I get by with a little help from my friends
I’m positively giddy . . . school girl giddy. Guess why? No, Paula isn’t returning to American Idol (I wish!). And nope, Kate and Jon haven’t reconciled. But, almost as exciting . . . I’ve hired an accountant!
Okay, so you may not get that funny tickle in your tummy or need to use the restroom, but this is a special milestone for me and our blossoming company, Windy City Publishers.
Surprisingly enough, I have convinced, yet, another friend to join our little family. Doris and I go back, way back, to my first few years in Chicago. We bonded when, as senior accountants for a troubled hotel company, we single-handily saved them from financial ruin (at least that’s how I remembered it).
Doris is a no-nonsense gal who actually enjoys accounting and is proficient at it. She’s no drama queen, keeps her nose to the grindstone and stays out of trouble (or she’s just really good at not getting caught). Just like me. Maybe that’s why we get along so well.
I had been telling Dawn and Kristyn that I had become too busy to work the numbers, but in reality it was literally (figuratively?) boring me to death and squelching my creative instinct. Not to mention, I have a small bald spot on the side of my head where I have pulled out the hairs – one by one – while looking at long columns of numbers.
Dawn and Kristyn initially looked skeptical when I mentioned Doris could “cook our books” (this is my own phrase that comes from a combination of my catering and accounting background. It has nothing to do with illegal or unethical activity).
But, the good news is that I am an excellent sales person. “We” decided that WCP needed a professional and they jumped on board quickly because, apparently, it is important to them that our bills and employees get paid on time.
When Doris first arrived at our Global World Wide International Offices in Palatine, Illinois, I welcomed her with a warm hug and a raspberry martini.
“It’s 9:00 in the morning,” she said, not blinking (FYI – you can always tell a real accountant by their steely stare, their passion for butterscotch and their penchant for Lou Reed).
“Is it?” I winced as I dumped the drink down the drain. “I hadn’t noticed.”
“We should get to work.” She carefully arranged her coat then pulled out a portable adding machine. “Where should I set up?”
“Right this way, ma’am.” I said saluting her. This was going to be just like old times – Doris working the numbers and me, supervising and keeping it real.
I showed Doris the books and, while she looked at the numbers, I filed one nail to a sharp point. Idea – no need for toothpicks, hmmm. “Look, Doris, built-in tooth cleaner.”
She looked up.
“Impressive.” She put her head down but quickly looked up again. “Have you paid Craig this year?”
“I give her lunch.”
“What’s this?” Doris pointed to a line item labeled “Swiss Bank Account.”
“Hmmm, that’s weird.” I scratched my chin. “That should be our savings account. Kristyn probably did that. Sometimes when she gets bored she gets into the system and messes with it.”
“What about this expense? ‘Dale’s Escort Service and Spa’? For $850?”
“Oh, yeah . . . that’s personal. That’s a mistake, an honest mistake.” I poked my sharp nail into a pencil and then balanced it perfectly on an upright finger. “Hey, can you do this?”
Doris peered over her glasses at my finger. I thought I saw a glimpse of envy in her steely stare.
“What about this, ‘Money owed to @#$%^&*’.”
“Ah. That’s money I owe Dawn. I just blanked on how to spell her name.”
“Have you begun to do your 1099’s?” Doris was like a machine, typing furiously and moving the mouse like no one’s business.
“Your 1099’s? It’s what you need to give to your employees by January 31st. Next week?”
“I’m working on it, but . . . “ I sighed a long sigh as I drilled my nails on the desk. “I think I have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Can you fill them out?”
“I’m assuming you have the forms?”
“You have assumed incorrectly. I do not.”
“Well, it’s too late to get them from the IRS for free – they’ll never get here in time. You’ll have to buy them.” She clicked away. “You can get them at Office Max. $25.00. Next year, order them in advance and you can get them free.”
“No biggie. We have plenty of money. Look at our bank account.”
She clicked away again. “You haven’t balanced your checkbook in three months. You have $38.67 in your account.”
“That does not sound good.” I pulled out another hair from my bald spot. “I’ll just go out back to the money tree,” I joked half-heartedly.
Doris clicked and typed and a few minutes later she announced she had done all she could do. She promised to return and, as collateral, I held her birth certificate until she did so. I walked her to the door and thanked her profusely.
“I don’t know how I have gotten along without you, Doris.” I patted her on the back as I handed her a plate of leftover enchiladas and a butterscotch candy. “Thanks, I appreciate your hard work.
She had tears in her eyes as she took the gifts. “No problem.”
She walked out the door but, just before I closed it, turned and said. “Hey, if that idea for the tooth-cleaner ever pans out . . .”
“Sure, Doris,” I replied. “You’re in for a cut.”
It’s not easy being an idea person.