World's worst assistants? 4 office nightmares

Think you have the world's worst assistant? Is your support staff so incompetent you rarely use them? We asked around and got 4 stories -- most funny, some awful -- of truly terrible right-hand men and women.

We've withheld names for the privacy of both the assistants and their former bosses -- and because we hope that these "world's worst assistants" have since outgrown that title.

The one who doesn't know how to BCC

"My boss' assistant sent a promotional email out to my boss' entire email database without BCC-ing any of the contacts. The email went to her boss, colleagues and a few local celebrities. We were all horrified. We called our web hosting company to see if they could stop the email, but of course it had already been sent to everybody. The web hosting company then informed us that due to the large quantity of emails that were sent, our email would be down for the next 2 hours.

"Two hours went by and we had a plan in place to explain the situation -- we were ready. What we were not ready for was my boss' assistant to send out another email apologizing for the last email to the same list, without BCCing anyone. Again."

The one with the potty mouth

"I have had several bad assistants over the years, but the one that really takes the prize was a part-time fashion model who would routinely tell anyone who called in that I was in the bathroom when I wasn't available, instead of just saying I wasn't available. She was also prone to having screaming matches with other employees in the hallway; ordering stinky lunches that would cause people to complain; and dressing just a tad too provocatively. She had been resting on the laurels of her modeling career, and clearly administrative tasks in our office was second fiddle. I used to say that if being a bad assistant were a good thing and it were baseball, she'd be batting near .800."

The one who faked his own recommendation

"He couldn't figure out the phone, the copier, the fax, anything. Messed a ton of client materials. Then one day, he just did not show up. And that is when it got worse. He was doing work-study and I had to fill out an evaluation. His professor calls me and tells me that there is a disconnect between his paper and my evaluation. He faxes the paper to me. This guy lied throughout it.

"[Later, after he got a job at another firm,] I called my friend at the agency and I said, Surely he couldn't be any more competent for you then he was for me. She said, 'Well, you recommended him.' I told her I had not. She faxes me a letter. He forged a letter of recommendation from me. And to make matters worse, he misspelled both my first and last name."

The one with no tact

"I once worked at a place that had the world's most incompetent assistant ... a woman who said, 'Uh' before each 'Hello.' But the topper came when I happened to be in the IT guy's office. She came in and said, 'Uh -- your brother is on the phone. Something about your mother dying ...'

"I wheeled around and began making flight arrangements for him, too angry to so much as speak to the woman."

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    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including, and and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit