The Office Inbetweener

SOME GUYS JUST AREN'T CUT OUT FOR A 9 TO 5…

The Balance Sheet

I promise I’m working on some new stuff. But in the meantime…

It dawned on me recently that for a blog that has the word ‘Office’ in its title, I haven’t really shared many work stories with you. So to rectify the situation let me start by explaining what it was that I actually used to do. Which itself is best explained by a conversation I had with Junior whilst at XY.

Junior: “Mate, do you ever get the feeling that all we essentially do is tell rich people how much tax they owe at the end of the year?”

Me: “I don’t get ‘the feeling’ Junior. That ‘is’ precisely what we do.”

Of course, within that process we would look at ways in which these rich folk could minimise their liabilities and a whole bunch of other crap but as Junior astutely figured out, the end game was always the same.

Annnd obviously once we’d realised that that was all we would be doing, we jumped ship. He, to a completely different industry with a whole new range of problems to solve. And I?

Well… I made it off the ship. I just didn’t get very far. And before too long I was:

Essentially telling rich people how much tax they owed at the end of the year.

In my defence, Junior went to Cambridge so was better equipped to make it to shore. And although I was doing the same job, it was definitely more enjoyable at the FIRM. Though how much of this enjoyment could be attributed to a love of tax..?

tax graphAnd they said sending me on that weekend Excel course was a waste of money.

Note that a love of tax DOES actually feature in the above graph. And although I’ve chosen to represent it by an equal sized wedge, the staff canteen was actually one of the greatest things about my job.

For an embarrassingly small contribution, one could lunch on dishes such as fresh salads (for the health conscious and those that were still kidding themselves) to sausages & mash with a cheesecake chaser (for the less health conscious and those who had accepted their fate).

Needless to say, it took its toll and I went from a 32″ waist in ’06 to a 34″ (and counting) when I left in early ’12.

The second Thursday of each month was a particular favourite of mine as that was fried chicken day. And due to the location of our department and Slacks’ ‘connections’, the two of us could be at a table with the equivalent of a KFC bucket each by 12.02.

Our ability to gain a head start on the competition suited me perfectly on one such Thursday as I had a prospective client meeting at half twelve.

Now unlike the portfolio management guys – who were armed with performance charts and comparison figures or the bankers, who worked within specific parameters e.g. your income is X therefore we can only lend you Y – selling tax services was a bit of an arse at times.

From the bumf I’d been sent prior to our meeting, Mr Jenkins seemed like the sort of client we’d want to take on (i.e. his affairs were complicated therefore we could charge more in fees) and with staff appraisals fast approaching, he would’ve been a most useful acquisition.

Luckily I’d already my colleague had already managed to identify a few tax planning opportunities so after the brief spiel about the company’s history; I should’ve been set.

Unfortunately, Mr Jenkins was one of those inquisitive sorts and what was supposed to have been a five-minute summary was quickly turning into a full-blown history lesson.

Normally this wouldn’t have bothered me too much. But it seemed that I had been a little too aggressive with the chicken drumsticks at lunch, as after around 10 minutes into the meeting I felt the sudden urge to ‘drop it like it’s hot’.

Immediately, I thought of Flembo’s advice when he was in a similar situation. However I didn’t feel comfortable performing an impromptu coughing fit. Not least because one cough out-of-place and we could’ve been looking at a full-blown shit-uation.

I did my best to keep my composure and soldier on but there was no way I was going to be able last until 1.30. And if I didn’t act soon, things were quickly going to escalate out of hand.

excessive-sweatingThey don’t make ‘em like they used to

As I sat there, palms sweaty, brow glistening, my stomach making those awkward whale noises (that you’re not quite sure if anyone else but you can actually hear), I heard Mr Jenkins ask a question about the FIRM’s financial position.

This was it. This. Was. The lifeline.

Me: “Well, I don’t have any figures to hand unfortunately.” This was a lie as financial snapshots were readily available in most meeting rooms.

