Word count, start of day -- 0
I noticed the redhead as soon as I set my audit bag next to the chair at the top of the long conference table. I looked around the table and gave a brief nod and quick smile to the assembled, then took my seat. She was hard not to notice, the only woman in the room under the age of fifty. I gave the rest of the room another quick once-over as I gathered myself to begin the meeting.
The redhead must be new, because I certainly did not see her last time I was on site. That visit was just to introduce myself to the controller as the senior auditor on their job. Now I did not meet the entire accounting staff at that time, there was not formal tour of the accounting office, but I did walk by a bunch of desks to get to Conroy's office. I definitely did not see this redhead at that time. I would have remembered this one.
I scanned the room, and saw that she was not looking at me. Good. I gave her a more thorough going over than before. Her red hair was straight and short, and the cut was intense. She wore a pale blue button down dress shirt. It was a relatively plain garment, but she fit into it perfectly. Leaning over the edge of my seat, I flipped open the latches on the leather bag. Flipping through the contents to find the appropriate notebooks and pads, I snuck a quick glance towards the redhead. Nice shoes. Low slung black numbers with maybe one inch heels, one dangling loosely from a foot. Very nice. She wore a navy skirt that even when seated fell before the knee. Very conservative clothes. Probably appropriate dress for an accountant working at a nursing home. I straightened up again and nodded at the room in general.
I eyed the redhead once last time as I arranged my papers on the table. She gave off a sense of maturity that was unusual for someone her age. I would guess she was in her mid twenties, half the age of the next youngest employee here, but she seemed to have a real life.
"Carrie," I said, nodding to the controller, "Is this everyone?"
The woman nodded and replied, 'This is the department, Brian. We've got a sign on the door that we're in a meeting and we'll be back as soon as possible."
"Point taken, Carrie," I answered with a grin. For most of the accounting department, this meeting was a formality as much as anything else. I needed to introduce myself and let them know what I would be doing, what our schedule was, how intrusive we would be, and so on. Then I needed to get with Carrie and whichever accountant or clerk would be our liaison for the audit.
Carrie Conroy stood and walked to the head of the table. When she was beside me, she said, "The purpose of this meeting is for us to meet our new lead auditor. Don't worry, they won't be as bad as Gilroy and McMullen." The group laughed, and I smiled. No accounting team ever liked their auditor, except for Enron. They loved their auditors. We were by definition supposed to be adversaries. I was there to double-check their work, after all. The best is could ever say was that I didn't find any of their mistakes. She continued. "This is Brian Norton of Phares and Barnes. They are our new auditors and Brian here will be the auditor in charge of the day-to-day work. He asked for a chance to get to know the accounting staff here, and we were more than happy to give him this time." Nodding and smiling graciously, she concluded, "So here's Brian." She retreated to her chair halfway down the left side of the rectangulartable.
I stood and half-waved to the assembled staff before reseating myself. "Morning. I appreciate your willingness to give up a few minutes of intense accounting work to spend some time with me." I smiled, waiting for reaction. Hell, I thought it was funny, but evidently nobody else did. I caught the redhead's eyes, and she smiled. A little. Tough room. "I just wanted to introduce myself to you, and tell you on behalf of my firm, we are excited and pleased to be your auditors. As a new client, I'll need to do some one-time work before the audit starts, getting to know your systems and organizational components. That should be in November, then at the end of December I'll be in for a few days of what we call the "pre-audit," which includes getting a jump start on some traditional year-end audit functions. This allows us to complete the field work of the audit earlier than we would otherwise." This was true, but it was also true that this gave those auditors not traveling for the holidays something to do in December, a notoriously slow time in the profession. What with tax season beginning at the end of January, a little slow time was considered a good thing, at least by the professional staff. Managers and partners took a different view of things; hence the "pre-audit."
