Thursday, February 26, 2009

Why I'm Not An Accountant

The easy thing to do would just be to tell the story suggested by the title, and regale you all (or maybe just Cara) with the story of why I'm not an accountant. But that isn't any fun. Let's instead start with how I came to the idea of writing this down.

I came across this video of Louis C.K. talking about what spoiled idiots so many of us can be (thanks to Andrew Sullivan for posting the link). My first thought was to write something about how maybe we act this way because everything cool has been invented, and now all we need is for that cool stuff to happen faster. But that can't be true. There's definitely more cool stuff to come. I don't want to be like the guy in the 19th century who said the U.S. Patent Office wasn't necessary because everything that could be invented already had been, or the dude who said cars weren't necessary because horse drawn carriages were a fine mode of travel.

So after scrapping that, I started to think of caddying, and how maybe my 10 summers of carrying bags on my shoulders while rich guys hit balls with clubs is part of the reason why I can be more laid back, (although I get pissed like everyone else when websites don't load fast enough). I always appreciated the guy who knew he was getting to spend four hours outside on a beautiful piece of land playing a game with his friends, and no matter how bad he played, that was a pretty cool thing. Then I experienced the terrible combination of agony and joy that a round of golf can be, and my thoughts kind of changed, but that's another story.

So thinking of caddying reminded me of the events that led to me not being an accountant. And since this blog is at least tangentially about my employmentness, it's relevant. Time for the actual story:

We're going back to the spring of 1996. In a few short months I will be a high school graduate and am already signed on to attend some big school in the middle of Pennsylvania. I had gotten in planning to major in Accounting and International Business. Back then I was a little more aggressive educationally, I had been told by many people to start with a less popular major just to make sure I got in, then change it during my freshman year. This was not really my style (not then anyway), so I went with Accounting, and I got in.

This was my third year of caddying and there were a solid group of people I would almost always want to caddy for if given the chance. One was this guy whose name I can't remember right now who was an accountant. He was a decent guy, kinda nerdy (accountant, hello) and not so great a golfer. But he seemed pretty happy with his life, and whatever he was doing work wise, he was doing well enough to afford the country club lifestyle. That seemed like a pretty good deal for me at the time.

I had caddied for the guy a couple of times, but this time I was wearing a PSU hat and he started talking to me about college. When I told him I wanted to major in accounting, I was really surprised by the reaction: he pretty much stopped walking, turned to me and told me to change my major.

Really? This guy had the wife and the kids and the country club and the nice car because of accounting, I really didn't know how to react. But then he went further (I'm going to paraphrase):

Son, I know I've got a pretty good thing going here. I play golf with my friends just about every Saturday and Sunday. I've got a nice house, nice car, great kids and I love my wife. Maybe I shouldn't be complaining, but I wake up every single morning and I absolutely hate going to work. I can't stand my job, and I'd change it in a second if I could. But at this point, I really can't. If you want to stick with accounting, I'm sure you'll do well, but there are plenty of ways to make money in this world, make sure you're doing something you love.
When people ask me why I don't want to be a lawyer anymore, I say whatever I say but this moment is one of the first things I think of. It really changed my thinking about a lot of things. If this guy, who seemed to have everything he could want, could actually be so unhappy 5 mornings out of the week, isn't it worth it to do something I like not something that pays well but I hate? When I went up to PSU a couple of weeks later to schedule my 1st semester classes and do some placement testing, I also changed my major to finance. Still business, and still numbers, but the stock market definitely seemed cooler than losing my shit in the weeks before April 15th every year. I'm pretty sure accounting wouldn't have worked for me, so I'm glad about my choice. Thanks random guy who I used to caddy for. I'm sure you don't know it, but the hatred of your life that you expressed to a teenager almost 15 years ago really helped that kid out.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Too Soon?

Typically, when I think of the phrase "too soon," it reminds me of comedy. It comes up in the context of a joke or comment about a recent event (often some kind of tragedy) and whether it's too soon to make a joke about that event. For example, a joke about the Hindenburg on May 7th, 1937 would probably have been too soon, but now it's fair game. Personally I'm not sure there should be any limits in comedy, but that's a story for another day.

