During my interview, the CFO had warned me that the accountant’s office was not exactly organized, but I was in no way prepared for the disaster that I walked into on Wednesday morning. When I attempted to enter his office to introduce myself, I couldn’t identify a clear pathway to his desk to shake his hand, so I politely waved from the doorway. He had so many loose work papers scattered all over the room that I thought I had just walked into John Nash’s office in A Beautiful Mind right before they had him committed. Unfortunately, I don’t think that my predecessor had the “beautiful mind” to compensate for this mad behavior (more on that later). He seemed flustered at the sight of me, and when I asked if we could start reviewing the accounting software, he asked if we could wait until Thursday, as he wanted one day to organize his office. The fact that he believed that he’d be able to organize his office in just one day should have been my first hint that he was not all right. Regardless, I let him pursue his delusional goals, and I returned to my temporary workstation. Since the company hadn’t set me up on a work computer yet, I spent the next 9.5 uninterrupted hours reading handouts on accounting for film/tv production. Needless to say, it was a pretty awful first day, and I was starting to wish that I had taken Mark’s advice and gotten a job at Bubba Gump Shrimp Factory at the Pier.
The next day, I went straight to the accountant’s office and demanded that he start teaching me how to use the accounting system. His office looked the same, if not worse, but I brought in a chair (his chairs were still covered with papers) and cleared a spot next to him so that we could begin. Now I’m not a doctor, but I’m fairly positive that this guy had something wrong with him. Apart from his inability to file a paper away (or even throw it out), he kept muttering phrases to himself all day like Rain Man. We’d be in the middle of discussing General Ledger coding when he would start saying, “OK, yeah. OK, yeah.” He’d repeat this expression for at least two minutes, before I finally chimed in to remind him that I was sitting next to him. I became so uncomfortable sitting there during his vocal digressions that I started doodling nonsense in my steno pad just to keep me busy until he was through.
The accountant also had an odd way of complimenting himself at various times throughout the day. I’m the first person to admit that I’m a master at the “backdoor compliment,” which is when you say how wonderful you are while appearing to be humble, but this guy just came barging through the front door with each one of his self-directed compliments! He kept saying things like, “You’re really fortunate that you started work this week because I’m a really good teacher. I think I might have missed my calling.” This couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Like his work papers, his method of instructing was all over the place. He couldn’t focus on any topic for longer than ten seconds, and every time he started a new thought, he printed out at least ten sheets of paper to accompany his elusive point. It also didn’t help that a good amount of what he was telling me was incorrect. For the most part, I tried to let it go, but sometimes he would get so entangled in his instructions that I would finally chime in to let him know where he went astray. At one point, he became so frustrated with me correcting him that he turned to me and said, “Could you leave me alone for ten minutes? I need a break from you.” I’m sure that my parents have said something similar to me over the years, but I thought it was a little rude coming from someone who I had only known for 24 hours. I started to return to my workstation, but then got nervous that my boss would give me more accounting guidance to review if he saw me sitting at my desk without anything to work on. Therefore, I hid out on the other side of the building and played Words with Friends. Once my ten-minute timeout had expired, I returned to the accountant’s office and we resumed my training. Surprisingly enough, we made it through quite a lot of information on that second day, and I was optimistic that we’d make it through almost everything by the end of the day on Friday.
When I knocked on the accountant’s door in the morning, he asked if we could postpone our training until after lunch, as he really wanted to clean up his office before he left. Since I would be inheriting his mess when I took over his office, I agreed. Fortunately, OIT had finally set me up with a computer at my workstation, so I was able to train myself on the system for the next few hours (and access G-chat). After lunch, the accountant stopped by to tell me that he needed another few hours to continue cleaning. I carried on with my independent study until about 4:30pm, when I finally went looking for the accountant and found him talking on his cell phone to his girlfriend. His office was still a mess, as there were multiple piles of paper all over the floor, desk, and chairs. He told me that he had done his best in the time allotted, and that he had tried to put the papers into piles that would make sense to me. Frustrated, I abandoned any hopes of a final training session, and instead, I asked him a handful of questions that I had written down throughout the day.
The accountant finished his feeble attempt at answering my questions around 6:30pm, and I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there and start my weekend. As I bid him farewell (good riddance), he said to me, “We seem very similar. I feel like our paths will cross again.” Dear Lord, I hope not. Then he said, “Feel free to use me as a reference. Even though we only knew each other for three days, I can tell that you’re smart.” I’m not sure that his reference would hold a lot of credibility, but I thanked him nonetheless and wished him good luck with the rest of his life. He was nice enough, and I guess I should appreciate the fact that he didn’t set the bar too high. Heck, I’ll likely get major kudos simply for throwing away old work papers and keeping a clean desk. I am optimistic that this training experience was just a hiccup along the way and not an omen for what the rest of this job will be like, but for now, “it’s the freakin’ weekend baby I’m about to have me some fun!”