Audit Oddities

List of Plays

A Musical Comedy in One Act by William Armstrong

Scene One
It is early 1977 in the accounting department of Acme Co. The auditorís room is on stage right. It is furnished with two tables and three chairs. Louise is seated there, talking (silently) on the telephone. Two desks are on stage left. Karen is seated at the downstage desk. Bob enters down left sipping his coffee crosses right of Karenís desk.
KAREN
Good morning, Bob.
BOB
'Morning, Karen. You know, I finally figured out why the coffee here at Acme tastes like mud.
KAREN
Why?
BOB
It was just ground this morning.
Bob laughs at his own joke. Then he points out Louise with a little sideways toss of his head.
BOB
Rumor has it that we have a woman auditor this year. Whatís her name?
KAREN
Sheís Louise.
BOB
Sheez Louise? Thatís what they always say when the auditors show up. Sheez Louise! How appropriate.
Bob sits at his desk (the upstage one) and starts to work. Louise concludes her phone call. Jenny enters d. l. and crosses to Louise.
JENNY
It must be a sign of the '70s. In all the years Iíve been the Accounting Manager here at Acme, this is the first time our CPA firm sent us a woman auditor. But the really remarkable thing about you is that youíre here before 9 o'clock in the morning.
LOUISE
Itís not my idea, Jenny. We have such a tight schedule, weíll be hard pressed to get your 1976 financial report out on time.
JENNY
What can I do?
Louise picks up a paper and hands it to Jenny.
LOUISE
Can you show us this group of vouchers and get a listing out of the computer?
JENNY
I can pull the vouchers, but Data Processing will have to run the report. Have you talked to Dirk about it?
LOUISE
No, I guess Iíve been avoiding Data Processing recently because of Dirkís overactive hormones.
JENNY
Ah, yes. Dirk is Acmeís self-appointed Casanova. All that pinching and leering - it must come from working with computers all day. You know how some people come up behind you, put their hands over your eyes, and say, "Guess who?" Well, Dirk is the type who grabs you a little lower [indicating her bust line] and says, "Guess what?"
LOUISE
I can see you understand my problem. Speak of the devil...
DIRK enters.
DIRK
Good morning, ladies.
JENNY
Hi, Dirk, how are you?
DIRK
Marvelous. Marvelous. I woke up this morning. I felt like an eighteen-year-old... but I couldnít find one. So, I thought Iíd come to work and take my best shot at you, Sweetheart.
Dirk puts his arm around Jenny. Jenny slaps Dirkís chest with the paper in her hand as she says...
JENNY
Down boy! Louise needs to get you -
DIRK
[interrupting] Sheís got me, [to Louise] but be gentle.
JENNY
She needs to get you to print this computer report.
Jenny hands him the paper that Louise gave her. Dirk looks at it.
DIRK
Piece of cake. Weíve got everything in the new database this year, so the auditors wonít have to write up any suggestions for improving our system. Last year the auditors went hog wild. We really got dung.
LOUISE
You mean you got "ding'ed".
DIRK
Look, Louise, I read the recommendation. It was dung. But not this year! Not with our new comprehensive, fully integrated database. Let me tell you...
Dirk sings with high enthusiasm to the tune of Baby Face.
Data base! Weíve got an integrated data base,
And thereís an automated interface in every case.
Man, a deal like thisíll give us every bell and whistle.
Data Base! It has a timeliness we simply canít replace.
Itís like a stroke of fate thatís brought us up to date -
Our astounding data base.

