In 2008, my colleague John, a professional accountant, retired; in other words, John had become a fully depreciated accountant with no remaining useful life. Or as Donald Trump would say “an ugly worthless write-off.”
Although nobody knew John’s true age, with more double underlines on his forehead than one finds on a typical balance sheet, it was fairly obvious that John was no spring chicken. The “debit” and “credit” tattoos on his hands, having faded over the years, were no longer legible. The extent of his memory loss made it no longer possible for him to spell KPMG.
The truth is that for the previous few years John demonstrated less functionality than a $28 Texas Instruments BA II Plus Financial Calculator and couldn’t prepare a tax form using TurboTax software if his pension plan and retirement benefits depended upon it.
During the last 6 months on the job, John’s lack of productivity resulted in his list of things to do becoming longer than Lindsay Lohan’s rap sheet. During this period, John spent most of his time entering his personal financial information into an on-line “Retirement Calculator” only to discover that he had a projected shortfall of $1,000,000 unless he moved to a trailer park, ate macaroni and cheese every night and worked at H&R Block during tax season until he turned 92 – and then he wouldn’t go broke until he turned 93.
John’s final day at the office started out like all of the others. John arrived at the office a few minutes before 8am and rode up and down the office elevator for 3 minutes allowing him to arrive at 8am sharp. As is the norm for accountants, John spent the next hour thinking of something to do spontaneously. After repeating this exercise for another eight hours, spontaneously John announced his retirement and then rode down the office elevator one last time.
Suzie, John’s executive assistant, was given the unenviable job of packing up everything in the office except his dust collection. For Suzie it was like taking a trip back in time as she discovered the following treasures hidden in various drawers and closets:
Comptometer Mechanical Accountant key-driven calculator
Unused package of floppy disks
A case of Liquid Paper Correction Fluid
Mechanical pencil sharpener
A faded Post-it note with the words: “Debits on the left – Credits on the right.”
As soon as the dust had been removed from John’s office I moved in. Moving into the corner office was a dream come true. Or at least part of a dream come true. The part with Olivia Wilde at my side, as my devoted executive assistant, was still a dream. Suzie was no Olivia Wilde.
A few weeks after I moved into my new office, John paid me an unexpected visit. He told me it had always been his dream to retire and experience life to its fullest by sleeping in each morning, listening to his collection of funeral dirges throughout the afternoon and spending the evening reading 11th century poetry; however, after a few weeks he found himself missing the adrenaline rush one only gets from preparing financial statements, the buzz in the office upon finding a tax loophole and most of all Finola, the gorgeous Barista at the nearby Starbucks. Holding his cup of coffee, he said “I am coming back.”
I had waited at least ten years for the corner office. I knew I had to take drastic measures. Instinctively, I stabbed him with my Pentel semi-automatic .5mm mechanical lead pencil. Despite wearing a pocket protector, immediately John dropped dead. Regrettably, coffee splattered everywhere. On my way home from the office, I discarded the evidence, from my heinous crime, by throwing my almost fully loaded Pentel semi-automatic .5mm mechanical lead pencil into the Flint River.
Inevitably, the coroner concluded that John had dropped dead from lead poisoning. The coroner concluded that there was no sign of foul play as fully depreciated accountants frequently die from lead poisoning as a result of countless years of often accidentally discharging lead while sucking on the wrong end of a mechanical lead pencil.
For the past eight years, John’s death never gave me cause for concern. But after hearing that the residents of Flint have been drinking contaminated water, sourced from the Flint River, with elevated levels of lead, even cold-hearted me couldn’t stop feeling somewhat responsible. I wonder why the Governor of Michigan doesn’t feel the same?