December 30, 2013
We Are Internal Auditors
(A concept based on "The Children
" by Julie Otsuka, published in issue #115 of Granta magazine.)
We wake up in our room. We wake up in a hotel room. We wake up at our desk having fallen asleep at the computer. We wake up on the couch. We wake up on the floor. The alarm clock wakes us up. The cold wakes us up. The heat wakes us up. We wake up early. We oversleep. We turn on the light. We turn off the alarm. We shower. We bathe. We brush our teeth. We blow-dry our hair. We towel-dry our hair. We comb our hair. We gel our hair. We leave our hair the way it is. We wish we still had hair. We eat breakfast. We skip breakfast. We just grab some juice. We eat a doughnut that we know we shouldn't. We climb on the treadmill. We read the paper. We watch the morning news. We check our messages/our blackberries/our smartphones/our e-mail. We dress for success. We dress for business casual. We dress for jeans day. We dress for Hawaiian shirt day. We grab the hotel bill from under the door. We use express checkout. We checkout at the front desk. We kiss our wife/husband/kids/dog/cats goodbye.
We walk out and find we have a flat tire, we find the battery is dead, we find there is a transit strike, we find our car has been stolen, we find that it's such a nice day we want to go back in the house and call in sick. It is snowing. It is raining. It is sunny. It is windy. It is foggy. It is hot. It is cold. We climb in the car/the truck/the cab/the bike/the bus/the carpool. We walk to work. We are almost hit by a car that runs a red light. We almost hit someone when we run a red light. The trip to work is uneventful. We bump into someone in the crosswalk. We have no idea who the person is. We recognize the person from work. We recognize the person as a long, lost friend from grade school. We apologize to the person. We talk to the person. Wehug the person. We ignore the person. We slip on the ice, on the snow, in the water. We trip over our own feet. We wish we had brought a heavy jacket. We wish we had left the jacket at home. We stop for coffee/a doughnut/a bagel/hot tea. We're running late so there's no time for coffee/a doughnut/a bagel/hot tea.
We go into our office/cubicle/work area. We go to the cramped room the auditee has provided for us to complete our work. There are phone messages. The phone is ringing. The phone is not working. We turn on the computer. We check the phone messages. We delete the phone messages. We read the e-mails. We send e-mails. We edit e-mails. We ignore e-mails. We delete e-mails. We delete our inbox. We delete the file containing our e-mail history. We say hello to our co-workers. We say hello to the auditees. We open a spreadsheet/word document/presentation. We find the file is corrupt. We find we actually got more done yesterday than we remembered. We start our testing. We start our interviews. We start our report. We start our opening meeting. We start our exit meeting. We start reviewing completed workpapers. We take a break for more coffee. We take a break for water. We avoid the things we aren't supposed to eat on breaks. We break down and eat what we aren't supposed to. We grab a quick apple/orange/power bar/doughnut/bagel/piece of cake from yesterday's celebrations/candy bar/piece of toast/toaster waffle. We get interrupted by an auditee who wants to complain about the auditors. We get interrupted by an auditee who wants to talk about a potential control issue. We get interrupted by an auditee who thinks he may have a potential fraud. We get interrupted by an auditee who wants to confess to a fraud. We get interrupted by an auditee who wants to thank us for our help. We get interrupted by an employee who has a personal issue/question about an audit/funny joke/collection going for a birthday-wedding-anniversary-retirement present. We get interrupted by a manager who wants to talk about our performance/has a question about our audit/wants to tell us a funny joke/wonders why we have so many celebrations for birthdays-weddings-anniversaries-retirements.
We have lunch. We skip lunch. We go out to lunch for Fred's/Betty's/George's/Lisa's birthday-wedding-anniversary-retirement. We get back early. We get back late. We don't come back from lunch. We go to meetings. We set meetings. We forget meetings. We skip meetings. We meet about meetings. We live on coffee/cola/sugar/things we don't want our employer to know about. We listen to NPR/Fox/Pandora/our ipod on our headphones. We enjoy the silence. We feel there are just too many people in the office. We feel alone in the office. We are thankful for the camaraderie. We tune out everything going on around us. We often wonder if anyone even knows we are there. We often wonder if anyone even knows the department exists. We often wonder if anyone even reads our e-mails/memos/reports/analysis. We often wonder if some other company is hiring. We often wonder if there is not somewhere else in the company we should be working. We often wonder how anyone could want to work anywhere else. We know we're only in the department for a short time. We know we're only with the company for a short time. We know we have found the profession that will define us. We hope none of our friends finds out we have sold our souls to the corporation. We hope our friends are envious of the great job and profession we have.
We drive/walk/ride home. We kiss our wife/husband/kids/dog/cats hello. We work late into the night. We never turn on the computer, coming through on our promise to start leaving work at the workplace. We meet with friends. We play with the kids. We read. We watch television. We go to a movie. We visit the neighbors. We do yard work. We go to restaurant. We have a date. We spend the night alone. We have a frozen dinner. We meet the boss at a fancy restaurant. We grab fast food. We eat at the hotel bar. We have room service. We meet with the auditee who tries to pay for dinner and we accept/we decline. We fall asleep early. We work late and never even get to sleep. We call home. We try to fall asleep and can't. We sleep like a rock. We toss and turn with the thoughts of today and the problems of tomorrow in our heads.
We wake to repeat our daily grind. We wake to find a way to make the daily grind different. We wake with the resolution that everything will change. We wake knowing that we enjoy what we have and don't want to change it. We wake to find we are the same we have been/different than we have been/the same as those around us/different than those around us.
We are internal auditors.