A is for Accounting

badge a to z challenge 2021

Accountants invented writing, money, international commerce, the middle class, and spreadsheets. When Genghis Khan would take over a city, the first people he’d send in would be the accountants. The Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Romans, the Tang dynasty–most of the huge empires and great civilizations thrived because of their accountants. Truly, as Max Bialystock says to Leo Bloom in “The Producers”:

You’re an accountant! You’re in a noble profession! The word “count” is part of your title!

Max Bialystock

It is once more the first of April, the first day of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Last year, I started writing A to Z about a subject (the Olympics) and still Haven’t STOPPED… stay tuned for exciting news along those lines in a few days.

This year, I am challenging myself to keep the entries super short. I won’t air my specific goal publicly, but I promise, Dear Readers, S-H-O-R-T. Suffice it to say, there will be 26 days worth of topics on the history, sociology, fun facts, and weird stories about Accounting, my noble profession.

The first office mug I ever bought.

Frankly, we don’t get enough credit. Or debit, as the case may be. Given how this noble profession is the underpinning of society, you’d think we’d be treated better than to be called the “guy with the green eye-shade…” Or, consider this, one of the first quotes I ever came across, when I was first discovering T-accounts and learning about why you don’t depreciate waste baskets:

The typical accountant is a man, past middle age, spare, wrinkled, intelligent, cold, passive, non-committal, with eyes like a cod-fish; polite in contact but at the same time unresponsive, calm and damnably composed as a concrete post or a plaster of Paris cast; a petrification with a heart of feldspar and without charm of the friendly germ, minus bowels, passion or a sense of humor. Happily they never reproduce and all of them finally go to Hell.

Elbert Hubbard

That quote was from the anarchist, traveling salesman, and founder of the Roycroft Arts & Crafts community Elbert Hubbard. He also became publisher of a magazine called The Philistine, which led him to be convicted for publishing obscenities. He petitioned first President Taft, then Wilson for a pardon, eventually breaking into a presidential cabinet meeting to plead his case. They granted his freedom, which allowed him to travel overseas. He happily grabbed his passport and in May 1915 boarded The Lusitania. Maybe it served him right; someone helped to track his magazine circulation and earnings from door-to-door soap sales.

None of the accountants I worked with had eyes like a cod-fish–some of the Executive Vice Presidents, now, that’s another story. But for the accountants, the ones who sit against the back wall during the big meeting with giant binders full of answers, then produce the key statistic at the critical juncture of the meeting….! These blogs are for you. We know how extremely creative we are. Just look at what Excel Ninjas can truly do!

Excel creativity by Reddit user Hormuegl

All ordinary people, who share the common characteristics of being hard-working and long-suffering. When it’s “that time of year” or month or season, whether working late on taxes, quarterlies, budgets, or that Special Executive Project, all the accountants know which food delivery services near the office are open past midnight. We probably invented DoorDash, too.

Trust me–it’s gonna be great!

perhaps “E is for Embezzle”?

6 Replies to “A is for Accounting”

  1. I always admired accountants. I even took some courses when I was a very young woman, in preparation to be a computer programmer. It was quickly discovered that the math turned out to be an insurmountable object for me in mastering accounting ‘concepts’. I understood them well enough (to a point), I just never could get them to work properly for me. Well it is what it is. I’ll look forward to your posts about your career with some relish!

    1. Melanie, if you did take up programming, then I salute you! I often think I was pushed out of it because it was such a male profession (people THINK it’s male-dominated now, try 1983!!!). Also, I took up accounting in part because Analytical Geometry (i.e. Trigonometry) and Calculus was so much more difficult. I think you had the wrong teacher if you perceived the math to be too hard; accounting math is no more difficult than add, multiply, divide. But there ARE a ton of “special” terms and new definitions to learn and all that can be daunting. Basic accounting is just making the left and right side balance. But let’s see if I can make that clear… only 25 more days to try!! thanks for the comment.

      1. One of my sons is studying to get a masters in accounting right now [after a BS in economics and minor in business a few years ago]. I convinced (lightly nudged) him to start during this novel coronavirus. We recently had a conversation in which his father asked what an actuary does. His response was along the lines that he wasn’t sure but thought it took more math (which he doesn’t want to do). I have another son who went the math route (as one of his bachelors), and (more) data science later (having minored before).

    1. I’ll take that as a challenge! Accountants make it look boring because shhhh otherwise will want to be one… thanks for your comment!

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