writing

Big Mouth

Secretaries are the foundations of all businesses. Without us, who would create and save files, faxes, records and contracts? We have memories like no others. We can find things thought to be lost in seconds flat. We keep our bosses on point, and points on pencils.  Once a secretary, always a secretary. Read on.

My passion for tennis has gotten me into big trouble. I should be shot at high noon. Stripped of all my tennis skirts. Strangled with my shoelaces. Karate chopped with a Head racket. You see, I have a big mouth. imageWhenever I get passionate about something – writing, running or playing tennis, I start talking it up to any fool who will listen. The man in the elevator oogling my legs in a 12″ Eleven tennis skirt. The store where I buy New Balance. Friends I haven’t seen in years! Facebook.

A year ago when I joined a tennis group called LOL at Greenspring Valley Racquet Club, in Lutherville, Maryland, I told the captain if she ever needed help organizing members, to let meknow. Members were showing up late, not telling her when they’d be absent, and signing up by phone but not starting the season until they felt like it. Half a year later, she’d had enough, and asked me if I wanted her job. Of course I did! I thought it would be fun.

She laid the groundwork for me, I merely amped it up a bit. I’ve instilled rules like players finding their own subs, provided an Excel roster to all players with home phones, cell phones, email addresses and first and last names. On a separate Excel sheet are names and numbers of subs and what days they’re available to play. With this in hand, I hoped I’d be able to turn chaos into order.

Having spent 16 some years as an administrative assistant, organizing people and work duties has been my forte. Being dependable, thinking ahead of need, and creating lists upon lists of things to do is how I run my personal life, too. Multi tasking is my middle name. Now that I don’t have an office to go to, I’ve applied these tools to my tennis life. To the day I die, I don’t believe I’ll ever lose my skills at organization.

At one point in my working career, I was a PR director. What a crazy fun job that was! As a consequence, I developed a lot of confidence in myself in that I had to be out in the community. Public relations is all about connections, selling your product to complete strangers, and performing face to face meetings. Glad handing. Screw social media. It puts distance between you and the public. In addition to that title, I also did Events. Created social outlets for a private school whereby the head wanted its alumnae to return to school, have fun, and, eventually gift the school money. In the three years I held the job(s), I created several events that are now annual, and recruited younger alumnae to use the school’s facilities for fun and relaxation. In addition, I attracted the press and made accommodations for the school head to write a parenting column on a monthly basis.

But back to tennis. I learned an invaluable tool in PR that fits me like a shadow, I’m very good with people, introducing myself to strangers, then becoming good friends. Because I’m passionate about tennis, I tend to be persuasive in my conversation. I talk about the benefit of exercise, how important it is for women to build up their wrist, arm and shoulder muscles (orthopedists say those bones are the first to break in a fall). How two hours of tennis are much better for women than two hours of running, because you’re using so many muscle groups. Like a virus, I don’t give up easily. I’m often able to hook in new players and pass on my enthusiasm. This past spring I spread the word that memberships could be had for $150. It was a short special that enabled 40 people to own block time for the summer at 3/4 less the usual cost.

I spent most of my working career managing people, making up anything from work schedules to spa appointments to parent conferences. I now do tennis scheduling, same schtick, different scenario. Scheduling is like solving a puzzle. Usually, there’s a missing piece – a player who awakens with a migraine, and calls around for subs. In another job, as a supervisor, I’ve learned to lead, negotiate, motivate and quell subordination. I have a long fuse, and know many alternate ways to calm, or convince, an irate employee to consider another way to approach things. Mainly I’m a good listener. Being passionate about tennis and wanting more people to experience the high that I do when playing the game is how you become a good team manager. In tennis there is a lot of gossiping where women are involved. Knowing it’s happening is half the battle. And, understanding that some women are never happy is the other half.

Another trick up my sleeves is offering up door prizes for both blocks: Simple things like racket weights, candy, bottles of beer, Rice Krispie treats. Soon we’re going to pause after evening tennis to share a bottle of wine. The evening block time starts at 6:30 pm, so a glass of vino and some cheese and crackers afterwards puts a nice cap on the evening. Some leagues have gatherings in bars and restaurants. Prizes are awarded. But my group is non-usta, and just for fun. Scores go nowhere.

Since I have a big mouth, I might as well use it, don’t you think? Who knows how many new members I can recruit in the Fall?

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