertility would decide on their own that of course it’s best to not celebrate me as it would trigger me…

    9. Bluebonnet*

      I feel odd getting flowers in church too since I have no kids (just a husband).

      Sometimes people wink when giving flowers that I will be a mother one day, but that is overreaching to me. I have a husband who is happy being childless and a body that the doctor said is likely infertile.

    10. Orange You Glad*

      I noticed last Mother’s Day for the first time it seemed everyone had to go out of their way to say Happy Mother’s Day to all women. I’m not a mother, why are you wishing me a happy Mother’s Day?
      Maybe I noticed it more because my birthday falls on/around Mother’s Day each year so I get salty when that celebration takes precedence over my celebration.

    11. NotTheMama*

      I hate this one. I don’t even like children, and never wanted any. And I have an awful relationship with my mother. I want nothing to do with this holiday!

    12. Peter*

      Totally off-topic but at least there’s a justification for this in the Church of England. Mothering Sunday is when youngsters (all sexes) are supposed to return to their Mother Church for the day from wherever they have ended up in service.
      Therefore only including parents in the presents would be wrong – but it should be a present for everyone who has returned.

  12. Lirael*

    #6: At the time I was a subject matter expert for a particular tool

    I presume that you mean “tool” as in “program” or something, but I’m amusing myself imagining you as an SME for a person who is a tool, haha.

    1. La Triviata*

      I was thinking about either some kind of power tool or something from John Deere. But that’s me.

    2. Can't Sit Still*

      I mean, as an EA, I have been the SME on multiple tools of that variety. That’s why I like my current executive – she’s great! No one has to “handle” her: she’s approachable, she values her team, and she’s just a good manager overall.

    3. Worldwalker*

      I once had a volunteer position because of my talent for dealing with a person who was, well, not exactly a tool, but he definitely needed careful management. So you could say I was an SME for a person.

    4. Random Bystander*

      That’s the beauty of the ambiguity of English–both could be true at the same time.

  13. AppleStan*

    I understand the desire/argument for ending “Administrative Professional’s Day” — here’s my issue.

    Our Administrative Professionals LOVE this day. Absolutely love it.

    I’m in government, so while I push for all of the non-pecuniary acknowledgements/gifts that I can give, and cover some things out of pocket (but it’s solely because I want to), I can’t just pop out extra money to the administrative assistants.

    I am advocating hard behind the scenes for increased salaries and remote work, but that is going to take time to come to fruition (again — I’m in government).

    Having said all of that, our team was having casual conversation one day, and I brought up the topic that there is a push to end Administrative Professional’s Day, and explained the reasons why (using a lot of Alison’s arguments and points).

    The results were something just shy of “furor” over the possibility that “their day” would be taken away. They were adamant that they enjoyed the particular spoiling that we (the managers) did on that day, and they didn’t want it to change.

    We let it go. Because happy administrative assistants make for a much smoother office.

    So what do you do if you realize why / think Administrative Professional’s Day needs to go, but your Administrative Professionals want to keep it?

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I think an appreciation lunch or cash card for everyone in [role]/[department] are pretty non-controversial, as long as 1) the company pays; 2) it doesn’t create extra work for people in that [role]/[department]; 3) it doesn’t exclude anyone OR randomly include people based on a protected class; 4) the role isn’t upper management.

    1. MsM*

      I think this just argues for a general policy of communicating with your admins about how they would like to be recognized instead of unilaterally deciding one for them.

      1. AppleStan*

        This is a good point.

        When I became a manager, I brought up the discussions I had heard (before my promotion) amongst the support team members about what they would want on Administrative Professionals Day. They decided on several things, and we do those things every APD. I do other things outside of APD as well.

        I definitely agree that management should not make presumptions…

      2. Ama*

        This. The problem we’re seeing with most of these “gifts” is that they seem to be coming from a place of making the giver feel good (or at least like they’ve checked off the box of “recognize Admin Professionals Day”), more than making the receiver feel appreciated or like anything more than a faceless cog.

    2. Camellia*

      Keep celebrating it on your own, of course. Hallmark holidays, or the lack thereof, do not constitute laws that you must obey/cannot disobey. Keep doing what they love!

      1. Silver Robin*

        Exactly; anyone can have an admin day for their org if they want. They can have a day to appreciate IT folks too! They can do it for any job category who does often thankless (and often rather complex) work to keep orgs running well. Everybody gets their day to be recognized specifically for what they do! Eliminating Admin Day as a Hallmark holiday does not prevent that from being part of the culture

    3. Former Admin*

      I didn’t mind it when I was an AA. I worked for a large non-profit, where the purse strings regarding salary were quite tight. My own manager didn’t have much say in my pay rate even. It was all up to the incredibly cheap CEO. I supported a large department of 100+ employees and 8-10 senior managers. They would all get together on Admin day and get me flowers, a card and a gift card to my favorite restaurant. Once a year they would cater a nice lunch for all the AAs. It was just nice to feel appreciated.

    4. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      We (government professionals) do a (voluntary) collection for admin assistant’s day gifts.

    5. GreenShoes*

      I think that’s why it will never go away.

      Some admins like it – I mean on the surface it’s a day to be appreciated and recognized for what is often a thankless job who wouldn’t love that

      Some admin employers like it – they want to show appreciation and don’t give wheelbarrows of manure

      Some admins hate it – but really who is going to turn their nose up to a free lunch or gift (yes yes, I know someone will and some gifts get chucked in the garbage)

      Some admin employers hate it – but are you really going to not do anything in case your admin is one of the ones who love it? Even if they hate it, the optics of not doing something for your admins will be sniffed at by someone observing

      So it’s going to go in this perpetual state of wishy washy should we celebrate or no… make a big deal or no… obligatory dance until the end of time!

      1. GreenShoes*

        I should add, I’ve never been an admin nor have I ever been in a position to be responsible for organizing an admin appreciation day/thing. So I am more or less agnostic on the idea but can understand why people would love or hate it.

    6. somestaff*

      I’m in government and our admins love administrative professionals day too. We do a big party and people thank them for their contribution. To be honest, I think it makes sense for our office. Our business team is vital to our mission, because they keep our group working, but their work is less visible. I honestly feel that without it, they wouldn’t get the recognition they deserve for the work they do. Our agency frequently gives the mission staff recognition through awards (non-monetary), but the admin staff aren’t eligible for those. I think administrative professionals day plays an important role in recognizing their efforts.