“But if you bear with me a moment, I can grab you a copy of our balance sheet.”

Mr Jenkins: “Oh it’s not that important. Just being curious.”

Me: You’re right. It’s not important. Nothing you’ve fucking asked me has been important you cock. “Nooo, honestly it’s fine. It’ll take no time at all. I insist.”

And before he even had time to respond, my hand was already turning the doorknob to let myself out.

With one hand firmly clamped around my arse cheeks, I sped off down the corridor to the gents; picking up a copy of the balance sheet from one of the unoccupied meeting rooms en route.

I won’t go into the specifics of what went down but the experience was very much how I imagine it must feel to birth a manatee calf.

manatee

And once it was over I had to stay seated for a few seconds to catch my breath and dare I say it, savour the moment.

As I rounded the corner and made my way toward the sinks, I noticed someone with his back to me, washing his hands. Oh dear god, no. It can’t be?

It was Mr Jenkins. And it was too late. He’d already noticed my reflection in the mirror and had turned to face me. How long had he been there? Had he heard me committing murder in stall three? So many questions, so little time.

“Well I wouldn’t have thought you’d find a balance sheet in there?” he quipped.

And I responded, almost laughingly though I’m still not sure why, “no you’re wrong, I have one right here.”

And with my clammy, unwashed hand I removed the now slightly crumpled, slightly damp piece of paper from under my arm and offered it to him.

It truly was as awful as it sounds and time did in fact stand still for at least 5 seconds whilst he contemplated what to do.

He mumbled something under his breath, reached out his hand and making the absolute bare minimum of contact with his thumb and forefinger, he took the balance sheet from me, turned his back and swiftly exited the gents.

He asked no more questions about the FIRM once the meeting resumed and although it was completely futile, I still talked him through the planning opportunities that were available to him.

Though my hands were now clean, I held no ill feeling towards him when he opted for a modest head nod instead of the customary handshake to mark the end of our time together.

As I closed the door behind me, I looked back into the room to see if he had left anything behind and there; standing alone in the waste paper basket, seemingly untouched after it had left my possession was the balance sheet.

I guess it really wasn’t that important after all.

If you liked this then I suspect you might also enjoy my book. Or not.

Either way, thanks for reading; particularly to those of you who share these stories and/or leave comments.

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77 comments on “The Balance Sheet

  1. Expat Eye
    10th November 13

    You seem to get yourself into a lot of shituations 😉

    Like

  2. mikemajor9
    10th November 13

    Holy… shit (sorry) that was brutal! I was definitely in similar pointless pitch meetings with clients and prospective clients – but thankfully never had to endure that kind of a butt-churning ordeal. Too damn funny, dude. And many thanks to you and Twin-D for adding “shit-uation” to my lexicon. That word is pure brilliance. 🙂

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      10th November 13

      Man, knowing you have to drop a deuce during any sort of meeting is always a killer. I’m just grateful he gave me an out.

      Glad you enjoyed the read and thanks so much for the tweet. I really appreciate it.

      PS – One day I’ll get round to writing about what happend in NYC. Once the scars have healed…

      Like

      • mikemajor9
        10th November 13

        Oh man – okay, really looking forward to reading that NYC story. Everything’s bigger and crazier in New York.

        Like

  3. Aussa Lorens
    10th November 13

    Hahaha oh my gosh. This reminds me of when I worked at AT&T and one of my guy coworkers was using his cell phone to call customer service for a customer– he suddenly felt an urgent need for the bathroom and made up some excuse to run to the back office and check on something. A few minutes later, while he was sitting on the toilet and still on the phone (on hold) his customer accidentally walked in on him in the single-toilet restroom. It was a beautiful moment. He too had to go back out there and finish up the transaction without speaking of it.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      10th November 13

      Although I’ve had many ‘turd related’ episodes in life, I don’t think anyone has ever walked in on me… YET.

