As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that the world is mainly comprised of weirdos, oddballs, and downright creeps.

Our office building is full of creepy people. Here are just five examples.

1. Romeo on Wheels: The King of Creeps is the smarmy delivery guy who just loves the receptionists (but gets no love in return). He enters the office with grandiose swagger because, of course, he is the highlight of our day. He pretends not to struggle with heavy boxes as he goes on about how he DJs on the weekend and dabbles in poetry. Wow, maybe if I play my cards just right he’ll let me ride in the delivery van with him!

2. The Wanderer: This guy is seen wandering the halls but never actually enters an office. He’s always out there, pacing around, but what is he really doing? Who is he? Could he be a ghost but just not a very scary one? No one knows.

3. The Restroom Wrecker: Comes in both male and female versions — you just don’t want to use the restroom after them. Maybe they live somewhere where there are only outhouses or people just go out in the fields. Even if so, I think a toilet is rather self-explanatory, don’t you? Perhaps this is their version of marking territory?

4. The Mystery Man: He has an office but he’s rarely there. The business name above the door gives no clue as to the nature of his work, and on the rare occasion you do see him slip in and out of his office, he never speaks nor acknowledges anyone. Obviously he is a time traveler who uses his office as his base. Well, either that or a drug dealer.

5. The Cryer: The woman seen on a cell phone roaming the hallways screaming at her lover/husband/wife. She steps out of the office to make these calls so that no one in the office knows her business. Now, everyone in the building knows her business but no one in her office does.

Click HERE to learn how to do the creep!

On a more serious note, I am shifting over to the marketing department as the new marketing associate so this will be my last post, but have no worries, my replacement Josh Millican will be taking over the column with as much attitude and personality.


Wondering if there’s enough room in the budget to hire this guy as an assistant.

The proposal guidelines on our website are for authors, but no one seems to pay them any mind. Apparently there’s a rumor among authors that if they can skip the pesky proposal stage and cleverly navigate their way to an editor, that editor will not only be so impressed that he will immediately stop the presses and demand an immediate printing of their masterpiece, but also commit suicide immediately thereafter, because once they’ve felt the presence of such genius, all life is a pale disappointment

This means that these writers will try some innovative tricks to get past me to an editor. Here are my five favorites:

1. Brazen Confidence:  Authors will simply show up in person, unannounced with manuscript in hand, and demand to speak to an editor – sometimes even trying to walk over to the editorial offices. But I am impervious to their imperialist self-important vibes and have gotten into the practice of standing up when someone unfamiliar and unexpected opens our door. They may think I’m graciously receiving them and honoring their genius, but really I’m getting ready to tackle them if need be.

2. The Doctor’s Office: Many authors will call and try to make an “appointment” to meet with an editor. Denying them an appointment angers them, so I keep reminding them of the proposal guidelines. They counter by asking again for an appointment. And when I explain why we can’t take appointments, they’ll resort to the novel approach of asking me yet again. Amazingly, the third time they ask, it works and I set up a meeting. Of course I’m kidding. The answer is still no.

3. The Call-Back: Every now and then I’ll get someone who claims they were called by one of our editors and asked to call back to discuss their work. However, all of our editors have direct phone lines, so if they wanted to talk to someone, they wouldn’t have given them the main line. Oh, and a note to you authors: if one of the editors spoke to you about a book over five years ago and you’re just responding now, the statute of limitations has run out and you need to start over (i.e. – get cracking on that proposal).

4. The Savior: Some authors believe that because they just know that their book is going to save humanity, end wars, cure cancer, and make the Kardashians disappear forever*, that they have the right to “skip the line” and talk to someone in editorial. Here’s a revelation: everyone has an answer to the world’s problems nowadays– have you noticed the Facebook postings where someone who can’t calculate simple fractions suddenly feels confident enough to challenge national economists? Or what about those people who couldn’t even get elected secretary in their elementary school class commenting on presidential campaigns? We are a nation of self-proclaimed geniuses and experts! I’m sorry, but even God needs to submit a proposal.

5. The Life Story: There are countless memoir writers who feel that if they can tell me their story that I’ll patch them through to an editor out of guilt. In some cases, there are genuine heroes among this lot but in most cases, they’re not particularly amazing stories. I’m not trying to belittle what they’ve endured or their triumphs over personal setbacks, but right now there’s a cocaine-addicted child soldier in Sudan who was forced to witness the rapes and murders of his own family and who now has been given an automatic rifle and told to take out another family or risk having his limbs hacked off with a rusty machete. Tell that kid about being bullied in junior high and the damage that it did.