    7. Michelle Smith*

      Do what you think is best for your staff. At one of the law offices I worked at, we celebrated non-attorney staff but not on Administrative Professionals Day. They picked a day and all of us attorneys (who were not super well paid, as it was government, but we were much better paid than other staff) contributed an amount of money to a collection for other staff. To be clear, this did NOT just mean the “administrative professionals.” We gave money for the admin AND the paralegals AND the custodian who kept our offices/bathrooms/common areas from being disgusting heaps of trash. If you were not a lawyer, you got paid. Cash. People were very happy with that system. Every work environment is different. You don’t have to change how you celebrate people if what you’re doing currently is making them feel valued. It’s important to know these things about APD so you can avoid as many pitfalls as possible, but the most important thing is what your staff feels they want.

  14. Chick (on phone)*

    The US based admins (and none of our global colleagues) got a lame $50 Amazon gift card. Their explanation for why we didn’t get more was because previous cards were bought with Amex travel points and they might have to GASP use company money to pay for it. I work for a multi billion dollar company.

    Can’t wait to leave.

    1. Sunshine*

      Their reasoning might be cheap, but $50 seems like a lot of money to me. I’d be thrilled with a gift like that!

  15. Dust Bunny*

    I wouldn’t be churlish enough to complain openly but I loathe cut flowers, and I always worry that one of them will be cat-toxic (do florists specialize in pet-friendly bouquets? That seems like a niche that could be filled. Not just not-poisonous but things you could admire and then feed to your pets).

    But the mulch one just . . . wow. There was a meme going around about how if you ever have to bury a body you should grow an endangered plant species over it so it can’t be dug up (I know that’s not really how it works) and I’m really feeling it right now.

    1. Ally McBeal*

      I agree, more florists should have that knowledge on-hand! I’ve seen TikToks created by florists who go over common flowers and talk about whether they’re cat-safe (or cat-safe-ISH, depending on how your cat attacks plants – like maybe the flowers are edible but the leaves aren’t), but even something like a laminated cheat sheet near the register would be helpful.

      1. kitryan*

        My (at the time) boss sent me flowers for a show opening (my first as lead designer) and since he was also my go-to cat sitter, he told me he’d specifically requested a cat-safe bouquet from the florist, which I found to be the most thoughtful part of the gift actually.
        At my current office, we used to get gift cards for admin professionals day (for $50-$100) but this year and I think last year it was a lunch instead. I’m mostly remote so I wasn’t in the office for the lunch and still hope that maybe there’s a gift card too, but I doubt it. We used to get 2 or 3 such gift cards throughout the year- admin professionals day, your work anniversary, and maybe another for some other holiday or occasion, but that’s tapered off a bit lately, with different office management/HR.

    2. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

      I’m allergic to roses and lilies, so I guess I would have to just leave and work remotely on a day that included that many flowers.

      1. Eater of Hotdish*

        I’m allergic to lilies, too, and I’m clergy in a tradition where “it just isn’t [MAJOR HOLIDAY]” without them! Thankfully, I was able to convince folks at the place where I’m currently serving to go for silk lilies that can be reused year after year, so I don’t have to lurch through multiple services in an antihistamine fog.

    3. KittenLittle*

      I’ve thought that, too! Maybe if enough folks contacted the National Alliance of Floral Associations (NAFA) and the Society Of American Florists (SAF) requesting pet-friendly arrangements, they would offer those products.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      So it seems that pet-safe bouquets are pretty common, which is good to know (I obviously don’t send flowers very often).

      I still think pet-tasty ones would be a good idea, though.

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      I have two cats and a rather destructive toddler and work ~95% remotely. Last time I received flowers at home sent by my office (death in the family), I thanked the senders and then put the flowers up on a local Buy Nothing group to brighten someone else’s day.

    6. Can't Sit Still*

      BloomsyBox has a pet-safe flowers subscription! I bought one for myself last month because I’ve been stuck at home so much, and my first bouquet was pink roses, white stock, and purple snapdragons. Bear in mind that they ship from Bogota, Colombia, though, so you might not want to subscribe unless you’re on the East Coast, since it can take up to a week for the bouquet to arrive, even with “2 day” delivery.

      1. Samwise*

        One of my cats finds roses irresistibly delicious…Her favorite bouquet would have roses with basil and romaine for greenery.

    7. Ama*

      It wasn’t for admin professionals day but when I was a university department admin some faculty that I had been helping with a major special project brought me flowers — only they bought hyacinths and when I was moving them into a vase the contact with my skin left me itchy for the rest of the day (which is common with hyacinths, apparently). I didn’t really blame them (I didn’t know that about hyacinths either, before that moment) but it really brought home to me how many side issues flowers/plants as a gift can have if the giver just thinks “oh these are pretty” and doesn’t do any further research.

      I did buy my direct report a plant when she had surgery last year but 1) I knew she liked plants and 2) I picked one that was pet-safe because I knew she had a cat.

    8. yala*

      Yeah, I’m…not a huge fan of bouquets for exactly that reason. Like, they’re…fine, I guess. But at this point I have a drastic aversion to lilies on principle, so if there were some in the batch I wouldn’t go near it if I could help it.

      1. kitryan*

        I like flowers but not the pollen and the inevitable death and clean up, so this spring I’m making paper flower kits instead. I have a crepe bouquet of peonies that came out ok and a paper bouquet of a daffodil type flower that’s ok but not as good. Next up is a wreath for the door and roses for the office, if they all come out ok.

    9. RLC*

      I now have this image in my brain of a fresh catnip bouquet decorated with colorful plastic springs and fuzzy pompons, all arranged in an unbreakable vase. We have five cats, there would be joy, chaos, and then deep sleep.

  16. lunchtime caller*

    My work is doing a (paid by the company) lunch event at a local restaurant for every admin, and I think some individual bosses chose to do small things like flowers for their assistants. It’s the first place I’ve worked that does anything, and in general this place keeps the EAs well compensated so it’s just one in a regular schedule of excuses for free food and a chill afternoon. Can’t complain, really!

  17. not an admin prof*

    Well, I was given a gift and card by the people that report to me for Admin Prof day. Seeing as how I’m not an admin prof, I’m guessing the fact that most of them have transitioned from non corporate jobs played into the misunderstanding. I think one person spearheaded and the rest were probably confused, but didn’t want to say anything. I know that’s how I feel.

