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by Abigail Van Buren

Making Coffee Leaves Bitter Taste in Secretary's Mouth

DEAR ABBY: I am a secretary and have been for some years now. But recently, I started working with a new company, and I have one major problem with one of the higher authorities (who isn't my boss/supervisor) who uses me as her personal secretary -- and I do mean personal. She has me doing her income taxes, her daughter's income taxes, her lease, etc., and making coffee. The last duty is extremely irksome.

Yes, I am supposed to assist her, as directed by my boss. But he means as an aide, not a maid. I do not like coffee, therefore I don't drink it -- so why do I have to make it? I really don't think coffee-making is in any secretarial job description.

I really would like to tell her to do her own personal things and make her own coffee, but she's very sneaky and I fear she might go behind my back and tell my boss some off-the-wall story. How do I handle this without jeopardizing my job or any future references I may need when I decide to change jobs in the future? -- NO PERSONAL SECRETARY

DEAR NO PERSONAL SECRETARY: If you are comfortable with your own boss, talk with him confidentially. Keep the level professional, and calmly explain what this lady is asking you to do, specifically. Tell him that the woman's personal requests are cutting into company time and productivity.

From there on it is the responsibility of your boss either to direct you to fulfill this lady's requests or not. But remember, it is the boss's responsibility to speak to this "higher authority" -- and not yours.