      Though this was no less embarrassing. Glad you enjoyed it. As I was worried how it would be received given it contained no women, strippers or hookers…

      Like

      • Aussa Lorens
        10th November 13

        Haha well it’s always good to shake things up a bit 😉

        Like

  4. MeglyMc
    10th November 13

    I shit you not…this is the fourth time in the last three days that Airplane has come up for me. What the hell!? IT’S FOLLOWING ME.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      11th November 13

      It guess it was because it was just so good? Unless of course you don’t actually like it. In which case, sorry about that…

      Like

  5. lazylauramaisey
    11th November 13

    Fabulous! Will you bring me a damp crumpled balance sheet too?

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      11th November 13

      Glad you enjoyed it. Even though there was no tits, cock or muff.

      As I’m no longer there I’m not sure… Though I’ll speak to Flembo and get back to you.

      Like

      • lazylauramaisey
        12th November 13

        Thanks. You can always just write some crap on a peice of paper and tell me it’s a balance sheet. I’d probably believe you. If you wrote about tits, cock or muff, it’d probably be better though.

        Like

  6. nancytex2013
    11th November 13

    Is it wrong that I kinda wish you had gone the coughing route and ended up sharting in your pants?

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      11th November 13

      Ha. I’m sure you’re not the only one who was hoping that might have happened. You might recall that I mentioned shitting myself in KFC on my ‘about’ page..?

      Well that’s kind of what happened on that occasion. Though I’m afraid I’m saving that story for my book of shorts.

      Nevertheless, I’m glad you liked the story.

      Like

      • anonymousapathetic
        11th November 13

        Better than saving those shorts for your book of stories – that’d be a pretty crappy thing to do to your readers.

        Like

        • Sean Smithson
          11th November 13

          Wonderful. I love it! And yes, that would be an awful thing to do…

          Like

  7. butimbeautiful
    11th November 13

    Classic office moment! Although, if it had been me, I would’ve just said ‘Sorry I need to go to the toilet – big lunch.”

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      11th November 13

      In hindsight, yes, that’s probably what I should’ve done. Luckily, that never happened again.

      Like

  8. sozsatire
    11th November 13

    Wickedly funny stuff Sean. Thoroughly enjoyed it from the initial telltale rumblings to the voluminous first botty burp followed by the violent “dropping the kids off at the pool” finale Well done!…so to speak.

    PS Thank you also for your continued support for my own humble blog my friend. It hasn’t gone unnoticed or unappreciated mate.

    Regards

    Clive.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      11th November 13

      Thank you sir. I too appreciate your support.

      Do let me know when you get round to releasing your book. And maybe one day, when I actually have some money again, I can buy it.

      Like

  9. lexborgia
    11th November 13

    Squeeky-bum-time indeed. Isn’t it strange that everyone pretends or attempts to hide the fact that they do empty their bowels!! Better to have it happen in the Office than on a bus, eh!

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      11th November 13

      Indeed my friend. It’s definitely something certain people are unwilling to ever talk about.

      Incidentally, is there a story in that bus comment?

      Like

  10. honeydidyouseethat?
    11th November 13

    OMG! And you never ever ate fried food again. Right?? 🙂

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      11th November 13

      Are you mad? A world with no fried food..?

      I just made sure never to eat a meal that was intended for 5 before seeing another client…

      Like

  11. intothebeauty
    11th November 13

    Hahaha!

    You always make me giggle at work. Thank GOD people have stopped asking me why I’m laughing at my desk solo dolo.

    P.S. giving birth to a manatee baby calf 😀 hahaha I can’t even deal.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      11th November 13

      Why thank you Lara. Though I can’t believe you can access the site at work? It’s blocked at my old firm!

      Yeah, I just felt that manatees are often neglected. Of course, I’m not sure that their species would’ve been enthralled with the reference here.

      Like

      • intothebeauty
        12th November 13

        Hah right! I work for a small company. All the internets is free for my viewing pleasure! I love it. I couldn’t even access google at my last job.