  18. Veryanon*

    This holiday needs to die. I refuse to participate in any way. I don’t have an admin, but as HR I’m often asked if I can help “plan events.” I’m not an event planner.

    1. ILoveLlamas*

      Many years ago when I was an admin, I worked at a small, prestigious family-owned company. Since I was the admin for two of the three owners, I was given one of their credit cards and told to take all four admins out to a really nice lunch. We had a great time, but weren’t thrilled at the lack of effort on their part. I left the company and the next year my replacement was given the same instructions. She bought a $200 bottle of champagne and had everyone order the most expensive items on the menu….it was a very pricey restaurant. That was apparently the last year of that idea…..

    2. pope suburban*

      I agree, I’ve always felt that it’s very condescending. I know that a portion of that comes from the fact that I have had to take temp jobs or bad jobs to survive, and that most of derives from the fact that I hate this kind of work with a burning passion and all I want is to escape it. But being devalued, exploited, treated like a little kid or twit, and denied any opportunity to grow all year cannot be negated by one day where I get flowers. The worst places that did anything made a big to-do out of it, like they were doing this huge favor to a dopey little boondoggle; I would have preferred nothing. If you value your admin staff the way you should, then treat them with dignity, listen to their feedback, do your best to advocate for them on pay/benefits, and invest in them the way you would with any other type of employee. That it putting your money where your mouth is, and it will prevent the gestures you make today from turning sour in their mouths.

    1. Blueberry Daydream*

      If you appreciate the acknowledgement, you can say, “I appreciate the acknowledgement.” Otherwise, “Aren’t these lovely!” is non-committal and might be true.

  19. KittenLittle*

    Last year my workplace made some of the administrative assistants coordinate getting flowers for everyone else. *eye roll* This year, I was not included in the gifts which is great, because I’m not an admin–hooray! However, I was wondering if they were going to get the male clerks flowers this year, though!

  20. onetimethishappened*

    I worked at a company that sold franchises and supported them. They were hands down some of cheapest people I have ever worked for. Every year they thru a conference for all the franchise owners in a somewhat popular vacation spot in the US. Most of the staff didn’t go to the conferences. But certain departments did to help run it. If you reached a 10 or 20 year anniversary you got a free trip to conference! But not for fun! You had to work it. If anyone here has ever worked a conference its not fun. LONG days, creeping into 12am. On your feet and working hard. Staff were instructed to only eat after every conference member had. If there was no food left… too bad. People were known to faint or get sick. It sounded like hell honestly. I was told in no way could you turn down the “gift of going to the conference”. I only lasted there 1.5 years. The turnover was incredibly high, especially after the conference.

    1. Ama*

      I have worked conferences and yeah anyone who ever tells me I get to work one “for fun” will also be told where they can stick their “fun.”

      Although I’ll also note that your employer was really bad in they way they ran them — my employer always makes sure we have built enough space in the schedule of conferences we run for staff to eat. If there isn’t time for us to actually eat during the regular meals, we build in a rotation where some staff do any crucial tasks while others eat in the staff office and then trade off.

      1. MsM*

        Even at the most budget-strapped nonprofits I’ve worked for, they catered staff meals and gave everyone the day after the conference off by default. The above arrangement sounds exploitative enough, I think it’d be worth running by a lawyer if it’s still happening.

      2. onetimethishappened*

        Yeah after I left there I worked a conference that was thrown by the non-profit I worked for. We had tons of food options. We had a per diem, catered meals, meals at restaurants. It was almost too much food!

  21. QuinFirefrorefiddle*

    I work in the church, so this day sets a little differently because most of the admins are part-time, and often paid by “honorariums” rather than a salary, if at all. (I have fought to raise the pay of every admin I’ve ever had.) The vast majority of church members have no idea how absolutely vital the church admin is to daily operations. That said, I still go with a gift card for something they like. It’s not rocket science!

  22. My Useless 2 Cents*

    I get it, as a woman I’m supposed to love flowers however reading these give me a headache; I have terrible pollen allergies! (I’ve have had to go home sick because a cube neighbor received flowers for her anniversary.) For all allergy sufferers out there I beg: Please, please, please, if you must, give gift cards and stop with the flowers.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      The fact that they were mad about the stains that THEY made pulling off a tasteless prank really floored me.

      Again, there are some people who just are unaccustomed to living with the consequences of their own actions. These guys are among them.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I think they actually made their own bosses mad, which they richly deserved. Moist, loamy richness.

      2. New Jack Karyn*

        I think ‘CEOs’ in an early sentence might have been an error–the writer meant executives, but not that high a level. The actual CEO and VP (above the prankster execs) were the ones annoyed by the mess and smell.

  23. SometimesMaybe*

    Noticing in a lot of the comments by actual admins appreciate the recognition on Admins Day, but all the people outraged are those who are either mistaken for admin or are outraged on admins’ behaves. The irony of patronizing admins by telling us we are being patronized is a little annoying.

    1. Sassenach*

      I see your point but there are also many comments by actual admins in regards to misguided attempts to appear appreciative by higher-ups.

      1. SometimesMaybe*

        Misguided attempts are one thing (and an irritating one at that), but that doesn’t mean the whole day should be voided. Sometimes I get truly crappy birthday gifts, but I like when my friends and family mark the occasion. I believe instead we could redefine what kind of recognition is appreciated. I have worked in admin for a long time, and my positions didn’t get the same recognition as the other professionals (i.e. sales bonus, promotions, travel perks, profiles or awards in the community), I appreciate when companies make an effort to give me recognition or perks. While a lot of admins are not compensated fairly, I have, but I still appreciated when a light is shown on the invisible work we do.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      I’m not seeing it in a “lot” of comments, but the overall problem seems to be one of assuming that admins are all women, and then assuming that all women want something that is traditionally seen as female, like flowers.

      And this is compounded when people in these roles are underpaid. I mean, flowers are nice, and so is a $25 gift card, but most people have bills to pay that those things are just not going to cover.

      But it is nice to see that some companies actually do things right.

    3. Blueberry Daydream*

      I noticed that there is an International Actuaries Day (Sept 2) and an International Accounting Day (Nov 10), although I could not find a Copy Editors’ Day. I don’t work with any of those 3, but I have always had an admin who supported me. I appreciate them, and I appreciate you!

