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#34 Saying the Opposite

liarliarIt is well known that accountants like to express the opposite of what they truly mean.

For example, “You’re working on deferred revenue this quarter” is met with:

“Awesome, that is going to be so much fun.”

As much “fun” as working on an under-budgeted area and eating hours is, it actually is not fun. The same goes for dealing with certain people in the office who have become an accountant’s “favorite” person.

So you can see how this works. It’s all a game of delusion for accountants to hate their work less. Making the 8AM meeting a “kickoff and brainstorming session” sounds better than a “teleconference where everything is the same as last year.”

Accountants can be incredibly sarcastic and biting with their remarks. You’ve never known true hatred of one’s job until you’ve hung out with an accountant after work.

If you’re dealing with an accountant who tells you that they are going to have a great day working with others, you should already know that this is code for “another horrible day working with utterly incompetent people.” You should be worried however when an accountant tells you that their day is going to be bad. When an accountant is going through enough crap that they won’t bother to disguise the truth, you should watch out.

Here are just a few more phrases that should immediately tip you off:

  • Looking forward to it
  • It’ll be like vacation
  • It’s practically done
  • Thank you

ctrl_cut_copy_pasteAn accountant doesn’t have to be creative to get the job done. Sure, being creative and expertly documenting (read: rationalizing errors) helps. In reality, an accountant doesn’t even need to know accounting principles to get their job done. Being able to copy and paste procedures, make tickmarks, and put documentation (header, workpaper reference, purpose, etc) is all that’s required.

With a softcopy of prior period work, an accountant can get anything done. A little copy and paste action here from last year, add some rollforwards of dates, update the names and an accountant is ready to bluff their way out of their next assignment. A common mistake accountants have to be careful of making is putting the wrong company name. When an accountant works on multiple companies, all their documents tend to look alike – because they are the same.

If an accountant is not copying and pasting procedures, you will find them trimming procedures. Why? Because the budget has gotten smaller (see: eating hours).

An accountant armed with copy, cut, paste, find, and replace is an efficient accounting machine. Work will get done, deadlines may be met, and the quality-level will be enough to pass on further inspection.

If you find a keyboard with worn out CTRL, C, and V keys, you will know that it belongs to an accountant. (If you thought of the command key, that would be incorrect.)

#32 Roller Bags

rollerbagDespite being at home on an airport conveyor belt, accountants have felt the need to adopt the roller bag as one of their own. Roller bags and other fugly equipment (such as fax machines) have become mainstays in the office.

A roller bag, pictured here, is the Frankenstein of office companions. It is part laptop case, part airline traveler, and always awkward. Is the accountant using one really trying to get work done? Or are they trying too hard to lug around work that they need expandable zipper compartments?

For men, a traditional, conservative leather portfolio case would suffice. For women, they have an infinite number of options that doesn’t involve this fashion faux-pas.

A roller bag tells the world that an accountant likes to take around their office – workpapers, binders, and manuals with them – everywhere, all the time. This uncompromising attitude is impressive until you realize that the only thing the accountant has is a good workout. Most of the things in there are simply for reference and unnecessary.

Does any of this seem confusing for accountants? Below is a simple test to determine if what they are using to store their laptop and documents is the fashion equivalent of wearing Crocs.

  1. Does it have wheels?
  2. Does it have an retractable handle?

Any ‘Yes’ answers should result in a punishment of having to carry around the laptop, charger, and binders by hand for a week.

Accountants are already overworked, underpaid, and socially-inept creatures. Whoever started this trend of needing to cart around junk on wheels needs to do a rotation into governmental accounting.

#31 Delegating Tasks

905626_fingerAccountants are experts at delegating.

Don’t believe that? Just try to get an accountant to do something and you’ll soon see it delegated to no less than two people.

Accountants get their first taste of delegation early on in their careers. It starts out as getting one binder from next door. Before you know it, an accountant is delegating away all their areas to unfortunate slaves people. The amazing part is how an accountant will spend more time explaining the delegated task than it takes to complete it.

Delegation is an important part of maintaining work life balance for senior accountants. Delegation allows them to golf, travel, or shop while the people below them are forced to compensate by working more unpaid overtime.

When you talk to an accountant, they will acknowledge everything and assure you that they will take care of it. Moments later, the accountant is “working offsite” while their staff is trying to figure out what kind of crap was passed onto them.

Delegating tasks has a lot in common with throwing people under the bus. Both suck and help form the foundation of the accounting profession.

Although delegation sounds horrible, it makes sense in that a manager should not be making photocopies at their charge rates. However, delegation is, in reality, used to avoid doing any work at all. This way if things work out, an accountant can take the credit. If things blow up, it’s time to throw people under the bus. Rinse and repeat.

#30 Dating Coworkers

holding hands

Let’s just say there is no shortage of intercompany transactions. Enough said.

672784_three_hole_puncherAccountants are anal retentive, because if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be accountants. This anal retentive nature shows up in everything they do, including: placing post-it flags, mailing confirmations, taking coffee orders, copying tickmark legends, updating the pending list, photocopying binders, binder clipping packets, parking in the same spot, footing figures, tying workpaper references, stapling workpapers, writing memos, giving comments, verifying excel formulas, charging time, going to lunch on time, making binder tabs, talking about people behind their back, creating the table of contents, claiming mileage, ordering office supplies, organizing their workspace, and hole punching documents.

Paying attention to detail is one of an accountant’s best skills, because kissing ass only gets them so far.

For a normal person, punching holes is a boring chore. The hole puncher frequently jams and can take more time to unjam than the photocopier. Even when it’s not jammed, the hole puncher can only fit 5 pages at a time, and it makes people hate the world.

