Who am I? When you work for a private individual it can be complicated defining your role in their life. As well as dealing with all the usual challenges, much depends on their personal situation, and how that reflects on what is required. Working the way I do, I am usually in a client’s home, so the relationship is very different to being office based. Looking back over many years and many clients I have identified a few categories.
‘Professional Wife’ probably best describes my role for my longest standing client. From keeping the household running smoothly and overseeing home improvements through to making tea for the window cleaner and shopping for his family’s Christmas presents, these are the kind of tasks that the super-efficient wife would perform. Let’s just say a wife is not on the cards in this case, and when my husband asks how come I don’t always snap to it so speedily at home, I remind him of my hourly rate.
My role was more ‘Surrogate Girlfriend’ for another client. He was young and shy and setting up home in the big smoke for the first time. We looked at sofas, and I did Ikea runs for pot plants and magazine racks. I worried about his appalling diet and made sure there was fruit in the flat. Happily, I was one of the first people he called when he got engaged to his girlfriend on holiday, and helping them plan their wedding felt like the perfect natural end to my job with him.
‘Gal Pal’ best describes my position for a lovely young woman client. I helped her choose outfits for big nights and select and then book restaurants for cosy dinner dates. I would use my keys to get clothes from her house and have them delivered to her in case of emergencies – this was additional to all the usual admin the job involves.
‘Third Wheel’ sums up how I felt caught in the middle of a high powered couple. Being given lists of tasks by both parties is fine, it’s when those lists contradict each other that problems arise, especially when I was the one expected to broker a diplomatic solution to whatever situation was causing disagreement. And picture this, husband asks me to source and purchase a gift for wife. Wife then asks me to return the item for a refund. Awkward!
It goes without saying that all these roles were completely in the professional sense, but it reminds me why I have so enjoyed the roster of clients I have had. I think you do have to be ‘good’ at relationships to be successful in this role, and certainly flexible. I start a job full of expectations after interviews and discussions about what the job will entail, but also wondering who I may end up being once I get settled in.
Guest post written by Merryl Futerman, Founder of PA Insiders.
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