Monday, March 15, 2010

Accounting emergency

In Alex’s most recent post, he mentioned that although he doesn’t want to be a doctor, he would, just once, like to experience the thrill of standing up and walking down the aisle when the flight attendant calls out “is there a doctor on board?” But since they never call out “is there a salesman on board?*” he’s heretofore gone without this great honor.

*If they did call out “is there a salesman on board?” half the plane would stand up, so I’m not sure it would be quite so exciting being one of 187 salespeople versus being the one doctor among 374 non-physician passengers.

And while being the passenger of honor on airplanes would be cool, there’s a lot about being a doctor that would suck. Like being on call. Seriously, how annoying to be out on a date with your wife only to get a phone call in the middle to listen to a patient complain about an ingrown toenail?

Actually, I can tell you just how much that would suck. But not because I’m a doctor. A couple years ago, back when I still worked for the huge company, I was on a date with my wife when my cell phone rang. It was my finance manager. I’d spent the entire days in conference calls trying to wrap up the quarter end close, and I thought we had it all taken care of. Evidently we did not. And they just needed me to answer a question at 8:00 p.m. on a Friday.

Our date was interrupted for an accounting emergency. Guess what—there’s no such thing as an accounting emergency. There are medical emergencies. There are environmental emergencies. I’ll even grant that there are property emergencies. In rare cases, there may even be sales emergencies. But if it has anything to do with accounting, it’s not an emergency.

The quarter end close is telling you what already happened. It’s not going to change anything from happening. There’s no way to mitigate a bad thing that’s happened through accounting, at least not legally. So how can it be an emergency?

Not only that, but why call me about it? I’m not even the accountant! My finance manager calling me for an accounting emergency is like an obstetrician running from the delivery room to the lobby and saying “is there a product manager present? Because this baby’s breach, and I could really use your expertise with the delivery.”


  1. My father is a CPA and my wife is an accountant. Believe me when I say this. There are Accounting emergencies. Most of which involve Susan auditing my spending and me looking for a way out, any way out.

  2. I'm disappointed to read that this post isn't about some problem you have with your tax return. Then I'd magically pull out an answer from you-know-where (

    You wanna talk working emergencies? Software is full of them. And the high-level powers in all software companies feel as if they are saving lives with their software - even if it is only e-mail and not the software used in pacemakers. And then there was that whole Y2K farce... had to spend a year preparing for an emergency we knew wasn't going to happen.

  3. I love it. Half the plane standing up when asking for a salesman on board reminded me of the "Major Asshole" clip from Spaceballs.

    Being an accountant myself, I'm used to being considered the necessary evil and I can understand why. I'm just glad I ditched the idea of being a dentist. I can't imagine having to fish around in random mouths all day.

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  6. "Ladies and gentlemen, don't be alarmed but the Captain is having trouble flying the airplane because he couldn't reconcile his checkbook. He's quite distraught. Is there an accountant onboard?"

    It's a nice dream.

    Hey, a servant of the most high is inviting you to a different kind of reconciliation. Isn't that nice.

  7. Getting a call on a date about a toenail is nothing. Anything that can be handled on the phone is nothing

    Getting a call at 2330 that means you will be up until 0400 is what really sucks.

    Call is unexplainable unless you have experienced it, 2 times a week for a decade or so.

  8. I'm with Enel... being able to take care of calls on the phone are the best. Going in in the middle of the night sucks. Going in in the middle of the night, when it could have waited till the morning really really sucks.

    But it's part of the job.

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