I continued. "Once I get a look at your books, we make a determination whether a physical inventory audit is required at the end of the year. I don't know if Gilroy and McMullen traditionally did one," I paused, eyeing the crowd. Heads were shaken. "Well, since this is our first year, I expect that we will." They showed no expression, probably going over in their minds who would be the lucky soul who gets to stay late on New Years' Eve to count medical supplies.
"I do not know our exact plan yet, it depends on a number of factors, obviously, but I expect to get in here by the second week of January with one to two associates, to get the work started, maybe for a week or so. Then, it may be one more week in middle February to finish the work. After that, we'll leave you alone until next year." I smiled at this comment, and actually received a few in return. This thought they liked. Not encouraging.
"What I'd like now is to go around the room and have each of you just tell me who you are and what your job is here at Canterbury. This will help me get a feel of who to ask when I have a specific question or need a particular document, without having to ask Carrie every question." I got out my pad of paper and began to write, as each spoke.
They all droned on, each and every one. It was as if each person in this department had the most important job in the world. We are just accountants here, not the actual caregivers. Our jobs are not this important. At least this Norton didn't ask any questions or this meeting would never end. He was kind of cute. No, that's not quite right. I looked at him a little closer. He has the potential to be cute, but he definitely needs a new haircut. She chuckled to herself. Still looks Okay for an accountant, though.
Then it was my turn. I straightened and cleared my throat. I tried to speak a little louder than usual. I needed to do that in group settings. "Well, I am Annie Bainbridge, and I am the senior bookkeeper. I maintain the general ledger accounts and balance the bank statements and do most basic accounting and bookkeeping functions." There. Short and sweet. Over and out.
"Ann, was it?" Norton asked.
"Annie," I replied, saying it a little slower this time. It wasn't my given name, but I've gone by it all my life. It's easier to spell and cuts down on the funny looks. I get enough unwanted attention as it is.
"How long have you worked here, Annie?" he asked.
"Three months now."
"Have you ever been on the receiving side of an audit at another job?"
I shook my head. "No."
"It'll be a learning experience then," he said with a smile. He turned to my boss, Carrie Conroy and asked her, "Everyone else on the staff has been here since last year?"
Carrie nodded. "Longer than that," she said with a smile. Everyone laughed except me. And Norton. He didn't laugh, either. "After Annie, I think the newest employee is Bonnie, is that right?" Bonnie nodded. "How long have you been here, Bonnie?" she asked.
Hold on. Did Bonnie say seventeen years? So what, I was eight when she started working here? Unbelievable. But I suppose at a place like this, the residents like to see employees they can relate to. I chuckled at the thought. How the hell did they hire me? I've got forty years before I can relate to the customers here.
Norton was speaking again. I picked him up in mid-sentence, "-the audit process. It all starts with the trial balance, verifying those numbers and the transactions that stand behind them. Do you maintain the source documents?" This was directed at me, and I didn't quite know what he meant. "I've got the memos for general journal entries, bank documents," I trailed off.
"Cash disbursements vouchers? Like invoices?"
Now I understood. "I think that Phyllis keeps those over in accounts payable."
Phyllis nodded. "I have them."
"Good," Norton nodded, scribbling on his yellow pad. Left-handed. What does that say about a person? That's the creative artsy folks, right? That can't be. This guy's an accountant. I must have that wrong. But he was speaking again. Damn, girl, pay attention. "-ledgers and journals?"
"Did you ask where are they?" God, I hope that's what he asked.
He nodded. "Yeah. You have them?"
"In my office."
"Locked every night?"
"Good. You and Carrie have the keys?"
"Yes." Come on, Norton, stop with the third degree. You didn't ask a single question of anyone here till you got to me, buddy. "Well," Norton said, "These sorts of questions can wait till a later date. I was getting a bit ahead of myself, sorry about that."
I smiled at him. I was nice of him to notice he was putting me on the spot. It made me appreciate him. He still needed a new hairstyle, but he seemed like a nice guy.