As a new employee, I’m pretty much the lowest in the pecking order of our company’s accounting department. So I’m used to doing unpleasant task. So, it didn’t surprise me when my boss asked me to go talk to the advertising department director and sort through a slight discrepancy in their report. The director hadn’t been responding to my bosses emails and our monthly balances were coming up.
What was shocking, however, was what I found in the directors office. The director was half-asleep in his chair surrounded with at least two and a half days worth of donut boxes, brown bags and soda cans. I rapped on the door and he roused himself. I relayed the problem to him. He looked up that day’s accounts and within five minutes, printed out a copy that fixed the problem.
However, something nagged at my thoughts. Could this man, surrounded by a pile of his own filth responsibly take care of his department’s finances. My doubts on the matter got the better of me.
“Could I look through your accounting records to see if there are any other issues?” I finally blurted out.
The director stared at me for several seconds, so I repeated my request.
“I heard you the first time.” He spoke shortly, and then remained silent for several seconds. To my surprise, when he finally spoke, he spoke with a smile.
“Sure, but could you get me some coffee?”
I was delighted-- I had wanted to be an internal auditor ever since my first class as an accounting major and now at last I had my shot. Never had I made coffee with such great relish and excitement. It took all of my self control not to tear the computer from his hands in pure excitement once I returned to the office.
Within minutes I found I had not made a mistake. The records were as incorrect, incomplete and tangled as Tarzan’s jungle. It took me a good two hours to get everything straightened out. By the time I finished, I was in an indignant fever and, after e-mailing him a copy of the changes I made, practically ran to my boss to make a report all of the atrocities I had uncovered.
My elation only increased when I stepped into his office and he was on the phone . As I walked to the chair behind his desk, I heard my name. He was asking the director about my visit! I sat down on the chair behind his desk. His tone was worried and confused-- as it should be with one of our major department’s finances in such a state.
“BAHAHAHAH” My boss suddenly let loose a massive , jovial laugh. “ Alright, Matt, you’ve got the better of me this time-- but watch out!”
A few laughs later and he hung up the phone. I was now standing up, white-knuckled.
“What happened?” I couldn’t imagine something that would make something this serious even mildly entertaining and could only assume that my boss had been undergoing a lot of pressure and had snapped.
“Matt,” he said slowly, “and I have had a little… friendly rivalry ever since we were first hired. It seems that while you were getting him coffee, he put together a copy of their real database put you to work on that one. While you were working on that, he used one of his department’s computers to make changes-- incongruities-- to the alternate department’s database the whole time you were there! It was pretty good” He then proceeded to fall back into chuckling.
“I don’t appreciate my time being wasted,” I said quietly, and turned to march back to the advertising department and give “Matt” a piece of my mind.
“Elaine, you just started at this company. Don’t go mouthing off to department directors.” Seeing my mutinous look he added “you have too much ambition for me to let you ruin your career over some little prank. Now get back to work.”
I did go back to work. I got a lot done that day. But it wasn’t over yet. With no legitimate outlet to vent my indignance, I indulged myself in plotting silent and terrible revenge.