The end of the month is crunch time for an accountant. Making sure all activity has been posted to the books; making sure all cash transactions have been entered. All month-long an accountant’s goal is a smooth month end. We strive for it.
I’ve been working as an accountant for the past six years and am familiar with the month end craziness. Because of that, I’ve created positive work habits to help manage my time effectively so that I’m not booking all of the entries on the last day of the month. I check my bank accounts daily so I can book activity as it happens. I do my accruals as soon as all of the payable invoices and receipts have been entered. I know what a pain in the ass month end can be and my goal is NOT to work late, so I make sure to have my shit taken care of. Which is why I always have my monthly financial packages ready one week prior to the due date. I want my supervisor to review them with plenty of time to correct any mistakes or catch anything that I’ve missed. In my opinion, that’s just being a conscientious, good accountant. However, I’d been grappling with an inner-dialogue in recent months that I wanted more from my life, that I wasn’t living my “best” life, that accounting and “Corporate America” were literally crushing my soul and depleting my spirit.
My mother died in 2016 at 65 and put into perspective how short life truly is. I watched her struggle my whole life, never following her dreams, choking on her silence and I knew I wanted to do my life a different way, breaking the chain of sorrow and regret.
I started taking a meditation/mindfulness class because I wanted to connect with myself on a deeper level. I started taking a writing class, something I was truly passionate about. I remembered that as a little girl I dreamed of becoming a writer someday; those memories had been buried under the need for survival as I grew up and had been waiting patiently for me to rekindle the smoldering flame of my dreams.
In my writing class, there are weekly prompts, the most recent being a 15-minute exercise on the #metoo movement. I wrote about an incident that happened to me when I was 15 years old. It was hard to write, but I was willing to be vulnerable and share my experience with the class in this safe space. The class responded, and while they hated what happened to me, they liked the way it was written and that I had the courage to share it. My teacher, Elizabeth, asked me to send her a copy of my prompt because she wanted to share it with the editor of Feminine Collective – Elizabeth thought it should be published and shared with others.
A seed had been planted and was being watered and cared for diligently.
In the meantime, I continued working my day job as a full-time accountant. And the month end for October rolled around and was no different than the rest. I was a Property Accountant for a large third-party Property Management firm. I’d been working there for three months and felt pretty confident in my portfolio and work.
I’d been assigned as the accountant for the new residential property we had just taken on for a big, high-profile client. October would be the first month that we would be preparing the financial package for the owner and I wanted to make sure everything was correct. I wanted to do my best and be the best and prove that I am a great accountant. I had to create the financial package for this property from scratch.
The prior management company sent me what they used to send this owner, and it was garbage, in my humble accountant opinion. I had to convert everything over so that it looked like our professional package. I did the best I could, and I sent it to MP, the controller, my supervisor who works out of the northern California office, my usual week ahead of the due date for her to review. I wanted there to be plenty of time to review and make changes since this was the first impression the owner would have of our work. On Tuesday 10/24 I sent her my work. And I waited. And waited. And waited.
I heard nothing from her for days. Now, keep in mind that I was used to waiting for MP to review my financials. I would send her the packages for all of my other properties a week in advance and was used to not hearing from her until the day before they were due. And usually, it wasn’t a problem because either nothing needed to be adjusted or there was some minor correction she wanted done. So I wasn’t worried.
Halloween. Tuesday, 10/31/17. Due date. We are having a Halloween costume contest, and a food truck was coming to serve us lunch. There is a DJ playing “Dead Man’s Party” and tables full of candy and sweets everywhere. I’m dressed as a Purple M&M because the accounting department decided to do a group costume, and we are all different color M&Ms. I send Monica a picture of her Accounting Team, and she replies “Cute.” But no word on the financial package due that day.
My normal work hours are 7:30-4:30; this in an attempt to avoid some traffic on my commute from Sherman Oaks to Beverly Hills (which is laughable in and of itself because there is no avoiding traffic in LA). I get a call at 4:29 pm from MP, one minute before I’m to leave for the day.
“I’m just reviewing the financials package, and it’s totally wrong. We need to fix this.” She says.
