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Thursday, May 24, 2001

It just goes on and on, only it gets worse. The Boss has decided he wants to bypass the accountant and do the financial statements himself, then tell the accountant what numbers to plug into them. The Boss is not an accountant, and neither am I... but he thinks he is, and I know I'm not.

He was on the phone before I was even dressed this morning, glorying in the fact that he had some free time and could work on this stuff with me. My part is to listen to what he plans to do and give him a spreadsheet that proves he's not crazy. I don't have to know what I'm talking about; I just have to be creative.

Oddly enough, that's a talent I've developed over the fifteen years I've worked for this guy. I can make a spreadsheet say almost anything and bury the details so deeply that it would take an accountant much sharper than ours to find them.

If any false impressions come out of the way the numbers come together, the Boss has his own specialty. He can talk in circles and make you believe a 6 is a 9. I asked him once if we were better off with an accountant we could manipulate, rather than one who actually knew what he was doing. "You're damn right," he said.

My eyes glaze over when he talks to me about anything to do with the financial statements. His thinking is so convoluted that I can't follow where he's going. Every so often I'll pick up on something that he's completely misinterpreted and call him on it. He'll simply tell me that the way he sees it is the way it's going to be.

I have no argument for that, because I see the details so much more clearly than the big picture. If I make sure the numbers in the column are correct, and the total is correct, I feel I've done my job. If he can convince someone that it says what he wants to believe it says, I can't help that.

I'm absolutely not saying that he's doing anything illegal. In fact, I don't even believe that he is. I'm not sure our accounting methods conform to any standard industry practices, but that's what thinking outside the box will do.

We're doing all this for the benefit of banks and insurance companies, and they have their own ways of looking at the world. They need to be shaken up a little, because there's a little twilight zone in the real world that all their formulas and procedures can't account for. If I'm helping to shatter their illusion that they know everything, I'm glad for it.

I feel as if I've been carrying a baby elephant on my back all day. Just when I thought the day was over, I got a revision to the Boss's personal financial statement that he wanted typed (typed!) today. That meant another half hour or so bending over the typewriter, just when I was ready to collapse.

He does so many revisions to every letter, just because the word processor makes it so easy, that I think he forgets I have to start from the beginning of anything that has to be done on a typewriter.

I don't know how much more of this I can put my poor old body through. Anyone who thinks an office job isn't physically demanding is mistaken (and probably a lot younger than I am).

looking west beyond the fence

The one benefit (to me) out of all this concentration is that I don't have time to worry about all my other duties, and about what might happen, and about things I should be doing. We started working early and worked straight through the day. Whenever I'd try to get something else done I'd be interrupted. Finally I gave up.

When the day finally does end, I start feeling it. The aching back becomes unbearable, and all the other sore spots start to throb. I feel badly used.

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