Friday, August 06, 2010

The Cover Up

During my nine hour stint today at work (official title: Super Accounting Dude), I was playing with some numbers ("Where'd five go? Where'd fiiiive go? Peekaboo!") when someone dropped an expense report on my desk. Expense reports are filled out and given to me for two reasons: One, as a way to document and turn in receipts in order to receive a reimbursement, and two, to explain what the expense was for and how it relates to company business. A coincidental third reason for filling out expense reports is so I can test for basic knowledge of Excel and how formulas work, basic addition and subtraction, and last but certainly not least, correct spelling and grammar.

As someone who has trudged through the public screwl system and graduated college with a fancy degree that I still haven't picked up from the university...

...I was surprised at first to see upper management people and other big titles handing me expense reports with incorrect addition due to poor use of formulas in Excel, misspellings of their superior's last name...multiple times, and other gross typos and grammatical oversights. In some cases, some people seem to be incapable of turning in expense reports at all EXCEPT when a reimbursement is needed. Then they are magically able to find all of their receipts and finish what previously seemed to be the insurmountable task of allocating five minutes to filling out an expense report.

So when the expense report was dropped on my desk, I did my normal professional accounting routine - look for spelling errors. Normally, if that produces no hilarity, I'll then flip through the receipts. Since I'm just an accountant, I don't get to go to all the fancy dinners where clients are schmoozed and expensive bottles of wine are swished and tips are given in amounts that are more than what I make in a day. So I do the next best thing - find the receipts that give a line-itemized account of what was purchased, and live vicariously. It's a glamorous profession, but someone has to do it.

This particular expense report was submitted by a lady whom I know has never had to fill out an expense report before. I don't know how some people feel about submitting expense reports that show in detail what they consumed/enjoyed/partook of/etc... on the company dollar. Maybe some feel guilt at ordering that extra martini; maybe some feel justified in eating that $50 steak; maybe some others do it unabashedly in the noble name of putting on a well-fed face for the company.

Regardless of the reason, the person who submitted this expense report apparently had some issue she was trying to cover up. Admittedly, I don't talk to this particular person at work very much, so I don't know if perhaps she's on a diet, or conscious of her weight, or maybe just afraid of what others think of her eating habits. But I just don't understand why else she would do this:

The first item on the receipt is for a Chocolate Chip Cookie. However, it's not just any chocolate chip cookie - it's a nearly $3 chocolate chip cookie. Imagine the size! It must have been like holding a garbage can lid with both hands and...oh wait. It's from an airport snack bar. It was probably more like holding a quarter with a thumb and index finger and probably tasted similar too.

Regardless of its size, "someone" crossed out "Choc CP Cookie" and wrote "BAGEL" above it. I'm sorry, but how stupid does she think I am?

Sean: *mouth gaping open, with a string of drool reaching from my bottom lip to the desk* "Daaaah, uh bayguhl? Oh ummkay, dat sownds akseptabuhl. At leest it wusn't a kooky."

Besides, I'm not stupid because I'm not the one buying an imported strawberry from Odwalla (where's that? Australia?) for $4.99. Unless it was this one:

Part of me wanted to confront her about it in the hallway or something and ask,

"So, how was your...bagel?"
"It was fine, thank you."
"Oh, was it? Oh, I'm so glad to hear that! Here's your reimbursement check."

Hey, I'm in accounting and sit in a cubicle all day. I'm not one for confrontations. I would probably choose a more subtle route.

Bagel Girl: "Look! Someone brought homemade chocolate chip cookies to work."
Me: "Oh, it's too bad they didn't bring any nutritious guilt-free BAGELS!"
Bagel Girl: "Why are you yelling?"
Me: "LOOK OVER THERE!" *takes the chocolate chip cookie platter and runs*

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a sudden hankering for a...bagel. And an Australian strawberry.

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