Archive for March 2005

Desire Through A Green Eye-Shade

Okay, so here’s what’s turning out to be the most gratifying purchase from my shopping spree last week:

An accountant, like other laborers, develops an affinity for his tools, and for the accountant, at least the accountant of the mid-20th century, the one indispensable tool was the 10-key adding machine.  The firm that hired me out of college could not justify putting us out in the field until we had spent a month or so becoming adept at running a 10-key by touch.  There were days when we were assigned to sit with a phone book and run through columns of telephone numbers for practice. (I always questioned the efficacy of this drill, as I’ve yet to find a hash total in the phone book against which to check one’s accuracy).

In this profession, you get to really appreciate the feel of a nicely-designed keypad, and I used to gravitate towards certain brands or models when plunked down in an office without my own machine.

These days, the laptop is the primary tool of the itinerant accountant, for obvious reasons.  Sheafs of workpapers that we used to lug in Samsonite-sized leather cases are now stored on laptop hard disks and transmitted to the home office each night for safekeeping.  However, as one regards the admirable economy of the laptop keyboard, only the accountant may grieve the absence of that luxury of the desktop keyboard, the 10-key pad.  The laptop keyboard tries to fake one on the right side, where close inspection reveals the faint outline of numbers accessible by using the function key.  However, these keys are skewed and oddly placed, and no self-respecting (and technologically challenged) accountant would put himself through the heartache of actually learning how they work.  (I believe I tried it once, and then couldn’t get the keyboard switched back to its normal alphabetic function).

Imagine, then, my almost erotic delight upon seeing the item pictured below:

A picture named TenKey.jpg


Even encased in its blister-pack, my twitching fingers could tell how it would feel, and longed to fit it to the end of my hand like a prosthesis.

Reader, I bought it, and slipped it lubriciously into my USB port, and we’ve been together ever since.


I started my accounting career as an auditor.  As a “junior” on a crew, I would have to scurry around our clients’ office bugging the crap out of people who had better things to do than provide a business education to a clueless dork who nonetheless felt that his newly minted college degree conferred an exalted status. 

We would arrive on a job, meet everyone, and give special strokes to the CFO or Controller, who was often an alumnus (escapee) of our firm.  As we worked, we would still stroke the CFO and take him to lunch (in those days, it was ALWAYS a “him”), but it usually became apparent in our quest for real information that the only reliable source was a “Louise” or “Madge”, a superannuated crone who occupied the least desirable real estate in the office, and we would tiptoe past the CFO’s office and besiege her hungrily.

At the end of the job, the bigwigs from our firm would come out and parlez with the CFO and obtain signoff for our work, we’d all shake hands and thank each other and be off to the next stop in the audit gulag.

Well, this week I’ve been the CFO-for-hire at my client’s during their audit, as their controller has had a sort of meltdown and is on extended “leave”.  And, despite my desperate attempts to please, I can’t help noticing the auditors busily plying Linda and Alena just outside my door.  I can’t say that I blame them, cuz if they came to me, I’d probably put them off and then sneak out and get the answers from Linda and Alena anyway.  However, they have yet to buy me lunch.


Off to a shaky start with these auditors.  I was just reading a schedule and mistook “Promissory Note” for “Promiscuity Note”.  And, no, I’m not working for Boeing.

He Lives

Well, it’s taken me a while to beat my way past that wall.  Work’s been killing me, and maybe a little touch of depression and world-weariness.  I’ve really felt for the last couple of months that every second I have has a second and maybe third mortgage on it, and I’m playing a little shell game in doling them out.  I’d be the Enron of time, running a little Ponzi scheme to make people think there are three of me, but I forgot the most important thing about the Enron formula - kill them with my rates.  Oops.

One night last week, though, I got loose.  It didn’t start out as shopping therapy.  Mrs. Perils’ cell phone was starting to act up and, after I determined that she was eligible for an “upgrade” (wherein you voluntarily open your bank account to Verizon for two more years in exchange for a “free” phone upgrade that somehow ends up costing $200), I headed up to Northgate after work to make the deal.

While there, I decided that I should step over to Macy’s (the former Bon Marche and future Federated) to buy a new pair of jeans.  On my last couple of plane trips, I’d become a little self-conscious about sitting in the first class cabin in jeans fashionably ripped just above the knees.  “Fashionable” if one is twenty-something and the patch of thigh peeking through is an enticement rather than a harbinger of decay.  Far from therapy, this exercise reinforced my depression, as the reason the old jeans had deteriorated so was that I was fastidiously avoiding clothes shopping until I’d lost a little weight.  Instead, I’ve ballooned to 157 when I should be under 145.  Bracketed by this pincer of dueling shames, I sucked it up and found a pair of jeans I could squeeze into, and promised them I’d reward their heroic efforts in the near term by honing myself to meet and exceed their engineering specs as spring approaches.

I don’t get out shopping much, but once I get loose in a mall, a bender might be in the offing.  And there’s nothing to throw gasoline on this fire better than the proximity of a Best Buy store.  The distinctive yellow sign beckoned me like a shimmering lemon jello shooter, and I was in the door.  I had a couple of vague notions about things I wanted, and headed in the direction of the computer department.  When I came to in the checkout line, I realized I had just signed a credit card slip for:

  • 2004 Turbo Tax for Business
  • 2004 Turbo Tax for Individuals
  • 100 burnable cds
  • a Sound Blaster Audigy 2 PS for may laptop, whose onboard sound card has had a persistent stutter which dissuades me from watching movies, playing sound files or streaming KEXP when I’m out of town
  • a sweet little number keypad I can plug into my laptop, the one item, out of all the others, I’ll write about later

I guess there’s nothing HORRIBLY frivolous in that list, but one wonders, as one does after too many vodkas and the room is spinning, whether that fact (no harm done) is just a happy accident.  Could there just as easily have been a plasma TV on the list? 

Visiting my mother this weekend in Toledo, off to Milwaukee next week to tend to the care and feeding of auditors from Grant Thornton.  Back in the blogging game, though - watch this space.