George stood on the roof of the 20-story Bedford Company. It was where he had first thought about jumping, and it is where he had stopped Clarence from climbing over the railing. George closed his eyes, laid his head against that railing, and began pleading. "Clarence, Clarence, help me. Clarence, get me back. I don't care if they haul me away for issuing that audit committee report. Just get me back to my auditors. Help me Clarence. I wanna be an auditor again. Please, let me be an auditor again."
He heard a rustling sound and looked up. The security guard was coming up behind him. "Hey, George – George. You all right? Hey, what's the matter?"
George was stunned, ready to fight off the man who had, just before, refused his admittance to the building. "Watch out, Bert, or I'll hit you again, stand back." But then George realized what Bert had said. "Wait, Bert? Do you know me?"
Bert looked surprised. "Know you? Huh. You kiddin'? I've been looking all over the office trying to find you. I saw your laptop had crashed and I thought maybe you – hey, you've got paper cuts on your hands. Are you sure you're all right?"
George looked down at his hands. "Ha, ha, ha, ha! My hands are cut, Bert! Zuzu's workpapers..." He checked in the pockets of his coat. "There they are! Bert, what do you know about that! Zuzu's workpapers. Merry Christmas!"
George jumped up, hugged the bewildered Bert, dashed through the doors and headed down the stairs. Bert waved at the disappearing figure. "Well, Merry Christmas, George."
George leapt down the stairs two at a time, burst through the door, and began running down the halls. "Hello Bedford & Sons! Merry Christmas." George shouted out as he passed the things he thought he had lost.
"Merry Christmas, Accounting!" He dashed through the department recalling how his report on strengthening financial controls had stopped the company from laying off half the accounting staff.
"Merry Christmas, Risk & Compliance!" The task force aligning the work of their departments had helped provide stronger governance for the entire company.
"Merry Christmas Ms. Pettifogger." His investigation had not only cleared Ms. Pettifogger from suspicion of dipping into petty cash (everyone else in the company had believed it was true and were ready to have her fired), but also proved that the actual culprit was one of Mr. Potter's hand-picked cronies.
Mr. Potter, the CEO of Bedford, Co. hadn't liked that at all. In fact, even though George didn't realize it, Mr. Potter was why George was in trouble now. It was Mr. Potter who had ensured that all the documentation George needed had disappeared.
He ran by Mr. Potter's office and yelled, "Merry Christmas Mr. Potter." Mr. Potter shouted back "Happy New Year to you...in the unemployment line. Go on up to your office; they're waiting for you." But George never heard a word; he just continued down the halls.
Finally, he reached the audit department. The first thing he saw when he entered the office was a group of somber men in dark, three-piece suits. Without hesitation he walked up and shook hands. "Well, hello Mr. Sarbanes-Oxley Commissioner."
"Mr. Bailey," the gentleman said. "There's an irregularity."
"Yes, I know", George answered as he shook each and every hand, "You can't find support for any of my findings and I'm being accused of falsifying the audit committee report. And I'll bet you have some paperwork for me. You're going to decertify my CIA and I'm going to be fired. Isn't it wonderful? Merry Christmas!"
Just then, his assistant came running up. "George, the most wonderful thing is happening. Follow me." She led him into the conference room. "It's a miracle. Wait here." She ran to the door. "Come in everybody."
All of George's co-workers – all of George's friends – began pouring through the door. Each and every one with an affidavit – documents that supported every word he had said in the audit committee reports. The original paperwork had been destroyed, the computers crashed, there was absolutely nothing left to support a single finding. And yet, here were all the people he had worked with – the fellow employees he had audited and reported on and joined together with to make a better company – ready to support internal audit and its Chief Audit Executive.
As the crowd grew and grew, George looked down at the documentation and noticed a book – a copy of the most recent standards. Inside it was signed. "Dear George – Remember no auditor is a failure who adds value. Thanks for the certification, Clarence."
Just then, a printer began printing out a report. The newest auditor in the department turned to George and said, "The facilitator in my IIA Tools and Techniques for Beginning Auditors course said that, every time a final report is printed out, an auditor gets his certification."
George looked to the ceiling, winked, and said, "That's right, that's right. Attaboy, Clarence."
George knew that, after all, it really was a wonderful audit career.