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Bob Newhart Experiences Legalistic Accounting

I took a job as an accountant in downtown Chicago. As your basic 9-to-5 bookkeeper, my duties included managing the petty cash. Salesmen would come in from the road and turn in their receipts. I'd give them cash and put the receipts in the petty-cash drawer. At the end of the day, I'd have to reconcile what was in the drawer with the receipts. It was always close, but it never balanced. At five o'clock, when everybody else was leaving the office, I'd be tearing my hair out because petty cash was short by $1.48. Around 8 p.m., I'd find the discrepancy.

I followed this routine for a couple weeks. Finally, one day, I pulled the amount I was short from my pocket—$1.67—put it in the drawer, and called it a day. Not long after, the petty cash drawer was over by $2.11. So I took $2.11 out of petty cash and pocketed that. I was hardly stealing. Inevitably, in the next couple of days, I would be under, and back the money would go.

After several weeks of this, Mr. Hutchinson, head of accounting, discovered my shortcut to balancing petty cash. "George," he lectured me, using my given name, "these are not sound accounting principles."

"You know, Mr. Hutchinson," I said, "I just don't think I'm cut out for accounting. Why would you pay me $6 an hour to spend four hours finding $1.40?"

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