This time, it’s personal
Rebecca Eckler lets us in
on the latest trend in luxury living
There is one gossip columnist, who will remain anonymous, in this city that has a dirty little secret. He pretends to have a personal assistant during the Toronto film festival to help garner the best invites.
During the film festival, it’s important to come across as if you are important, he would argue. As far as I can tell, people are picking up on the idea. I know I have. And I’m not the only one.
Recently, I was shocked to get an e-mail response from a stranger on behalf of a good friend of mine. “She’s in Paris right now,” the e-mail read. “I’ll make sure I pass on the message.”
Apparently, my friend had jumped on the latest trend floating around Forest Hill and Rosedale these days. If pink is the new black, personal assistants are the new iPhones. The latest in luxury accessories goes beyond technological gizmos and designer labels into the land of labour relations.
Thankfully — and I mean really, really thankfully — I hadn’t said anything politically incorrect or made some stupid-ass joke in my e-mail. How embarrassing would that be? I mean, give a girl a bit of notice, would you?
The cost of a personal assistant per month is about the equivalent of one semi-nice designer handbag — cheaper if you hire one part-time.
As of now, I have five friends who have enlisted their own assistants to help them with everything from interior design projects and public relations work to picking up the laundry and running errands. These are people with whom I go grocery shopping or meet for coffee. Not a Kardashian in the bunch.
One of my friends, a freelance fashion photographer, hired a personal assistant to make phone calls for him and respond to his e-mails. He dictates to her what he wants to say in his e-mails as she types away. “It’s fun and it makes me feel important, so why not?” he says when I ask him if he really needs someone to do that for him.
Another friend, who owns her own small public relations business, hired a personal assistant because one of her friends had one.
“My friend had one and I thought, Why not? I didn’t exactly need one, but then I thought, I have so much bullshit I don’t want to do on my own, why not?”
All it takes, it seems, to find a twenty-something personal assistant is to ask another twenty-something personal assistant for a friend.
I have had a personal assistant now for almost a year, sharing her with another writer.
I don’t really need a personal assistant. But, then again, I really didn’t need that Max Mara dress I just bought last week either. (And I get more out of my personal assistant than I will the dress.)
However, my personal assistant has made my life so much more organized. She bought me a Daytimer, unasked, because she saw how disorganized I was. She calls my makeup artist for me when I need to go to an event. She invoices all my employers, which is something I was always awful at. And, she will come up with excuses on my behalf when I have to bail, or she will tell me, point blank, “You need to go to this.” She’s like a tough-love mother.
It is easy to adapt to having a personal assistant.
When another friend with a personal assistant e-mailed me, we had this awkward e-mail exchange through our assistants. I was like, “But you stop by my house for coffee every morning! We’re friends! Can’t you get back to me?”
Apparently, having a personal assistant is similar to having an accessory, like Paris Hilton and her mini dogs. You have a cute doggie; you carry it around in its wee designer purse. You have a personal assistant; you get them to respond.
When my friend came back from Paris, I called her and said, “WTF?” She answered she had to hire a personal assistant to make her kids’ doctors’ appointments, remind her about getting things fixed around the house and even make a meal plan for her. So, really, she hired one because I had one. Another friend, a part-time interior designer, says her personal assistant took the job with her instead of doing an unpaid internship somewhere.
“First, I pay her. I pay her more than minimum wage, and also she gets to see what I do on a daily basis,” she explains. “She gets contacts, too, and can see if she likes what I do, everything that goes into it. And if she were interning some place, she wouldn’t even get paid!”
With the film festival this month it should be interesting. As one of my friends who works for a movie company says, “If you get your personal assistant to call to get you an invite, or on the guest list, it will work better than just calling yourself.”
And why not all the time? Try writing me. Claudia will get back to you right after RSVPing to my favourite film festival parties.
Post City Magazines’ columnist Rebecca Eckler is the author of Knocked Up, Wiped!, and her latest books: How to Raise a Boyfriend and The Lucky Sperm Club.