Although most accountants are
upstanding citizens who save many an American's financial rear end come tax
time; their image is that of humorless pencil pushers. Worse, with this Enron /
Arthur Andersen thing blowing up, a bean counter carries the unenviable baggage
of being seen as someone who would illegally shred documents by the truckload
rather than do the right thing.
Interestingly enough (or maybe
not), Ohio State University has an Accounting Hall of Fame. Inductees are
individuals who, according to the Hall's website, "have made or are making
significant contributions to the advancement of accounting." No mention of
the recent accounting scandals is made on the Hall's website. Still, one
wonders whether adding a down-to-earth touch to the Accounting Hall of Fame
might help the profession's image. Adding some people with accounting
backgrounds who most of us have heard of could help.
Inductees on the first Cool
Accountants Ballot would likely include:
Robert "Bob" Newhart – Prior to becoming a
star stand-up comedian who had the first comedy album to go to number one
on the charts, Bob had a bookkeeping job in Chicago. His best comedic
effects – stammering and accurately-timed pauses – are both typical
results of spending long hours doing bank reconciliations. He solidified
his status as a favorite of dateless double-entry-system fans by
inexplicably having two babe-o-liscous television wives: Suzanne Pleshette
and Mary Frann. Bravo.
Michael "Metal Mike" Saunders – Mike leads
Los Angeles wiseguy punkers The Angry Samoans and is also a rock critic
who recently had the courage and accuracy to deem Elvis Costello a
"can't-rock weenie" in a rockcritics.com interview. Apparently,
when he was a youth singing a Samoans song like "My Old Man's a
Fatso" and someone yelled "Don't quit your day job!" he was
paying attention – he obtained his accounting degree in 1977 and has
enjoyed a successful accounting career for a quarter-century now.
Hillary "Norm" Peterson – Both the burden
of his real first name and the quandary of being a talented accountant who
merely wants to be a cog in the corporate machine has driven Norm to spend
long hours in Boston pub Cheers. Legend has it that the entire bar yells
out his name whenever he enters. His many retorts to bartenders' friendly
openers (Q: What would you say to a nice beer, Normie? A: Going down?)
have reached historic status; while his barstool quips on beer, his wife,
beer, and life have led him to be a patron saint of barflies nationwide.
Saint Matthew – He wrote a gospel not only good
enough to survive the Council of Carthage and make the Gospel Final Four,
but it also has the honor of kicking off the New Testament. He was a tax
collector until Jesus of Nazareth said two words: "Follow me."
In relating the Calling of Matthew Story, three gospels have noted New
Testament jerks the Pharisees referring to accountants like Matthew in the
same sentence as "sinners." They must have seen those Arthur
Andersen auditors coming.