There are two books on my office shelf that mean a great deal to me, but I never read them. Sure, I might flip through the pages once in a while, but I don’t use them for reference. They are horribly outdated.
One is titled Accountants’ Handbook, published in 1956. The other is Principles of Accounting – Advanced, published in July 1955. My Grandpa signed the inside cover of the latter with the date 8/21/1957.
Inside the books are several bookmarks. Grandpa used none other than ten-key printouts, something that has gone the way of the dinosaurs these days. I recently gave away my ten-key to another employee since I never used it. Whenever I have to add up numbers, I use Excel.
The books also contain a number of examples of how to complete preprinted forms such as a materials requisition and a cash disbursement journal, which in my world have become antiques. The last time I had to deal with these paper forms was in my Accounting class in high school, since it’s all done through computer software these days.
The books’ antiquity is interesting, but their sentimental value is that they were Grandpa’s. He never taught me anything about Accounting that I can recall, but he defined what an accountant was in my eyes at a young age. When I was in elementary school barely learning basic math, Grandpa would challenge me with something more difficult. His favorite trick would be to ask me an addition or subtraction problem that would go beyond the century mark, for example, 96 plus 7.
As I got older, the questions got tougher. I remember one in particular:
Three friends eat in a restaurant, and the bill is $25. They pay $10 each, and get $5 back in change. Since they can’t split the $5 three ways, each of them keep $1 and give the waiter a $2 tip. So, each of the men paid $9 (10-1), a total of $27. The waiter kept $2. 27 + 2 = 29. From the $30 they paid, where did the other dollar go?
Grandpa laughed as I thought this one out loud, as if he knew the answer and wasn’t going to give it to me.
Impressed with my Grandpa’s number-crunching abilities, I thought that accountants must be really smart. I also admired his kindness, patience, and constant encouragement. There are many reasons why I chose Accounting for my career, and my Grandpa’s influence is one of them.
Grandpa passed away many years ago, but I am reminded of him every day when I pass the two old books as I make my way to my desk.