    4. Saddy Hour*

      I’m not seeing those comments – I saw one comment from someone managing admins who was told that they like the day, but that’s it. I must have missed a lot.

      When I was an admin, I hated Admins Day, but I’m sure it depends on your workplace. Mine only ever cared about us admins on that one day, and “care” is a stretch. If you’re in a company that consistently recognizes and appreciates your contributions, it probably is nice to get a little extra on a designated day.

      1. LilPinkSock*

        It is! And I’m genuinely sad that so many of my fellow admins are regularly treated like absolute garbage. We all deserve better.

    5. ErinWV*

      THANK YOU. As a career admin, who has held the titles of receptionist, secretary, assistant, and now coordinator, I seem to be continually told that those roles are lowly and that to be mistaken for holding them is an insult. Admins work hard, and they are just as good at their jobs as you are at yours.

      Yes, the holiday is dumb. Yes, it papers over capitalistic inequities with empty gestures, and is often weaponized in a wildly sexist way. But can we at least try doing it right instead of not doing it all?

      1. nnn*

        I really liked a piece Alison wrote in Slate about this a couple of years ago.


        I hope it is ok to quote the ending from it:

        “Redefining someone as support staff based solely on their gender—particularly when men in the same roles aren’t categorized that way—is disrespectful and demoralizing. It’s right in line with how women are all too often the ones asked to take notes, make the coffee, and organize the holiday party, regardless of their actual job duties.

        Administrative workers do deserve recognition and appreciation! They serve a key role in keeping organizations functioning, and plenty of companies and executives would fall apart without them. Their work is also far from unskilled—it takes intelligence, organization, judgment, and significant diplomacy to do well. Admins deserve respect and appreciation year-round and pay that reflects their contributions. Cards and flowers don’t cut it.

        If nothing else, maybe next year we can change it to Pay Your Admin More Day.”

      2. Michelle Smith*

        It’s really not about thinking admins are somehow beneath us. It’s about not wanting people to assume anything about us based on superficial characteristics.

        Let me explain this another way. I practiced criminal law for several years. I am black. Frequently, whenever I went into a courtroom, the staff and judge treated me differently than my white colleagues and assumed I was a defendant and not an attorney until I showed identification. I do not think I am better in anyway than the other people in my community who were in court being accused of crimes they may or may not have committed. But I did find it insulting that they assumed I *couldn’t possibly* be an attorney simply because of my race.

        Everyone should be respected, regardless of their title or degrees, but part of respect is not misclassifying people’s role solely based on stereotypes. Does that help make it more clear?

    6. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      If there is something about being an admin that makes it ok to be “pranked” re planting bulbs in professional clothing based on gender stereotypes, I’d love to be educated on that. Or why it’s not patronizing to be given flowers when a male in the same position is given a gift card.

    7. mango chiffon*

      Actual admin here, I’d much rather get appreciation for the work I do throughout the year shown to me by not overworking me, or hiring when we are understaffed instead of just making us cover more support across the organization for no additional compensation. A gift card or a lunch is fine or whatever, but when we’re not getting support the rest of the year it does feel patronizing

    8. Lenora Rose*

      Well, and also the admins who, because they are the organizers, end up having to organize their own celebration.

      Maybe if more higher ups actually DID put forth the effort to organize admin’s day, they’d appreciate how much the admins must do on all the other days.

      1. Aurora Borealis*

        20+ year Admin here. We do enjoy our Admin day at this company.
        We get to pick the meal out and an activity. This year its a shooting range, pizza and beer. (We are 8 women, 2 men) Then the higher-ups coordinate it, get coverage for anything that needs it while we are gone and they come with us to enjoy the day. The plus side of that is we all enjoy each other. In this company, no one is better than anyone else because of seniority, title or education. We all work for the same company, just different capacities.

    9. Chutney Jitney*

      Bzzzt! Wrong. “All” the people outraged were not non-admins. You conveniently overlooked the comments by actual admins who actually don’t like the day. There were many of them in the thread. I have been an admin and I have been a non-admin. I do not like Secretaries’ Day, regardless of the rebranding.

      You can just use your words: “I know some people don’t like it, but I do.”

        1. SometimesMaybe*

          Ok so I reread my post and I did say all, my point was lot of people commenting on why it so degrading aren’t even admin, they seem to be offended that they were considered admin. It seems like professional mansplaining.

          1. Happy meal with extra happy*

            Please point out the many comments of people who are offended to be considered admin. The only comment I’ve seen that’s vaguely relevant at the time you made your first comment was Mitford’s comment which was about someone else in his company not liking being looped into a similar recognition (and Mitford’s comment called out the problematic nature of this response).

  24. Fives*

    I’m reading this while eating lunch and I lost track of how many times I said “Oh no!” out loud. WOW.

  25. Minimal Pear*

    Ohhh the irony of me (admin) having to run around frantically scrambling to deal with some last-minute bullshit today. Normally not a fan of the “holiday” but I think they should buy me something nice this year to make up for the crap I’m dealing with right now. :P

  26. Phony Genius*

    The title of “The Cake” seems to downplay the good part of the story in the best way possible. Diabolical cleverness.

    1. Kit*

      There’s a really amazing amount of cleverness – not only is the cake a lie, it’s item number four, so we’re presented with cake or death, too!

      I may have found myself wishing death on LW4’s boss by the end of it, too, but a catastrophic public disgrace is ego death and that’s pretty good. Pretty, pretty good.

      1. J*

        As an update to The Cake, boss recently faced criminal charges for another vice, still got re-elected, reached the 10 years needed to get his pension, and now in the last month he has resigned/”retired” and the new boss started this week. New boss immediately cut support staff’s weekly work at home day just in time for Admin Professional’s Day. That office is cursed.

  27. Jane Bingley*

    My boss can’t even remember his wife’s birthday, he’s not gonna remember today.

    Thankfully, he celebrates my work year-round by paying me well, giving me a ton of autonomy in my role, and regularly expressing his gratitude for all that I do. No flowers (or mulch?!) required.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Yep, this. And I think this is why holidays like this rankle so much, because really bad organizations that don’t pay well and don’t treat their employees well and in general treat them like replaceable cogs can then say “Well hey, we bought you FLOWERS!”

      Flowers don’t put food on the table.