Data base! Youíll love our automated data base.
It guarantees that records wonít erase. Itís got a trace.
We can track a posting every time, and Iím not boasting.
No disgrace! No audit people can complain about this place.
It will delight the souls of those who love controls -
Our amazing data, phased-in data, blazing data base.
LOUISE
Well, Iím glad you have such a great computer system. Iíd appreciate it if youíd get me that stuff.
DIRK
Iíd be happy to show you my stuff anytime, Louise. But now, Iíve got to go, ladies. You know me - Work, Work, Work!
Dirk exits.
LOUISE
Yeah, me, too. My manager will have a conniption if I donít stay on schedule.
JENNY
Fred really is all business, isnít he?
LOUISE
Fred is more than that. Heís an audit manager, a real DITWA.
JENNY
Okay, Iíll bite. Whatís a DITWA?
LOUISE
A DITWA is a Ďdyed-in-the-wool accountantí. You know the type; he thinks the Saturday Evening Post is when you work overtime on the weekend.
JENNY
Right. What really gets me about Fred is the way he always talks in cliches. [mimicking Fred] Where do we stand? Give me the big picture. Are we in the ballpark, schedule-wise? ...or between a rock and a hard place?
LOUISE
[mimicking Fred] I think youíre mixing apples and oranges. Itís an exercise in futility.
JENNY
Where does Fred get that stuff?
LOUISE
From his boss, The Partner [Hallelujah].
Each time Louise says "The Partner", we hear a musical "hallelujah", and she faces the audience reverently.
LOUISE
And speaking of bosses, Iíve got to get back to work. Iíll come by later to discuss the inventory and cost schedules.
Jenny exits. Blackout.
Scene Two
Karen is at her desk as Bob enters, sips his coffee, and passes her desk.
BOB
My doctor told me to give up coffee here at work.
KAREN
He must have tasted it.
BOB
[laughing] I just get so tense.
KAREN
High blood pressure?
BOB
No, itís my foot. I almost broke my toe kicking that stupid coffee machine.
Lights dim on Bob and Karen. Lights up on audit room. Louise is sitting at her table. She is talking to her manager on the telephone. On the opposite side of the work area is a table with some bound papers, stacked documents, computer print-outs, and a 10-key adding machine.
LOUISE
[on the telephone] Fred, you've got to pull this guy Donald off of the Acme audit. He's a nice enough guy, but he doesnít know his asset from a wholesale purchase....
A special case? I Ďd have used the word "basket"....
Oh, good grief! The managing partner's son? They shouldnít let these partners inbreed....
No, I really appreciate the heads-up. If you hadn't told me, I'd have called him ĎThe Prince of Dorknessí to his face. Talk about a career-limiting move! ...
Donít worry. I'll find something for him to do so that his father gets a good report.
Donald enters with a briefcase and sits at the table across from Louise.
LOUISE
[on the telephone] Here he comes now. I'll do the best I can. Bye, bye.
Louise hangs up the phone, stands up, picks up a stack of documents and a computer print-out, and walks over to Donald. She puts the papers down on the table in front of him.
LOUISE
Good morning, Donald.
DONALD
Good morning, Louise.
LOUISE
Shall we get started? This is a stack of vouchers.
DONALD
Um, what are ouchers?
LOUISE
Vouchers.
DONALD
[knowingly] Oh. [to Louise] What are vouchers?
LOUISE
These pieces of paper are vouchers. We're going to prove that the total on this report equals the total of all these vouchers. First youíre going to tie the number on the voucher to the number on the list.
DONALD
I tie it?
LOUISE
Well, you don't tie it like a rope. 'Tie' means that you check to see that the numbers are equal. Think of it like a contest. A tie means the scores are the same.
DONALD
Right. I tie the numbers from the oucher to the list.
LOUISE
Yeah. Then, if the numbers match, you tick off the number on the list.
Donald gives Louise a blank stare.
LOUISE
'Tick off' means that you put a tick mark, a little check mark, next to the number.
DONALD
Ohhh. Check. First I tie. Then I tick.
LOUISE
Right, after you tick off all the numbers, then you foot the list.
DONALD
Is that like 'foot the bill'?
LOUISE
Do you know what 'foot' means?
Donald sheepishly raises his foot and wiggles it questioningly.
LOUISE
'Foot' means that you total it.
Donald smiles because he thinks heís making a clever joke.
DONALD
Last year I totaled my car.
Louise smiles as one would smile at a bossís joke.
LOUISE
You calculate the total. You add up the column.
DONALD
'Foot' is total. Tie, tick, foot.
LOUISE
Right.
DONALD
Is it okay to add down the column?
LOUISE
[frustrated] You can add up the column, or you can add down the column. It doesn't matter. [calming herself] Iíll tell you what. Why don't you try ticking and tying the first couple of vouchers while I'm here to help?
Donald looks at the top voucher and points at the corresponding number on the list. He doesnít do anything else.
LOUISE
Do the numbers match?
DONALD
Yes.
When Donald still does nothing else, Louise prompts Donald to continue.
LOUISE
Ticked off?
DONALD
No, I'm okay with this. Dad said this would be hard, but it's not bad.
LOUISE
Go ahead and check that one off the list. Now, do the next one. Then just keep going.
Donald ticks and ties rapidly. Louise goes back to her desk, sits down, and dials the phone.
LOUISE
[on the telephone] Hello. Personnel, please. This is Louise King. I called earlier about arranging for a cash advance. Iím stretched very thin right now, financially....
Yes, that sounds like my folder....
I was hoping you could make an exception to the policy. You see, the travel - ...
Well, thereís a three-week delay in getting a check - ...
Okay, Iíll talk to The Partner [Hallelujah]. Thank you. Goodbye.
Louise hangs up the phone. She speaks to no one in particular.
Jerks!
Louise sings wistfully to the tune of Alone Again, Naturally.
If the firm wonít change its stance
And allow me a cash advance,
I promised myself to treat myself
And visit household finance.
While climbing to the top, I need a little jack,
But the only sorrow is that when I borrow
Well, I have to pay it back.
They never will forget that my debt is still outstanding.
Theyíll send me dunning notices.
Theyíre really quite demanding.
But, if I canít make out, then I will just take out
A loan again, naturally.

