But why, I hear you ask, don't we have a computer program to print out these forms? And I reply that we don't use any commercial accounting software, for the simple reason that the Boss doesn't trust it to produce reports and statements in exactly the format he wants, with precisely the information in the same order he did it all in by hand thirty years ago.
So I took his old handwritten spreadsheets and duplicated them in Excel, and we've been building on that base ever since. If nothing else, this keeps me from worrying about losing my job.
I designed all the internal accounting from scratch, using formulas and macros only where it wouldn't slow down the old 286 computer I started it on. None of it approaches full integration. I can't input a figure once and have it ratchet down to all the reports where it would be meaningful. Theoretically, all the employment records, including the W-2s, should be one click away, once I've input the original payroll information.
No one, and I mean No One, knows how many times I have to input the same data, just to make the Boss say, every six months or so, "Michael, I don't know how you do it. Your work is the best I've ever seen."
He thinks I'm a genius at using the computer, when really I'm only a genius at reading his mind and giving him what he wants. Which, by the way, isn't what anyone else wants. Banks, accountants, financial consultants — none of them has any idea how to read these reports that the Boss loves so much, unless he goes through them line by line.
It would really be quite comical, if it weren't so frightening. The whole company rests on the shaky foundation of my knowing what I'm doing and staying healthy enough (and interested enough) to keep doing it.
This gives me little comfort, when I recall that the Boss is going to be 62 years old this year. What in the world am I going to do if he decides to retire, or leaves the business for some other reason? I'll be obsolete the instant he's out of the picture.
And I have a few good years left in me, but I'm way past the age where it's easy to find a new job, especially one that would let me keep living in this high-rent house, buying tubs of tapioca pudding and five-pound sacks of premium wild bird seed.
Okay, I have to stop now. I'm scaring myself.