Director of Human Resources to Ted Lawrence, March 2006

Intensive Quickbooks Pro training

Dear Ted,

We have received your full report explaining your absence from work between February 28th and March 17th. I’m not really sure why you thought the company had a “Spring Training” program in Miami, or why you flew down there and stayed even after you must have noticed you were the only one there. It does explain the many receipts we’ve received, and the constant calls from American Express asking if we were buying suntan lotion and neon swim trunks on corporate card F.

Obviously, this is a tough time of year for accountants, and we do agree we want our team in top condition for the upcoming filing rush. Still, I’m not convinced this “Spring Training” program you embarked on would actually help. When you say you had “2 hours of fielding drills per day,” what does that mean? You were practicing fielding questions from clients? You were studying up on different tax incentives for workers in different fields? I would think any sort of study like that could be done on-site.

Finally, I find it hard to believe that you “sustained a blister” on your “primary calculating finger,” which will keep you out of action for “2-3 weeks.” It’s great that you think you’ll be ready for “opening day,” whatever that is, but we’ll need to see a doctor’s note. We do not have a “disability list” to put you on, and I wouldn’t even know what it means to “call someone up from the farm team” to fill in for you.

Please respond this time,

Kenneth Vogelberg

HR Director, Seven Seas Accounting

Analysis:

While the concept of spring training has been around since the early days of baseball, it has not spread very far into other sectors of the economy. During the late-1920s, managers at Standard Oil would take a month in Florida to “brush up on the latest price gouging techniques.” Also, for a brief period in the mid-1980s Ronald Reagan’s cabinet spent 6 weeks in the Cayman Islands working on budgetary exercises to get in shape for the upcoming Congressional session. These programs were quickly ended, and today it is rare for any company not organized for the express purpose of playing baseball against similarly minded firms to take spring training.

That said, many accounting houses, especially corporate accounting firms, have a tradition akin to spring training. All of the senior members will take their most important clients to Florida, where they charter a boat to international waters. There, they can safely perform their most egregious accounting tricks while simultaneously taking advantage of the standard “cocaine and potentially¬†underage¬†prostitutes” activities that international waters are known for. Enron’s “S.S. Suck It, Poors” is the most famous such boat.

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