        Like

  12. spincyclediaries
    11th November 13

    So good!

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      11th November 13

      Thank you very much. As I was saying above, I was worried how it might be received given it’s break away from the ‘norm’… But it seems that people like to read about almost shitting your pants?

      Like

  13. Christyherself
    12th November 13

    I know this is probably not the best comment to make, but it makes me feel better knowing I’m not the only person this happens to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sean Smithson
      12th November 13

      Ha. Wonderful, wonderful. It happens to us all. Well done for being brave enough to admit to it!

      Like

  14. penelope lake
    12th November 13

    Oh Smithson.. this almost makes me want to post a story. But I won’t. Thanks for posting yours!

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      12th November 13

      No, no. Post yours. I insist. We can bask in one another’s humiliation!

      Like

  15. lifeconfusions
    12th November 13

    Hahaha…Shit…literally !
    Loved the “Drop it like its hot” , Gonna use this phrase more often now!
    Man you are awesome! 😀

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      12th November 13

      I’m sure Snoop never thought it would get used that way… But at least you like it.

      Thanks for the kind words.

      Like

  16. charlypriest
    12th November 13

    As I started reading I was about to ask you to do my tax returns but at the end I had second thoughts and thirds.
    Had a laugh with that exchange with Junior, “no I don get `the feeling´that is what we do.”

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      12th November 13

      Ha. Thanks man. Glad you enjoyed this one.

      And I’m more than happy to look at your tax returns!

      Like

  17. evolution
    12th November 13

    Hahahaha a pooh story definitely worthy of sharing. Glad you made it to the gents in time!! 😉

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      13th November 13

      You and me both! Pleased you enjoyed it. And thanks for leaving a comment. I really do appreciate it.

      Like

  18. cpmandara
    13th November 13

    You can’t win ’em all. Take comfort from the fact that Mr Jenkins wasn’t a 6ft Blond Babe and that not all that much was lost with his departure…

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      13th November 13

      This is true Christina. However I would probably be more alarmed to see her in the gents than the other way round…

      Like

  19. juststoplooking
    18th November 13

    You have a magical gift of telling a story that makes a person feel like they were there. Although. . in this instance I’m glad I wasn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sean Smithson
      18th November 13

      Thank you so much Elizabeth or Caroline. I was really struggling with a new story when your comment came through… Unfortunately I’m still struggling but your comment has definitely lifted my spirits.

      And yes, it was probably for the best that the only witness to the crime was Mr Jenkins… Nice to see you back by the way.

      Like

  20. juststoplooking
    18th November 13

    Hopefully your writer’s block dissipates soon. The world needs your humor and outlook on life Sean Smithson.

    I’m glad to be back. Like I said, it has been a long and exhausting four months. I hope all is well with you across the Atlantic.

    -Caroline

    Like

  21. skinnyuz2b
    19th November 13

    You sound like a great tax man, and you’re not full of shit. At least not anymore.

    Like

  22. Pingback: It started with Fjaroabyaggo | lazylauramaisey

  23. The Hook
    19th January 14

    Way to focus, buddy!
    Loved this!

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      19th January 14

      Thanks man. For some reason people seem to prefer my turd stories to the ones about sex..?

      Like

  24. The Indecisive Eejit
    5th March 14

    I’m on the train ffs….the train and this, well it made me laugh so hard I almost shart! You’re a bad influence Smithson lol

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      5th March 14

      I almost sharted when I read your comment.

      Like

    • Sean Smithson
      5th March 14

      By the way, you probably shouldn’t read the two stories before this one then. They also rank quite highly on the sharts. See what I did there?

      Like

  25. Blossom Brouillard
    5th March 14

    At least you know where to go if you’re ever blocked. This is your second bout with “KFC Fallout”. Right? I haven’t been to KFC in years, but now I wonder if it’s KFC or the UK version of KFC?