      1. Flowers*

        Flowers don’t put food on the table.

        hey hey now…sometimes I cook! and take out is considered putting food on the table :p

    2. rayray*

      This seems much better. I work to sell my labor for money, and while tokens of appreciation are nice, nothing beats a fair salary and good treatment. Having autonomy in your job isn’t always the case as an admin, and it’s a wonderful thing to have that enables you to be really grow in your job.

  28. AngelS.*

    #6!!!!! “Thank you for all you do FOR us.”!!!! by people on the same level, with different roles. I have gently reminded them that I do it WITH them and that I’m not an assistant, but a collaborator.

  29. Chocoholic*

    My office has never done anything for Administrative Professionals Day. Last year, it happened to coincide with a retirement lunch for someone who was leaving, and I could not find anyone to deliver our lunch because all the delivery slots at all restaurants had been filled.

    This year, our new CEO asked what we have done in the past…nothing. So we have lunch catered for the office from Chipotle ahead of a 2 hour office-wide training.

  30. KC*

    As someone who was an EA for various execs for the first 7 years of her career and hated it… this post is giving me some serious PTSD-esque flashbacks. Whew!! The sexism was CONSTANT. Shoutout and solidarity to all my fellow assistants and former assistants!!!

    1. rayray*

      I’m with you. I did it once thinking it might give me time to figure out what I wanted to do, maybe even go back to school. It was the absolute worst job I have ever had. I do believe that some people are fortunate enough to work with great bosses who treat them with respect, pay them well, and allow them autonomy in their work but all of those things are rare in an admin role.

      Do a google search for “I hate working in admin” or “I hate being an executive assistant” and you will find endless horror stories.

  31. Michael G*

    I was once a one person band running the IT function.

    Every year management would take the office staff (all women) out to lunch on Administrative Professionals Day. The following weekend management would take the production staff (all guys, shocking I know) to a pro baseball game.

    I was always included in the lunch and never the ball game because clearly a guy who worked inside wouldn’t ever be interested in sports.

    1. Blueberry Daydream*

      I guess in management’s eyes, women who work indoors also wouldn’t ever be interested in sports.

      1. gmg22*

        Yeah, was gonna say, if you gave me (a woman) that choice I would pick the baseball game almost every time.

  32. aunttora*

    Many many years ago I worked for a medium-sized law firm that decided, instead of the usual lunch at a nice (not fancy or expensive) restaurant, which everyone was pretty meh about, they would rent all of the horse drawn carriages available, drive us around town and provide box lunches. Well, the carriages were kind of overloaded so they couldn’t go up or down any of the hills in the VERY hilly city core, instead we just went up one street about ten blocks, then down another street back to the starting point, over and over. This is not a scenic area. For the entire hour everyone we passed looked around for the rest of the parade. The horses were SUPER interested in the lunches in the carriage ahead of them, so the drivers spent the whole time struggling to keep things in line. (I hate the whole “horses in city traffic” thing anyway, they look pretty unhappy to me.) At one point we passed a building where a Stallone movie was being filmed, and we drove by just as he ran down an escalator to the street…and stopped, to gawk at the amazing sight passing before him. We gawked back. Next year we went back to a boring lunch.

    1. Silver Robin*

      Oh noooo! They clearly tried and clearly did not think it through. At least they recognized it went poorly and retreated to the neutral option. That sounds ridiculous.

      (I would have thought it was hilarious and sweet – carriage ride and a picnic lunch? Love it! But it has to actually work…)

  33. suburban alien*

    Instead of the usual free scrambled eggs for Admin day, we got invitations to an $18 lunch this morning. I don’t know what I was expecting (it’s not like useful professional development courses or promotional opportunities are going to happen) but I wasn’t expecting this.

  34. KatieP*

    On a related note, can we do away with Bosses Day? It felt weird enough when I was an IC. Now that I have direct reports, it feels extra icky and I ask them to treat it as any other day.

    1. baby twack*

      I’ve only gotten a gift once on bosses day and it was awful. May it never happen again.

    2. Quinalla*

      Bosses day for SURE needs to end immediately. Admin Professional Day is often celebrated in a problematic way or as a way to be like “See we appreciate you!” instead of paying admins what they should, so I get the calls to end it, but Bosses day is just never, ever a good idea. Get rid of it!

  35. Anonymous Admin*

    Our COS sent reminders 2 weeks ago to execs about today being APD, and I quietly deleted it from my manager’s calendar. Ahh….

  36. Artemesia*

    7 just fries my ass. It kind of works if it is a day when the bosses serve breakfast or bartend or whatever for administrative staff. To expect admins to act as servants for a day designed to ‘appreciate staff’ is grotesque.

    And women have long been given cookies or roses when men in similar roles are given money. Happens sometimes in tipping staff as well — somehow it is ‘unseemly’ to give women cash — the one thing we all work for.

    1. Goldenrod*

      “To expect admins to act as servants for a day designed to ‘appreciate staff’ is grotesque.”

      Exactly! I had a terrible job once where the execs made a big deal out of buying a bunch of food and inviting us to a conference room so they could thank us…

      That part was fine…But then, after the speeches and eating, they all just….left. It was assumed that we admin assistants would do all the clean-up….It wasn’t even designated, it was just an unspoken assumption…I don’t think it even crossed their minds that they were leaving a big mess for us to clean up. EVERY. YEAR. I do not miss that place!

  37. Whizzer*

    My male boss always took me to lunch for “Secretaries Day.” One year he asked me where I wanted to go. I chose a restaurant; can’t remember the name but it wasn’t expensive or fancy. Apparently, he didn’t like my choice because he said no and he was taking me to different restaurant, which just happened to be his favorite.

    1. Lizzie*

      My first job, back in the late 80s, my co-worker next to me got flowers from both of her bosses. she didn’t have room on her desk so she put one on mine. Ok fine, they’re pretty. MY boss came in, commented on them, and when i said no they’re CWs, for Secretaries Day, as it was known back then, she quickly said “oh, we’ll go out to lunch” – but I’m pretty sure she had completely missed it, and only said that because her peers had done something for their EA.

  38. everyonejustwantsfoodanyway*

    My last company was small-ish (about 150-200 employees). In order to combat this, each department got an appreciation week (throughout the year they were pretty spaced out). Other departments got to expense small gifts or food to give the other departments. Gifts ranged from chocolates, bagels to gift cards (90% of the time it was food or gift cards which pretty much everyone loved). It was actually very nice. That way no one got left behind in appreciation and it wasn’t singled out on (typical) female roles like AAs.