Long story short: have you seen the PROPOSAL GUIDELINES?

* If you really can make the Kardashians disappear forever without breaking the law, I will actually patch you through to an editor.

Think I just answer the phone and photocopy things? Wrong! I am tremendously skilled – far more so than you may know. Here are five things I can do that you can’t:

1. I can weigh packages by hand: That’s right, you read correctly – I can accurately guess the weight of any mail simply by holding it in my palm, and I’ve got deadly accuracy. I can also tell you from memory how much it’s going to cost to get it to most major American cities and more than a few international locations by when via at least three different carriers. I am the Expedia of mail service.

2. I can navigate the building blind and armless: I can open doors with my knees. I can also navigate the entire building with my vision obstructed (usually by boxes I’m carrying). I attribute this to Belle from Beauty and The Beast. After watching that movie as a child, I realized how much time I was wasting by not reading as I walked. So, I’ve been practicing that one for a while. Good thing, because my hands are always full in this job, both literally and metaphorically. Bonus skills: elevator calling and floor button-pressing using my right foot only (it sounds easy but just try it).

3. I instinctively know how people want to be spoken to: A big part of my job concerns speaking with the countless guests in the reception area while they wait for a meeting, so I’ve perfected this technique with time and experience. Just by looking, I can see who wants to chat, who wants me to be impressed by them, who wants me to be interested in their work, and who just wants to be left alone. Prostitutes are perhaps the only other professionals who rely on this skill as much as I do. Maybe therapists. No, neither of these occupations figure into my long-term career goals.

4. I know how things really get done: Power comes from knowing and having relationships with the CEOs and upper management, right? Maybe for some things, but for everyday issues, your most valuable friends are the security guards who always give you a break, the caterers who show up and make no mistakes, and the janitors and maintenance workers who readily respond to emergency requests. To use an analogy: when you check into a hospital, you’re not putting your life in the hands of the surgeons. Your life is in the hands of the file clerk who makes sure your records are correct, the orderly who makes sure you’re in the right ward and bed, and the trainee nurse who knows your food allergies. Remember that.

5. I can predict the future. Sort of: At least in connection with office administrative issues, I can anticipate and prepare for the actions of any employee or guest. I can tell when a guest verbally commits to showing up that he won’t or that he’ll be very late.  I know which employees will ask for my help and when and with what. I ask certain coworkers to turn out their pockets as they reenter the office, because I know they’re walking away with the bathroom key. You may just think that this skill comes from experience but I knew you were going to think that! Proof!

Your resume seems less impressive now, doesn’t it?

“We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” -Immanuel Kant

Just replace “animals” with “receptionists” to understand my debut tirade. As the administrative assistant at Berrett-Koehler, I am the first and last face an author sees when entering and exiting our office. Here are the five ways authors treat me when no one else is around:

1. The Coffee-Girl: When authors come into the office in the morning, they often ask for a cup of coffee. Now, up until very recently we did not have a coffee maker, and it fell on me to inform them of this sad lack. For the ones who took it in stride and thanked me, I truly wish I could have pulled a cup out of thin air for them. To the ones who scoffed at me, I gave explicit directions to the Peet’s downstairs and hoped they got stuck in the elevator.

2. The Invisible Woman: Now and then I’ll get an author who throws open the front door, blasts past my desk completely disregarding me, and makes his or her way down the hall (presumably towards where the important people are). If I can’t get their attention by the time they pass the production office, I’m forced to get up and chase after them. When I finally catch them, I’ll either be met with a) an eager smile and apology because they just couldn’t wait to start visiting or b) a look of disdain accompanied by “Well, they know me.”

3. The Handywoman: Admittedly, I am quite handy. I made a couple of our bookshelves, a desk, a birthday card for one of my coworker’s wives, and self-Ikea’d the chairs in our reception area. I’m sure authors sense these skills in me when they request help setting up something, and I am happy to help. But “help” means me and the author working together – not me struggling and huffing and panting while the author stands at a distance with arms crossed and waiting impatiently.

4. Siri (the iPhone feature): No greeting, no smile, barely any eye contact, just orders or instructions or questions. Yes, your focus on function over superficialities is impressive but come on, throw me a bone here!

5. A Person: Genuine niceness with no ulterior motives – so awesome when this happens. This job can drain me dry so it’s just great to have someone chat with me, ask how I’m doing, even offer to get me something. These people are the only ones who’ll know of my encyclopedic knowledge of all things Star Wars, my penchant for all things furry and four-legged, and my sparking wit and humor.

Oh, and just so that you know, I do report to “the important people” about how you treat me. Consider yourself warned.