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      5th March 14

      Quite right Blossom. Though this was more immitation KFC than the real thing. And was also a result of me being a complete pig rather than taking on something too spicy… I assure you the UK version is just as good (or bad depending on your perspective) as the one in the US.

      Like

  26. The Howling Fantogs
    6th March 14

    What’s wrong with us? Why are shit stories so funny?

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      6th March 14

      Now do you mean stories involving poo or badly told stories?

      Like

      • The Howling Fantogs
        6th March 14

        Hmm, should probably rephrase that. I don’t think you have much experience in the second option.

        Like

  27. Shelley
    6th March 14

    I’m hoping you’re too busy signing your new book to write??? 🙂

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      6th March 14

      Ha. I wish! Though the lack of new material has been a result of putting the finishing touches on it… I’m hoping to have some (good) news about it next week.

      Have fun at the tennis.

      Like

  28. Daniel Nest
    6th March 14

    I salute you for sharing your hilarious embarrassment with the rest of us. That sounds like a sitcom coming to life!

    The question is…what did Mr. Jenkins decide on afterwards?

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      6th March 14

      This was nothing compared to the third date story… Believe me.

      Thanks though man. Glad you enjoyed it. And as for Jenkins, I never heard from him again.

      Like

  29. Marie
    6th March 14

    Did you ditch the annoying background image you had? I much prefer this. I get easily distracted. The proof of this is I could barely read this post I just kept wondering when the background or your usual header would pop up (I used the terms head and pop and up in the same sentence now I’m even more distracted).

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      6th March 14

      Ha. Don’t pull your punches Marie! Though yes, in answer to your question, I did.

      Well actually, Curious Emily – https://seansmithson.com/2014/02/25/smithson-vs-curious-the-ones-that-got-away/ – kind of ‘suggested’ I should get rid of it on account of it being completely irrelvant and very distracting. So you should really be thanking her.

      Sorry that you still couldn’t actually get into the post as I think you may have enjoyed it. Though I do commend you on your use of head and pop up.

      By the way, I’ve noticed you haven’t been around as much (I thought for sure you’d contribute to the sex acronyms post). Hopefully now that the red phone boxes have all gone that will change…

      Like

      • Marie
        7th March 14

        You’re right. I’m totally glad I came back and read it again. Sounds to me like you were totally unbalanced (I’m feeling like Austin Powers in my sense of humor style here). One wonders why the thought never crossed your mind to actually say “Will you excuse me for a second, my stomach is unsettled.” but if you had, then this story would have been so dreary. Maybe you were preparing for your next career?

        p.s. taxes? My dad was a fiscal analyst for the Canadian taxing system. He was actually so passionate about his job. I so never got it as a child that when asked what my dad did for a living I told people he drove a taxi. He nearly got a heart attack when I told him that. He’s dead now, from his heart. It was probably my fault…

        Like

  30. mollytopia
    7th March 14

    Omg this is devastating and hilarious! So did he become a client???? Beautifully told – I was cringing throughout : )

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      7th March 14

      Thank you kindly Molly. Though I do apologise for the visuals. Ha. No, we never heard from him again. I can’t really blame him though.

      Like

  31. List of X
    7th March 14

    If I were Mr. Jenkins, I would have assumed that your firm uses printed balance sheets as toilet paper.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      7th March 14

      That’s actually quite a good idea man. And it would certainly improve knowledge internally across all departments. As the only people who read those things (aside from Jenkins) are from Finance and Management.

      Like

      • List of X
        7th March 14

        Well, if you do use the balance sheets for toilet paper, that would give a whole new meaning to the phrase “fudging the numbers” 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sean Smithson
          7th March 14

          Ooooh. I like it man. I like it A LOT.

          Like

          • List of X
            7th March 14

            I think you can use it next time you need to leave a meeting: “Excuse me, I’ll need to go fudge some numbers”

            Like

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This entry was posted on 4th February 14 by in Frat-Pack Favourites and tagged , , , , , , , .
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