  39. E*

    Not Admin Day, but my company had a ‘Women in Construction Day’ once. I guess to highlight that women also work in construction? (in 2021!) They gathered all the women in the office for lunch. Women who do great work but are in positions such as HR, Accounting, Admin Assistant, Receptionist. Positions that are in every company, are not exclusive to construction and usually are frequently held by women. Women who weren’t invited? The ones who actually work in the field on the construction sites. Someone did not think that through at all!

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Me: I don’t get it. They are including all the…oh. nevermind.
      I bet the organizers were proud that they included ALL the women in the company…oh crap, what?

    2. Lucky Meas*

      Had that issue at an old manufacturing job. Let’s do a support group for women! OK great. But as we started to work out where it would be held, if it could be on company time or not, what would we do or talk about… somehow it turned out that only the back office women could participate, none of the women actually, you know, doing the manufacturing. Hmmm…

  40. LifeBeforeCorona*

    My first Admin day was when it was still called Secretarys’ Day. I was a junior secretary to a manager who was high enough on the food chain to have 2 secretaries, junior me and his right hand secretary. I had to stay behind to answer phones while all the other secretaries were taken out for lunch along with everyone else in the office. I sat alone until a manager who didn’t go out the lunch happened upon me, asked why I was left behind. He left and returned with flowers for me. It was a sweet gesture.

  41. HailRobonia*

    Many years ago when I was an administrative assistant, my organization was giving away chocolate and flowers for administrative professional’s day. I (a man) went with my coworker (a woman) to get our treats and flowers.

    The woman at the table handed my coworker her chocolates and flowers and said “happy administrative assistants’ day!” Then to me, she paused then said “you can give these to your secretary.”

    I used a faux-offended voice and said “I AM the secretary!”

  42. Silver Robin*

    I work in a non-profit and my manager sent around virtual cards for staff to sign; one to each of our admin/office manager folks. They also got a heap of candy in their mailbox. Unclear if this was something she just did because she could or if it was something from the higher ups too. She is in charge of capacity building and the like, so she spends a lot of time thinking about how to make working here better. Great manager, too!

    I, a project manager, also got candy because I end up doing a lot of admin work for my team and she wanted to recognize that, even if my full job is not “admin”. Certainly not mad, and this comes as one of several ways she has shown her appreciation for my work throughout the year.

    I think it is totally great for a company/org to have a day where they give a big shout out to admins, but it should be part of larger frameworks of appreciation. Well payed, regularly recognized, good benefits, AND some candy/lunch/afternoon off/whatever you know they would appreciate.

  43. Your Social Work Friend*

    I was in charge of this day, today. Asked my admin building assistant what she wanted. All she wanted was it to not be a big deal. Plant to keep the others on her desk company, six pack of her favorite drink, and an email about her hard work that went out on the school distribution list. We use these days (elementary school, we have a LOT of them) to help the kids work on recognize the work of the people around them and learn to show appreciation, just like we do for them. The stream of homemade cards, pencils, pictures, and 2.5 foot tall visitors expressing their love has been awesome to see. I like to think we’re doing the Hallmark holiday as well as we can.

  44. Meep*

    As a female engineer who is also the most tendered employee at my company, I totally feel 6 and 8. I agree we should cherish admin/office managers because they are grossly undervalued, but let’s do it everyday, maybe?

  45. Katie*

    All these days, especially Boss Day, need to be abolished. Reward us with a truly decent workplace.

  46. WillowSunstar*

    I actually like flowers. I do photography as a hobby and flower macros are my favorite thing. But yeah, some people can be allergic to flowers, and the whole thing with the mulch was just like…what the heck? It totally ignored the fact not everyone lives in actual houses and has a yard to garden in.

    1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      Oh no, it was even worse! They were supposed to plant those bulbs *around the building*.

  47. omg*

    Some of these stories!!!

    When I worked at a law firm we’d get lunch and $100 gift cards, and had to lock them in our desks because it was Known that if you left them out or just in your pen drawer that someone went around and stole them. I don’t know that they ever figured out who.

    At my current job, we all got a plant (we all have plant collections at work, so it’s on-brand for every single one of us) and we’re getting lunch. We’ve received Sbux cards in the past, and honestly I kind of wish we were getting one again this year.

    1. Lee*

      That is so awful that someone would steal your gift cards!!! But it is awesome that you got such a thoughtful gift.

  48. Flowers*

    A few months ago I witnessed one of the partners wondering out loud where some kitchen items were (utensils I think). One manager was around and said she’d check and he assured her that she didn’t need to do it. “oh no, it’s not your job.” and I think eventually he found them himself. I thought it was interesting he made a point to say that and I immediately thought of the conversations that happen here frequently re: “office moms”/office admin etc. Another one bakes cookies for a partner (a different one) but if anyone expected her to do that for them, it wouldn’t go over well. People are generally nicer here I’ve noticed and the attitudes seem to be refreshing…

  49. Lucy P*

    I would have never known about admin day except for the fact that my manager starting giving me gifts on this day years ago (back when it was still secretaries day). As the years went on, boss seemed to forget about it. For many years our admin staff consisted of 5 us, with me as the lead person. I always took it upon myself to buy small gifts for the other admins (men and women) just to say thank you. When boss would see the gifts, it acted as a reminder, and then we were all treated to lunch.
    Now, it’s a smaller office and I’m the only FT admin and the only admin who isn’t related to the company owner. No one gets recognition for Admin Day, Work Anniversaries, etc. unless I initiate it…So I bought myself a pastry on the way into office to treat myself. Now I feel appreciated.

  50. DaisyDuke*

    At my job the big boss used to get all the women flowery plants. Very sexist. We would thank him, roll our eyes, and take them home. Some women loved them but others, like me who can kill a plastic plant, hated having something else to take care of. Luckily he has retired and now we do some sort of snack in the afternoon, usually some sort of ice cream.

  51. LilPinkSock*

    Administrative assistant here. I like it, and I’m good at. I enjoy my teammates, respect my manager, and always feel valued.

    I enjoyed Administrative Professionals Day. Roast me, I guess.

    1. rayray*

      I think it’s great you enjoy your job.

      I have said many times, I would absolutely excel in an admin role and if I could have one where I was respected and paid enough to live off of, I’d be fine with it. It’s just hard to find, so you are very lucky.

    2. Huh what?*

      This comes off as an oddly aggressive comment towards people who are rightfully protesting the Hallmark holiday because of general poor treatment and sexism.