I don’t have anything planned for this Halloween evening, so I’m ok staying an hour or two to fix whatever needs to be corrected. Then I start getting a barrage of emails from MP.
This is wrong. That’s not accrued for. Where is this data? We’re missing information. Check this.
One hour goes by. Two. Three. Four.
By 10:30 pm (14 hours worked that day), I’m in tears. I’m frustrated. I’m mad. I’ve reached the point where I’ve disassociated from my mind, and I can’t even do accounting anymore. The numbers are running together. I’ve forgotten what needs to be done. I’m a mess. At 11:30, (now 15 hours worked that day), MP calls me on my work phone. I answer in tears.
“What’s wrong?” she asks.
“I am so frustrated right now, and it’s 11:30 at night (sniffle, sniffle),” I reply.
“Well, at least now you’ve learned your lesson not to send me financials packages to review before you’ve received your bank statement.”
I’m dumbfounded. Learned my lesson? WTF is that supposed to mean? Is this some kind of punishment? She doesn’t have the right to teach me a lesson. Who does she think she is? So now I’m pissed on top of everything else.
This particular owner requires us to go into their database to do our adjustments, journal entries, etc. They close the month to all transactions on the last day of each month once all users are logged out. So I had to stay and continue working to get this all resolved. I couldn’t leave it for the next day, November 1, because the second I logged out of the system, October would be closed and there would be nothing we could do to correct or adjust any information.
I stayed at the office until 2 am; that was an 18-hour day. The cleaning crew had come and gone. The security guard was gone. I was totally alone in that building. I drove home, arriving around 2:30 am and had to log back into my work computer because I got an email saying MP hadn’t received something I’d emailed to her.
I’m so tired, and I finally get to sleep. My alarm goes off at 6:30 am. It’s Wednesday, and that means I have to drive to Pasadena to work onsite with the staff at the new property. I’m there at 8:30 like I’m supposed to be. I log into my computer to 10 new emails from Monica with things she needs me to do. I’ve got three emails from another property manager asking me for information she immediately needs because she’s dropped the ball, again, and needs me to rescue her. Then I get a text message from Elizabeth.
“Julie posted your article! Here’s the link!”
I click on the link she sent and there, in print, is my name. Meghan Cipolla. My article, “Violated.” People have already read it! People are liking it and leaving comments.
“You’re so courageous for sharing this.”
“Thank you for telling your story.”
My words have touched people. The message I wanted to get across IS being received. It was then that I realized I was most definitely not living the life I truly wanted. My life does have a higher purpose, and I’m destined for so much more than accruals and bank statements.
I packed up my belongings and drove from Pasadena to Beverly Hills (no small feat at 10 am).I felt so calm and so certain in my decision that the traffic jam I was stuck in didn’t phase me. I was so confident in what I was about to do, the change I was about to make, the stand I was about to take that I felt a total sense of peace and purpose.
I arrived at the office and quietly started to clean out my desk. Someone asked me what I’m doing there since they know that I am usually in Pasadena on Wednesday mornings. I just say I needed to pick a few things up. I leave my work computer, parking pass, and key card on my desk. And I walk out with my head held high and no goodbyes.
When I get to my car, I send an email to MP;
“This email will serve as my official notice of resignation, effective immediately.”
She doesn’t call me. We only have a short email exchange.
Her reply is “While I understand you need to do what you feel is best for you, I would like the opportunity to speak with you.”
I reply to her with “I have been considering this for some time, and after an 18-hour day, an hour and a half commute ONE WAY, the decision to part ways with the company has become clear to me.”
She says “While I understand, I’d still like the opportunity to speak with you.”
To which I respond “While I understand you’d like the opportunity to speak with me, my decision remains final.”
There was a quiet assuredness and self-possession I hadn’t felt since I left my husband eight years ago (a story for another day). I’ve been free from the corporate rat race and cubicle prison for two weeks, and I am so proud that I took a stand. I had the courage to believe in my dreams and to take a leap of faith, betting on myself.
I choose to do my life a different way, to nurture and foster the dreams of my youth and to follow my passion. I am excited about this next chapter of my life and the adventure that unfolds before me. It is a journey that I can direct and follow, and I am thrilled for what comes next.