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Monday, August 20, 2001

It was payback day. All of the slacking off I've done in not keeping the office organized has come back to nip me in the ankle. I spent most of today the same way I'll spend most of the week: trying to dig myself out of this hole. I have to have the place at least looking respectable by Friday, when I have an insurance auditor coming to see me.

It's just as important that I should be able to find things a little more quickly than I did this morning. The Boss phoned looking for a letter we'd written last week. He wanted me to find it while he was holding the line, and I had to mumble and make excuses for why it was taking so long. It was taking so long because I had no idea where I'd put it. It definitely wasn't in the file it should have been in, but that hardly mattered since the file wasn't where it should have been, either.

We're so busy these days, with so many new jobs starting, that I can't afford to use the old I-know-it's-here-somewhere filing system. The Boss is a fiend for filing, and he thinks I am, too, since I've always been able to find what he wants. But as the business grows, I won't be able to slide by like that for much longer. I have a lot more to keep track of, and my memory isn't what it used to be.

The audit itself doesn't frighten me. Much. I got the notice just last week that the auditor would be knocking on my door on Friday the 24th, and by the way, just where was my door?

He wanted sales and receipts records, plus certain worksheets which I don't bother to keep because they don't make sense for the Company. Since we don't pay sales tax monthly, I don't have monthly sales tax records. What he gets to look at instead is the monthly disbursement record, on which I record taxable amounts, taxes paid, and taxes due.

At the end of each quarter I turn this into a sales tax return that doesn't exactly conform to the printed instructions. I leave a lot of boxes on the form blank, because (a) I don't know what they mean, or (b) they don't mean anything. As a construction firm we don't use our resale license the way a retail firm does.

So I have a system that allows me to fill in some of the blanks, and at the same time make sure we're paying what we owe. As easy as it would be to cheat, I don't. I go over every invoice I pay to make sure the proper taxes are paid, either at the time or later on. We've had a sales tax audit, and I fully satisfied that auditor. (She's welcome back any time, by the way.)

I'm not sure what this insurance auditor expects to look at, but I've been through many of these ordeals with an auditor who doesn't even know what he's there for. He's hired by the insurance company to track down information which may or may not actually exist. The key is to dazzle him with more numbers than he asks for. I'll throw as many figures at this guy as I can come up with, all presented in an indexed three-ring binder prepared especially for his entertainment.

Frankly, I'm more concerned about what he thinks of my house. I'll be spending company time this week getting all the loose papers filed (somewhere), and getting the dust and dirt swept away (or under something). He probably won't want to use the bathroom, but just in case I'll swab out the toilet and mop the floor. It's due anyway.

I wonder if he'll take a look at the high weeds and declare my house an uninsurable fire hazard. I wonder if he'll walk on the flagstones, trip over a gopher mound, and cancel our policy. I wonder if one of my recurring power surges will fry his laptop. I kind of hope not.


At first I thought these were buzzards circling over my house today, because there were so many of them. But upon closer inspection (and upon hearing them scream), I discovered they were red-shouldered hawks. You can almost see them here.

Anyway, this is my week for pretending to be an efficient office manager. Usually pretending is enough, but when I throw in a little "work" with the performance, a sort of efficiency will often materialize on its own. Just having the dining table (where the auditor will be sitting) cleared of clutter will help. And I can throw many things into the bedroom and close the door on them. That should be the last resort, instead of the first line of pretense. Oh well.

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