In praise of the Admin Lady

What is an admin lady? I always see requests for an admin lady in the job classifieds. Often it’s for a mornings-only position.

The question is rhetorical of course. What could be more evocative in the South African idiom than that particular term? The admin lady is middle aged with a kapsel  hairstyle. She might smoke Courtney Satin Leaf Extra Mild (if she smokes), wear biggish glasses and do all her shopping at Checkers. And, as her name suggests, an admin lady does admin. She files and checks for post. She makes the tea and pays the wages of the drivers. She keeps the accounts of the business and panics every February when the auditors arrive.

We had many admin ladies in my church in the mining town where I grew up. They were often in the choir. They lapped up everything the Reverend said. And they helped at cake sales and fellowship suppers. Each one had her forté: chocolate cake, potato salad, tongue in raisin sauce, Herzoggies. And from Monday to Friday they worked at the time office at the local mine.

Thank God for them. Thank Heaven that they are there. These salt-of-the-earth old birds are what prevent many people from going off the rails. They are timeless, unchanging, perennial as the grass. Their consistent, level-headed, common-sense approach to things can always be relied on, no matter what the weather, no matter the levels of panic and hysteria. There is no pretence; no superficial affectation. Thank God for them.


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