For an accountant, hole punching is serious business. Holes must be punched in the same location – the EXACT same location – for each page in the binder. Failing this, the pages will be impossible to place neatly in the binder. This is an accountant’s nightmare – yes they have nightmares for things that normal people could care less about.

Hole punching is so serious that accountants have even staged hole punching competitions. The winner of said competition can get a lame gift bearing their company’s logo.

Some accountants go so far as to require each person to use the exact same hole puncher for everything. The thinking here is that by using the same hole puncher day in and day out, the holes will always be punched in the same place. Although this doesn’t accomplish anything, accountants go out of their way to enforce trivial tasks.

If you see an accountant planning out their hole punching strategy, don’t laugh. This is considered extremely rude. However, you can tell them that you’ve been recently having trouble punching holes in the same place each time. This will improve your relationship with the accountant. Another thing you should not do under any circumstance is tell them that hole punching is pointless and going paperless is the future.

#28 Free Parking

726216_fence_Accountants make a decent living and can afford to spend $3 at Starbucks every day of the year. However, when asked to pay for parking, you’d think their materiality threshold just split in half. Since accountants hate paying for parking, it stands to reason that they love free parking.

Free parking is a big deal. In addition to free parking, where an accountant parks is important. Under ideal circumstances, an accountant would park their new car in a corner spot where nobody would be able to hit them. Accountants are known to park far away from the building’s entrance in order to avoid the nightmare of other people parking next to them.

An accountant is among the first to arrive in the parking lot. Amazingly enough, they are also the last to leave. If you ever pass by an accounting firm’s office during the weekend, don’t be surprised to find many of the spots taken.

Free parking comes in many forms – by the coffee shop, the restaurant, or the office. When available, free parking is an amazing luxury. If you ever need to convince an accountant to drive you somewhere, telling them that there is free parking will allow you to seal the deal.

sodaFree beverages are just the tip of the iceberg. Try health-conscious snacks, gourmet meals, and espresso machines – all for free. Any office has pens and staplers, but does your office have a nickel vending machine? Every office has a break room, but does your office have a nap room?

Accountants are experts at abusing office perks. Even if something is not for taking, chances are an accountant has already helped themselves to it.

A good example of perk abuse is training. Locked into training rooms all day, accountants binge on coffee, mineral water, and themed snacks to help them put on more weight, err, to help them concentrate. Accountants will sneak water bottles, lunch sandwiches, and hotel pens into their room. They don’t really need any of these things, but it allows them to save up Per Diem. While training is not technically an office perk, accountants abuse it nonetheless.

Office perks (of the food variety) are important in an accountant’s career. It allows an accountant to get a head start on gaining and keeping weight while on the job. Accountants live in front of their laptops eating company meals. Combined with no exercise (moving binders doesn’t count no matter what an accountant says), the weight gain is inevitable.

Feel free to post your favorite office perks. Anything from a free Starbucks in the building to a dusty coffee pot that nobody ever uses.

#26 Privacy Screen

1011137872When an accountant receives their laptop, there is a whole set of rituals to follow.

  1. First, they receive the manufacturer’s manual (never to be read) and the company laptop bag (bulky enough to stop bullets).
  2. Then without fail, accountants put an order to their IT department for an extra power cord, a privacy screen, and an USB keypad.
  3. Accountants going above and beyond might even order a laptop dock, an additional monitor, a wireless keyboard, and so on in order to properly intimidate the interns.

The point of this post is the privacy screen. Accountants rely on this crucial piece of technology to protect their secrets. Secrets here doesn’t refer to confidential company information as you would imagine, but it in fact refers to the fact that they are secretly sending instant messages, checking sports updates, and poking friends on facebook.

You may wonder why large, multi-national companies would spend so much money to provide laptops, technical training, and office space just so an accountant can stream youtube videos on a computer that is heavily monitored by tracking software and hide behind a privacy screen. The simple answer is that accountants need to look busy to their peers so they can maintain ridiculous charge rates. After spending the morning getting coffee and the afternoon recovering from lunch by surfing the web, accountants are forced to put in extra hours to stay on top of their work.

The privacy screen is important to an accountant – not for what it is supposed to do – but because it allows accountants to procrastinate all day long and then spend the evening working unpaid overtime and complaining.

#25 Lunchtime

988405_club_sandwich_4Accountants look forward to lunchtime. Lunchtime, where an accountant sits at their desk eating while working, doesn’t count. For accountants, eating lunch is an officially sanctioned measurement of time. Things happen before lunch or after lunch. That is until you get to working past midnight.

Picking where to eat lunch is also a VERY big deal. Accountants can spend 1/2 of the time for lunch debating where to go. This is especially tricky with large groups of accountants or indecisive people.

Accountants are not productive without lunch, so the hours between 10AM and noon are spent bouncing possible places to go for lunch off of one another.

Perennial lunch favorites include the sandwich place, another sandwich place, or anything nearby. Even though an accountant can spend a whole hour being unproductive planning where to go for lunch, it is important that lunch not take up too much time. This is where “something good nearby” comes into play as a lunch choice.

If you are eating lunch with an accountant, it is safe to suggest a good sandwich place. Otherwise, you may run into the secret veto power accountants hold. If an accountant doesn’t like the place for any number of subjective reasons, they reserve the right to veto your suggestion and ask you to pick another place.

A popular morning ritual goes:

“Well, you can pick lunch today.”

“Hmm, well I don’t really have any preference.”

“It’s your turn to pick, so choose something good. Also, make sure it’s quick.”

“Alright, well we had sandwiches yesterday, so how about sushi today?”

“No, you can pick anything, but just don’t choose that.”

And so this goes on until a nearby sandwich place is inevitably selected. Who ever said accountants weren’t creative or particularly inspiring obviously didn’t know what they were talking about.

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