Today, I was asking myself whether it was too soon to be so happy about a 3 day weekend. I had multiple months of 7 day weekends while I was out of work. I've only been at this job for two weeks. Shouldn't I have woken up this morning disappointed that today was not another day to show my employers what a great business decision they made by hiring me? Instead, I woke up extremely happy that this week would only include 4 days of 6:30am alarms and had one extra day of no alarm goodness.

After giving it some thought, I say no, it was not too soon. Like many other things, I think the day to day aspects of employmentness, are like riding a bike. After seeing zero need for caffeine for all this time, I've fallen right back into my cup of coffee needed every morning routine (although hopefully this will change once I start my later hours in a couple of weeks). I fall right into the the usual, and generally bland, conversations about weekends (both past and upcoming) like I never left. And, probably most importantly for me, I've already remembered that the certainly un PC comment my friends would have enjoyed (well some of them anyway, I have some PC friends) is probably best left out of the office.

So as I sit here late on Monday night, watching First Blood instead of going to sleep, am I upset that I'm going to work tomorrow? No, I experienced the alternative for way too long to not be happy about having a job to do. Plus, so far I generally like the people that I'm working with, which has not always been the case in the past.

I think I'm going to save my answer to the "How do you like the job so far?" question, one I've been asked about 78,000 times over the last two weeks, for the next post. Until then, watch this SNL digital short. If you don't like it, you've lost cool points.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I completely stole this from Bill Simmons

There's no other way to write it. I saw this in an article he wrote on, and I'm stealing it. Watch now.

Some thoughts not stolen from Bill:

The unbelievable awesome NBA theme song from my youth is called Roundball Rock? Roundball Rock? If I had known the song that got me pumped up for all those Lakers/Celtics games was called Roundball Rock, I probably would have given up on the NBA much earlier than I did (for the record, that happened when the Lakers traded Shaq and kept Kobe).

Yanni owns John Tesh. I'll put the Acroyali/Standing in Motion medley (found here) up against anything Tesh can put together.

I think my favorite part of the John Tesh video is either the dueling violin/guitar solo in the middle, or how everyone seems to follow Tesh's lead and excitedly tosses their right hand up in the air as the song ends. I wonder if they were all told they had to do that so the big man would look less stupid.

Other Stuff:

Judd Gregg bails on Commerce before he can be confirmed. Care? Honestly, who was the last relevant Secretary of Commerce, even behind the scenes? Besides, he once voted to abolish the department. I'm surprised it took him 3 weeks to realize it might not be the gig for him.

Books I need to read:
The Skeptical Environmentalist - Bjorn Lomborg
The Yankee Years - Joe Torre and Tom Verducci
The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq - Thomas Ricks

First paycheck at the new job - tomorrow. Huzzah.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

One Rule

I won't complain.

I can't complain.

The purpose of this little writing experiment isn't so I can feel sorry about myself and my job situation. Too many people are out of work, and too many people got booted from jobs they actually like, for me to be unhappy about having one. On the other hand, I have a feeling the job environment I find myself in is going to provide lots of fodder for mediocre to decent writing (I already have a better appreciation for Office Space after 8 days). I also need a place to get my creative on, and facebook status updates can only provide so much.

So how did I get here? After going to law school and taking a law degree, it took three years to figure out being a lawyer was not my deal. Then after a short stint as a recruiter (note: taking a job in late 2007 where making money was dependent upon large banks needing to hire people was not a wise choice), I was stuck trying to figure out what to do with myself. I came across lots of jobs that seemed interesting and I was sure I could do, but with a background that screams LAWYER LAWYER LAWYER, nothing was really working out.

Then, with the help of some family connections and a manager that was willing to meet somebody whose background didn't quite match up with the description, I found myself a job. It pays less than I would have wanted, and it's not in the city I want to live in, but it's a gig. And it's a gig with a big company that has the potential for some good stuff down the line. Because of all that, I should not and will not be complaining.

This won't just be about me and getting used to this new job. It will be about AR*d and Lost and politics and whatever else I feel like writing about. From here on out, we'll see how it goes.