Commentary: Now hiring! Low-profile art world family seeks personal assistant
Did you hear about that so-called worst job ever that’s gone viral? The one posted by an anonymous New York-based “Art World Family” seeking an employee to help run a household staff that includes “chef, nannies, landscapers, dog walkers, housekeeper, contractors, and building managers”? Someone who also can “manage dog systems (potty breaks, food, day care, dog walkers, vet appts)” and “liaise with external high-end travel vendors to coordinate domestic and international travel arrangements”?
After Artnet and the New York Times reported on internet outrage over the posting, I checked out the job description saved online by art writer and blogger Emily Colucci and thought, “What’s everyone freaking out about?” Isn’t the posting what every high-level Hollywood assistant basically does? Is the problem that this Art World Family was crass enough to spell out the humiliation of the job in granular detail? Or that the art world is supposed to be more refined than Hollywood and less prone to torturing its underclass?
As a working artist myself (aspiring novelist, here!), I thought maybe I should give the job a shot. After all the negative attention, the Art World Family in question had to pull its ad, so it’s possible I’d score the gig. I gotta admit: It sounded like a lot, especially managing “dog systems” and picking up clothing at the “high-end” stores. If my No. 1 priority was to “make life easier for the couple in every way possible,” I would need my own assistant to help manage my own life.
Channeling the spirit of Art World Family, I’ve crafted my own post for help. I hope I get a bite soon. If you’re reading this, maybe it’s you?
Organization: Another Art World Family
Location: Los Angeles
Sector: Arts, Administration, Other
Position Type: Full-Time Permanent
Description: Low-profile Art World Family is seeking a full-time Executive/Personal Assistant who is attentive to details, skilled in communication and professional. Discretion is essential: Do not make fun of our home on TikTok! Must be able to juggle multiple priorities in a chaotic, wildly unstructured environment and to change course at a moment’s notice. (When the toddler says she has to pee, she means it.) The candidate must be dedicated to a single-minded goal: Make life slightly less Dickensian for us in every way possible.
• Manage all travel bookings and itineraries. Familiarity with value-priced Airbnbs is a must, as is the ability to write thoughtful, yet sufficiently scolding letters about broken cooling systems and leaky toilets in aforementioned value-priced rentals.
• Liaise with Budget Rent a Car. There is a manager at the Burbank airport office named Brian with whom we are on good terms. Negotiate rental discounts and don’t fall for those crafty pay-first gas deals. It’s impossible to bring the car back with an empty tank.
• Provide support to family and in-laws during both domestic and international air travel, and assume the seats will be in coach. Note that Dad does not like long flights because his sciatica acts up, and Mom needs those plastic-wrapped travel slippers and an eye mask — reversible flannel, with a spritz of lilac spray from Bath & Body Works.
• Make restaurant reservations and RSVP to events. We like that floating sushi boat restaurant on Colorado Boulevard, but the kids always want Happy Meals, which is fine. But never get them soda, only milk — sometimes it can be chocolate. Use your discretion.
• Coordinate and confirm personal appointments. Our yoga class attendance can be hit-and-miss. If we miss morning class, prepare for late-afternoon regret.
I thought the purse my husband gave me was lovely but too small. Then I saw that was the point: With my kids grown, it’s time to let the big mom-bag go.
• Prepare family members for whatever they may need to do in advance. Usually that’s going pee for the kids and coffee for the adults.
• Send regular schedule rundowns and reminders. We will never remember that we volunteered to hang balloons at the school’s family dance.
• Serve as the central point of communication to household staff. For our Art World Family, this means my husband, me and — well, I guess that’s it, just my husband and me.
• Manage cleaning, repairs and guest stays. The vacuum is missing the right wheel, and the dishwasher will leak if the rubber strip on the door isn’t secured. We use my husband’s deceased grandfather’s lint brush to get the cat hair off the furniture. Guest accommodations are in the 14-year-old’s bedroom — so if my parents come to stay, take down the Guns N’ Roses poster, and swap out the black curtains for the sunflower ones in the hallway closet.
• Manage cat systems. The litter box is in the 5-by-4 spare bathroom, wedged in between the toilet and the wall, so it can be pretty hard to get to. The cans of Friskies are in the pantry; we use the clear plastic fork in the dish drainer as the food scooper. We wash the cat ourselves once a month, but bonus points if you can trim her claws!
• Garden maintenance. Water daily. If you see the cat pooping in the garden, give her a quick squirt with the hose.
• Run home-related errands. Some Art World Families ask their assistants to handle “dry cleaning, dropoff/pickup clothing from high-end stores, purchase gifts, grocery shopping, FedEx dropoffs/pickups, delivering gifts to friends’ residences.” We will not expect the same, but if you have time to dropoff the old baby clothes at Salvation Army and pickup from H&M and Target, we have a Girl Scout cookie bonus for you!
• Sometimes play with the kids? It’s more of a polite ask than a requirement, but we don’t have a nanny so the kids might wander around the house after you asking if you’ll do something fun with them: Legos, Play-Doh and sometimes a game called, “Queens and Servants,” where they are the queens.
• Manage online subscriptions: HBO Max, Peacock, Paramount+, Hulu and sometimes PBS Kids. But when the toddler finishes a binge of the new show, be sure to cancel that one because all those subscriptions can really add up.
• Manage IT needs (two iPhone 6s, cracked iPad, 2016 MacBook Air)
• Organize closet systems. My husband’s pants keep getting mixed in with mine because they share a single shelf at the back of the closet.
• Maintain guest lists for openings and events. Just kidding! We aren’t there yet.
• Draft thank-you notes when needed — usually after Christmas and birthdays. It’s not OK to write, “Thanks for the gift card.” You’ll need to specify what the gift card was used for, i.e. Roblox or a Baby Alive that wets its diaper.
• Create presentations and PowerPoint decks for work and personal projects. I’m thinking dream boards or Pinterest posts featuring our creative goals. “Finish that novel by 2040!” for example, or “Get out of bed, it’s a start!”
• Make in-person and online purchases. Ralphs always has that mega-block of cheddar cheese on sale for $8.99. The kids can eat grilled cheese for days.
• Must be comfortable with children. The toddler can talk a blue streak and likes an audience.
• Must have a valid driver’s license and be comfortable driving all over Los Angeles and surrounding areas, which is a lot. Sometimes you’ll be driving all day and you’ll wonder what has gone wrong with your life. Don’t worry! That’s natural.
• Knowledge of the worlds of art and literature is a plus! Knowing fashion, not so much. We don’t want you to make us feel bad.
• Save that MFA in creative writing for the cutthroat world of New York publishing! We just need someone who can tolerate that weird high-pitched squeaking sound the ice machine sometimes makes. And proficiency in surviving children is a must.
• We hear it’s common for Art World Families to subject final candidates to an extensive background check, and that the signing of a nondisclosure agreement is essential upon hire. We’ll just Google you and ask for the phone number of your last employer to make sure you’re not a serial killer. We also might check to see if you are capable of sitting through an entire episode of “Captain Underpants” to prove your psychological fortitude.
How to Apply:
Please submit a cover letter, resume and list of three references (one can be your mom!). Also, please tell us what your favorite food is so we can stock the fridge. Finally, do you Wordle? We have a vicious competition going with my parents, so any help winning would be great!
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