My paternal grandfather was not born in the United States. Actually, he didn't come to America from the old country until he was in his late 20s and already married. He was a tailor and a pretty good one at that. I know this because I remember his arguing with the customers, telling them why he couldn't patch a particular pair of pants. "This fabric is garbage. Throw out and get new pair. It cost you more to fix than worth." (He also co-authored the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People.)

 

I recall too as a child running all over his tailor shop with a yardstick going "Zoom, Zoom, Zoom." Hey, you car company out there, you stole that from me.

 

But again, I digress.

 

Once my grandfather had to see an accountant. I think it had something to do with not filing income tax returns. You see, my grandfather had his own modus operandi. "The IRS has its rules and so do I."

He was stunned when the accountant produced a card that said CPA.

 

"You're in the same business as me?" my grandfather exclaimed.

 

The accountant looked at him perplexed.

 

"C.P.A. Right there. I see it. Me too. I am also a C.P.A."

 

The practitioner kept staring.

 

Now I only bring this up when I see what is happening in today's wonderful and wacky world of accounting. Throw in Enron, the AICPA, global credentials, and everything else that my colleagues have been writing about in this column for the past millennium and don't you begin to wonder whether the appellation is correct? I mean, the way the accounting profession has gotten slammed recently, you begin to question whether it might be better for practitioners to open a little corner tailor shop, take in some laundry, and really do the CPA some justice.

 

Of course, looking at Enron, the acronym is right on the money but I still love to hear it: C is for cleaning. Oh boy, did those books ever get cleaned! Pressing? Sure, talk about hiding moolah. And Alterations. You mean as in Andersen?

 

Hey, my own accountant has a special for this week only. 95 cents for shirts provided, of course, you bring in $450 worth of cleaning. Seems reasonable. Know who he used to work for?

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