  52. BlueSwimmer*

    Another teacher here and have gotten so many cheap, lame symbolic gifts over the years. But…one year, the PTA president had her own catering business and she set up a baked potato bar for the teachers. It was AMAZING.

  53. The Formatting Queen*

    I worked as an Administrative Professional for more than 20 years (in various size organizations) and have literally never received ANY acknowledgements or gifts on those days, despite the fact that I know very well it was in my bosses’ calendars (CAUSE I MANAGED THE CALENDARS). Not once. But then again, reading these stories, maybe it’s better that way.

  54. Candice*

    I was working as an admin in a private bank that handled $7B AUM during the start of Covid. In years past the gift was apparently flowers and chocolate, that year it was a roll of toilet paper and some candy. I was new and didn’t want to make a fuss but it felt more like a joke that anything. Best part was it was picked out by the Office Manager.

  55. Retail Dragon*

    During my five years as a church office administrator, the pastor took me out to lunch my first year for admin appreciation day. We met up with two other local pastors and their teams of admins. Teams. I was the only one from our church. They looked at me with pity and horror. It was the only time in my entire tenure that anyone did anything for me on that occasion (or, indeed, almost any other).

  56. Luna*

    Wow. I personally see no reason to give flowers as gifts, as they usually don’t last long enough to really be worth it. And similar to LW#2, I have cats, so making sure any flowers I do bring home are non-toxic if my cats decide to chomp on them, that’s just another good reason to opt for fake ones. They can be pretty, like real ones. If not prettier.

  57. Julia*

    I had completely forgotten about admin day until another admin at a sister location emailed me this mornin

  58. LockupLibrarian*

    I’m a librarian in a prison, and for unknown reasons, we belong to the prison guards’ union. Obviously, the civilians only make up a very small portion of the union.
    Most years, the librarians get lumped in with the admin. professionals on the day, and we get a VERY stern email telling us we must RSVP ASAP to let them know if we will be coming to the catered Subway sandwiches lunch.
    My favorite part is the note that drinks will NOT be provided!!!

  59. Immortal for a limited time*

    Yep, #5 and #8 – same here. Early 90s, large soft-drink company, small distribution center. I was one of only 3 women in the whole place. I wasn’t a “secretary” (what they called it then) and my office was nowhere near the front office where the “secretaries” worked. But the manager thought I’d feel left out if they got flowers and I didn’t. Even back then I was like, WTF?

  60. Happy I’m Retired #500,000,000*

    I worked in government. We had a community group once put together gift bags for our agency’s employees. They picked us because one of their member’s daughter did a similar job “and I hear from her stories about what it can be like”. The bag included a small, empty pill case. Our boss wanted me and the other female manager to go through the bags and take out the pill cards “because they encourage drug addiction”. We refused so he tried to get two of the guys to do it. They refused. Everyone thought the pill cases were cute and the most useful part. And oddly, we could trace no evidence of drug addiction to them!

  61. shedubba*

    I feel like every one of these stories could have involved the character of Brent Norwalk from The Good Place. Except maybe #2, that workplace seems to have actually listened to the criticism and improved.

  62. VeThey*

    I reminded my boss a week and a half ago about Admin Professionals’ Day and offered to help organize, do the purchasing, etc. I’m the manager of all admin staff in my company. My request was completely ignored until the day BEFORE (so, yesterday). They had ordered Panera for everyone! Oh, except me, because I have food allergies and so couldn’t eat ANYTHING they ordered except a bag of plain potato chips. Then, once the food arrived, they realized they didn’t get any plates or silverware, so I had to run to the store. Then they ignored my calls from the store to ask if they also wanted me to pick up drinks, since those were also not provided.

    One of the (non-admin) employees felt bad for me and bullied me until I agreed to let him go buy me lunch that I could eat. :( And then I heard him LOUDLY telling everyone how good of a person he was for doing so. (also, he was reimbursed for both the cost of lunch and his mileage, and was doing so on paid time)

    Next year I’m just going to force them to let me plan it.

  63. Chirpy*

    Reading these just makes me think of the absolute ugliness that would come out if anyone ever makes a Retail Workers Day.

    I mean, at best it’s management giving us a pizza party, at worst it’s a parade of entitled customers telling us why we don’t deserve anything and should just live in a box for the “honor” of serving them.

  64. Not A Real Manager*

    Though I haven’t been subject to one of these terrible acts of recognition, I have noticed when I (the office admin) and told “we’re having this meal/event/gathering, but don’t worry about it. You can just enjoy this one!”

    It a) doesn’t ever happen, b) the organizer forgets a crucial element (like how payment will work), or c) it is overall a chaotic mess and the organizer says things like “I didn’t realize organizing catered lunches was this complicated!”.

    Yes. That’s why admins are a job.

    1. Jessica*

      Yeah, do we have Neurosurgeons Appreciation Day, where we give all the neurosurgeons flowers and tell them to just chill out and put their feet up, and today we’ll just have candy stripers handle the neurosurgery so they can have a day off? NO WE DO NOT, and with good reason. The same applies to the idea of certain bosses organizing anything.

    2. J*

      This really speaks to so much of the issue. An admin will likely have to plan and coordinate part of the day because it is a job that requires specific knowledge of processes, planning and people. Just tell us what to do, potentially spread the work around, or go with something full service so you have plates or forks or tables or food, all of which I’ve seen overlooked.

  65. Ann*

    Yeah, we just did cards for all the admin in our dept (higher ed), signed by everyone, a small bouquet of flowers, and a $50 Amazon gift card for each. We had a dept meeting where we spoke about our gratitude for these people and the skills that they bring to all our work. There are a lot of things that can be frustrating about working in higher ed but I’m so appreciative to work with really grateful people who actively work to recognize others!

  66. Seminaranalyse*

    at Nr.7 i always think that a Casino is always inappropiate in a workplace. you’ll never know who you Trigger with a Casino.

  67. Lee*

    I came here looking for others who are being underappreciated today (I never receive anything from my boss, not even an acknowledgement of the day). Some of these stories are horrifying but at least I feel a little less sorry for myself. It really sucks to work all the time (including nights/weekends/holidays/sick days) and be at his beck and call yet never have it appreciated. He gives awful, thoughtless holiday gifts (I literally got a fruitcake) and nothing for my birthday. I put so much thought into the gifts I pick out for him but he lets me know how little he thinks of me. I think I need to find a new job for my sanity.

