25 Stories About Work – the Henpecked Guy

I was recently on a plane doodling and thought of some funny / interesting stories from 25+ years of working and traveling. So I decided to write them up as short, random chapters of a non-book with the title of this post. Hope you enjoy them and / or find them interesting. Certainly the value will be at least equal to the marginal cost of the book (zero)…

Chicago, Illinois, early 1990s

One of the clients that I had was a (rare) financial services firm in downtown Chicago. This was a great client because I didn’t have to travel or do anything strange like audit a maximum security prison.

The job was also interesting because the firm we were auditing took in investor funds and turned around and invested in myriad hedge funds. As a result, during audit time (year end) we had a lot of work to do because in order to complete OUR audit, we had to receive reports from all the individual hedge funds that the firm’s clients invested in. Back then we were barely computerized and used lots of paper, and all the audited financials came in at the last minute, so we worked non-stop to attempt to meet customer deadlines.

At lunch we went out as a group and they brought the auditors along. Most of the time it was just me since I was fairly competent by that time so my manager usually left me on site to do all the work and just checked in on the results periodically. I was a workhorse, charging in hours from early morning to late night every day and on weekends during busy season. Since this firm made a lot of money, they didn’t care much how many hours we billed, they just wanted to complete the audit on time so that their clients felt confident in investing with them.

The manager from the client was interested in hiring me. This is typically how you got a job as an auditor – you impressed the client with your intelligence and work ethic, and then they hired you to join their internal audit staff. Since most of my clients were in government or distant utilities in undesirable (at the time) cities, this was an unusual circumstance for me.

As a guy you generally talk about a few topics – there’s sports on TV, sports that you do yourself (golfing), cars, gadgets, attractive women, work related items, and stories about going out and having a good time. Given that most of the clients at that time were predominantly male, these topics were the ones I heard all the time and had no trouble contributing to.

When I went to lunch with the (male) manager and his team, I noticed that his team were all women. He was a slight man and quiet, and didn’t impose his will on the conversation. As a result, the meals at lunch were on topics that I NEVER discussed nor even had a concept of mentioning. Typical topics included fashion, childbirth, colors, how long you went after having a child before you had marital relations, and myriad topics relating to kids and families. At the time (a kid right out of college) I had absolutely ZERO to add to the conversation, and was stunned into silence by the topics.

This was a good experience for me because I could understand how women felt when guys talked about sports or cars for hours on end and they had little or no interest in the topic nor the desire to even learn about it (I was particularly un-interested and squeamish about the childbirth and related stories). The tables were turned and now I was outnumbered (severely – they were a tough bunch too) and just sat silently during lunch, throwing in an occasional comment and then shutting up.

In the end I figured that the reason he was offering me a job is because he needed someone to talk to. I didn’t take the job and held out for another year in public accounting. Looking back it probably was a mistake to turn down that job because the firm boomed with the rise of hedge funds and is a major downtown company today. I ended up becoming a management consultant and traveling all around the USA for another ten years (and lots more stories like this) which probably was a much harder life than working downtown and commuting to the suburbs like most everyone else in the world. This wasn’t my last bad career miss, not by a longshot…

Cross posted at LITGM

9 thoughts on “25 Stories About Work – the Henpecked Guy”

  1. Hey I feel like I’ve finally arrived! There is a “25 stories about work” category! Maybe someone else can pick up the “25 stories” meme when I’m done with it too. I’m sure a lot of the bloggers here have seen a lot of interesting things across their careers, too.

  2. The story reminds me of when, as a boy of about 12, I first became aware of lesbians. A friend of my father’s owned a small baseball stadium on the south side of Chicago. It was at 75th street and Jeffrey, at the time a nice corner in a middle class neighborhood. There were lots of softball games, a few semi-pro. Plus there was a women’s pro softball league. This was about 1950, when I was 12. The friend had a tavern across the street from the stadium and the back room, which was a sort of party room where my father would put on huge barbecues for 75 people, was their hangout after games. They liked me and I have learned that some lesbians like early teenage boys (Don’t ask me why ). Anyway, it was interesting when I first began to tumble to what was going one.

    It was a little like being in a women’s world but, with a twist.

  3. “Maybe someone else can pick up the “25 stories” meme when I’m done with it too.”

    I have a book, which I am thinking about publishing as an ebook about my life as a surgeon. I have no idea if anyone would be interested enough to spend a buck or two for a Kindle version. Some of my students saw it as I was doing some editing last year and wanted to read it.

  4. I have a friend who is a CPA and if you think accountants lead dull lives…

    Some of the stories he tells – I tell him he should write a book with the names changed, of course.

    But since they are his stories I don’t think he’d appreciate my telling them.

  5. It’s going to be difficult to top the Joliet episode. A couple more like that, the Coen Brothers will be calling, looking to do a movie treatment of your story. In the early eighties, I got it in my head that the rough and tumble male-only, outdoorsy employment I had sought was past me, and that I might do well in the genteel confines of the cubicle set. Well…let’s say I have come full circle.

    That said, I can’t wait for the next installment. Do tell.

  6. Which reminds me of an auditing travel story I heard many years ago. When an accountant went to this particular state to audit the books of a company’s branch in that state, he got wined and dined a lot. Eventually- I don’t remember how many years it took to find out- the accountant(s) found out that the company’s manager in this state had been embezzling. While the accountant had been wined and dined, material had been moved from warehouse to warehouse between his audits. When the accountant saw material at one warehouse, it was the same material he had seen at a previous warehouse. Eventually this material kiting was caught.

    The story was so embarrassing to the company that it didn’t file criminal charges, as it didn’t want the bad publicity- as in how stupid could you have been? At least that was the story I was told.

    I worked for one company where the accountant discovered that an employee had embezzled around $250k. The employee and the employee’s spouse went to prison.

  7. In town here a legendary dealer – who at one time had dealerships from Long Beach to Anchorage – it was discovered that his long time bookkeeper had, over the years, embezzled ober $800K.

  8. In town here a legendary dealer – who at one time had dealerships from Long Beach to Anchorage – it was discovered that his long time bookkeeper had, over the years, embezzled over $800K.

  9. Mike – pm me at clyahayes-at-gee-mail-dot-com. You can do your book as a Kindle for not very much at all – just some time and formatting a basic word document to upload to Amazon’s system. I can walk you through the process. As the saying goes, it is not brain surgery.

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