|Occupation||Post Office Office Manager|
|Physical appearance||Spinster Schoolteacher|
|Children||At least one daughter|
|Marital Status||married (maiden name retained for professional reasons).|
|Books||Going Postal, Making Money, The Compleat Ankh-Morpork|
She is the ferocious office manager at the Post Office, ruling Post Office counters with a rod compared to which iron would be as sugar candy. All members of Post Office Staff from the Postmaster downwards live in dread of her censure, except perhaps Stanley Howler, for whom she may have a maternally protective streak.
She reminds Moist of one of his primary school teachers. The one you get in Year/Grade Two, after you have been lulled into a false sense of security by the sweet old spinster, in his case Frau Tissel, who runs the reception class (What might, for American readers, possibly be compared to kindergarten?) who never raises her voice, lets you play with the plasticene, indulges you, cleans up those little accidents that happen, and sneaks in some sound teaching on the sly so that you don't know education is happening.
Then, suddenly, expecting more of the same the following September, the Second Grade happens and your teacher is a slightly embittered child-hating old witch called Frau Shambers, who glares in disapproval and shouts at you and makes you sit up straight and tells you this is where school really begins. She is severely dressed and does her hair up in that horribly-remembered Überwaldean manner called schnecken, where the hair is meticulously coiled up into a shape resembling a snail sitting on guard over each ear. You soon realise, if you are a six-year-old Moist von Lipwig, that no good can come of this, and the memory, of being expelled from the warm Eden of the kindergarten to the cold hard wooden benches of Education, will sit with you for life.
Thus, you are putty in her hands when she appears at the Post Office in the Maccalariat uniform of sensible shoes, thick black hairy stockings, the baggy cardigan, the severe glasses, and "the expression like an early frost", demanding her proper vocation, which is to terrify the living daylights out of anyone seeking to steal the stationery, the pens, or the ink.
In appearance the Receptionist From Hell, she is terrifyingly efficient at her job, and has her spiritual sisters the Multiverse over. There is the doctor's receptionist seeking to safeguard her employer from the inconvenience of actually having to see any patients (and certainly not YOU, you horrible NHS-resource-consuming malingerer). Then there's the desk receptionist at any large corporation who is more implacable an opponent to your getting into the building, or seeing the person you wish to see, than the whole of the security force combined. One of her more subtle weapons, on a par with Vetinari's waiting-room clock, is the slightly soiled hanky she keeps up her sleeve, and which she will bring out at the right strategic moment to derail your train of thought.
She will demand that the proprieties be respected to the last dotted "i" and crossed "t", and will, for instance, demand that the golem tasked with cleaning the Ladies' lavatories (and they must be acceptably, ie impeccably, clean) be recognisably of the female gender herself. As the issue of golem gender has never been raised before, least of all by the golems themselves, this gives rise to the social experiment called Gladys, who is, in her impeccable gingham dress and in the new attitudes inculcated in her by the Post Office girls, more than acceptably female. (Ankh-Morpork ladies know street theatre when they see it and collude to completely feminize their golem workmate, with interesting consequences).
As Dilbert-creator Scott Adams describes in cartoon and in prose, she is the embodiment of the Doorway Demon, who must be placated to gain entry into the Office-Perilous. Had the Octavo had a Maccalariat guarding it and not its mere panoply of Dread Demon, Sigils and Seal of Eightfold Stasis, that rogue spell would never have dared try to get into Rincewind's head, and the subsequent history of the Discworld would have been different. In fact, the dreaded Gatekeeper Demon built into the lectern would have recognised it was outclassed, and handed in its notice, prior to returning to the cthonic Hell from whence it was summoned.
All Maccalariats are "Miss", even the ones with husbands (choked gasp) and children (you mean...as in plural of child?).
The sole example encountered so far in the novels is Miss Iodine Maccalariat at the Ankh-Morpork Post Office, although what is the possibility of her having sisters, or daughters even, called Fluorine, Chlorine, Bromine and Astatine?
The Ankh-Morpork Post Office Handbook 2007 lists a Heroine of the Post Office called Miss Honoria Maccalariat, by context an ancestor. An interesting side-note honours a Miss Amelie Willet, who whilst not having the family name appears in attitude and demeanour to be a Maccalariat in all but name. In fact, the wider Willet family appear to have all the sterling personal qualities to be noted and avoided in the Maccalariats, and the casual observer could speculate on a family association.
The name Maccalariat may borrow from the French baccalauréat (or its later European and International versions).