    1. Michelle Smith*

      Gifts should always flow down, not up. Unless he’s paying for you to do it with his money, please stop giving him gifts.

  68. Sabina*

    I was the Executive Assistant for an elected official in a small town. For Admins’ Day (which he called Secretaries’ Day) he took myself and two other female employees (who were more technical workers than admins) “out to lunch”. Lunch turned out to be a potluck put on by the local women’s auxiliary of a national political party, one none of us “guests ” supported. Also, it appeared he had made no actual contribution to the lunch spred but just showed up with three very uncomfortable employees in tow. It was awkward to say the least.

  69. Mrs. Hawiggins*

    I got the most exquisite bouquet and a company signed card, today. It’s not lost on me that I think my boss overheard me say to a coworker this morning, “I could literally quit right now.” My day has been that bad.

    Later she came up to me and said, “What can I do to help you out.” I hoped my frustration about other things wasn’t showing but, if it was, that comment meant a lot to me.

    Make no mistake I could have made a cameo in a few of these stories both above and below the line. I know what it’s like to be the recipient of forced humor or what somebody thought “would be cute.” I actually handed a gag gift back to the giver right in front of a whole admin appreciation lunch party one time. “You can use this better than I can.” Let your mind go there…

    But today was good. I’m glad they’re not all nightmares (at least for me) anymore.

  70. Agent Ydrys*

    My co-worker came to my office today to wish me a happy Administrative Professional Day. I’m the Finance Director of a small not-for profit, effectively the CFO. WTF?

    To be fair, I am also the accounting department, but Admin Assistant? No.

  71. Aphrodite*

    You know what might be the near-perfect gift for APD? (This is aside from money and/or paid time off.) A serious conversation with a manager, a director, a VP, a CEO or any other management person about what the admin can do to move into management herself. Assuming they are interested but have never been thought of management materials, any upper member of management expressing interest in mentoring and find opportunities for current admins to move out of administrative work and into all facets of higher-level responsibilities and pay.

    Think “promotion.” What can you as a manager give to your admin besides, candy, flowers, lunch, gift cards, etc . The opportunity to use all those skills in other (again, non-administrative) roles. But this is likely to only come about if the management mindset changes to automatically include in-house admins when important opening occur because otherwise such an idea requires prodding by someone else. I dream of the day that owners, managers, and HR automatically look at their admin staff first.

  72. Kira*

    I work as an educational consultant. One of my clients was a local school district where it just so happened that all the administrative assistants and clerks were women and all the district administrators (principals, business official, superintendent, etc.) were men. I went to the school once a week for awhile and got to know the folks there pretty well.

    By education and position I was more like the administrators in the office, but due to my vagina I was more like the clerks. This must have been very confusing for the folks there.

    I was working in the school on administrative professionals day and the superintendent came to my office and invited me to join the rest of the ladies in the library to celebrate. Not wanting to make waves I went and got my bagel… to this day my friends tease me about my “vagina bagel.” — and by the way, this story made it into a web comic I used to write!

  73. Really Anon Here*

    I generally enjoy Admin Professionals Day – but one year did make me mad. Sandra Day O’Connor was in town and there was a $50/plate lunchtime function that happened to be on APDay. The law firm postponed APDay for a week and all the attorneys went to the function to hear her speak. Getting to hear Sandra Day O’Connor speak in person would’ve been the perfect APDay and at $50/a plate each partner could’ve paid for one or two of us to go and not even felt a pinch. (We had lunch catered from a local grocery chain the next week. Didn’t even get to leave the office.)

  74. LizW*

    Putting this here instead of 4/27/28 post about what we really want…

    I am impressed with whoever picked out the gift this year despite my annoyance at being lumped in with the admins (I feel like over inclusion waters down their contributions). We all received what would normally be a ho-hum lunch bags but they included bento boxes that fit inside, picked a bag style(color/pattern) that completely fits each of us, and had them monogrammed.

    Coworker and I just realized we have never had anything with our monogram on it (I’m almost 50 and she’s maybe 35).

    Whoever planned this deserves a big hug just for their thoughtfulness and knowledge of our personalities. And I am not a hugger.

  75. Scotty Doesn't Know*

    I’ve been in a role as Office Administrator/Office Manager for three years now, my first time in such a role. Neither the Owners or Managers have ever acknowledged the day, and while I’ve been slightly disappointed about that, I know the day is wrought with opportunities to go sideways.

    Yesterday, the newest employee on his way out the door stopped at my desk to wish me a happy Administrative Professionals day. I thanked him for acknowledging it and went about my day. While I was on lunch I received a vague thank you text from my supervisor. This employee then went to Upper Management and said something. When I came back from lunch I found an office-wide email from our Head of Operations that:

    Thanked me and others in support roles.
    Then went back to spotlight me.
    Thanked me for doing my job, including notifying the workplace of birthdays and anniversaries?
    Stopped to clarify that he never put much in to birthdays or anniversaries himself/herself.
    Thanked the employee who reminded him it was Administrative Professionals day.
    Again thanked everyone in support positions.
    Included a quote/meme that included a picture of a bouquet of flowers and another thank you quote.

    I think this day makes people’s head’s swim. I understand the frustration now.

  76. Kat*

    Earlier in my career, I worked in a Human Resources dept as an administrative assistant simply because I was new to the area and that was what was available for work, despite being wildly outside my background, and despite the title not really reflecting my role. There was one other assistant as well as a coordinator. On administrative professionals day, both the other assistant and the coordinator received beautiful flower bouquets as well as a lengthy appreciation email sent to the rest of the staff. I was not mentioned (though later in the day I did receive an equally beautiful but clearly hastily purchased bouquet). One of the department leadership came down to my office later to say that they didn’t even think to include me in the email because the high level of work I did meant “we never really think of you that way.” While I’m sure she intended her thoughtless statement to be a compliment, to me, it felt A) condescending about the role of an admin assistant and B) acknowledging that they were giving me far more difficult work to do but happily paying me less than they would anyone else to do it.

  77. Vio*

    I’m glad we don’t have such a day here, I can only imagine how disastrous it would be.
    For number 3 I’d have been tempted to ‘accidently’ spill the wheelbarrows in their offices, or perhaps on their cars. Amazing how it somehow got all over their chairs, computers and favourite mugs…

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