If my wardrobe needs a patch
But Iím running low on scratch,
My innate good taste has to go to waste
'Cuz my bank account doesnít match.
My Mercedes has to wait, and I canít go on a date.
Working overtime for another dime
So I donít get off till late;
And the cash advance I need is the seed to keep me going,
A paddle while Iím up the creek so I can keep on rowing
It doesnít seem so strange. Why canít they just arrange
A loan again, naturally.
During the song Donald finishes ticking and tying. Right after Louise finishes singing, Donald turns to the 10-key. He is phenomenally fast. After a moment Louise takes notice. She is amazed. She rises and drifts over to Donaldís table as he finishes totaling. He looks up at her.
DONALD
The totals arenít the same.
LOUISE
What's the difference?
DONALD
That's what I say! Who cares about the stupid totals anyway?
LOUISE
No, I mean, what's the difference between the two totals?
Donald looks at the adding machine tape and the computer report.
DONALD
The computer report is about a hundred and twelve thousand dollars higher.
LOUISE
Let me see that.
Louise picks up the adding machine tape and compares it to the computer report. She looks puzzled. She puts everything back on the desk.
LOUISE
Youíd better add it again. If it comes out the same next time, weíll have to give it back to the client and have them do it over.
DONALD
Can I go to the menís room first?
LOUISE
Of course, we wouldnít want the audit room smelling like the Legal department, would we?
Donald shuffles off to the restroom. Louise returns to her desk, sits down, and dials the phone.
LOUISE
[on the telephone] Hello, Fred? This is Louise out at Acme. Well, thereís no doubt about it. Donald isnít the sharpest knife in the set, but he can add a column of numbers faster than anyone I've ever seen. Imagine that! The big boss's son being more than a boat anchor. He may actually make a positive contribution to the audit. Hmmm, Iíll have to remember to compliment him on that.
Blackout.
Scene Three
Louise and Donald are working in the auditorsí area (lights down). Karen is at her desk as Bob enters, sips his coffee, and passes her desk.
KAREN
Donít tell me. You need more coffee to keep you awake during all this night work.
BOB
It sure does the trick. But itís not the caffeine; itís the indigestion. It looks like the auditors are working late, too.
DONALD, LOUISE, JENNY, KAREN, and BOB
Lights come up on auditors. Jenny enters singing to the tune of The Lion Sleeps Tonight, and others join in. Donald sings the verses solo.
I work away. I work away. I work away. I work away.
I work away. I work away. I work away. I work away.
At the client, the giant client, the senior works tonight.
At the client, the giant client, the senior works tonight.
I work away. I work away. I work away. I work away.
I work away. I work away. I work away. I work away.
Hush, my partner, donít fear, my partner, the senior works tonight.
Hush, my partner, donít fear, my partner, the senior works tonight.
Lights down on Karen and Bob. Jenny exits. Donald laughs at something he is reading.
LOUISE
What is it, Donald?
DONALD
You abbreviated "liabilities" as "LIA". L - I - A.
LOUISE
Yes.
DONALD
And then you wrote, "Prepaid".
LOUISE
Thatís correct. Liabilities Prepaid. What about it?
DONALD
Well, "Lia Prepaid" is "diaper pail" spelled backwards.
LOUISE
I never noticed that. Thank you for pointing that out. Let me point something out to you. When I said that you couldnít capitalize Research and Development costs, I didnít mean that should put them all in lower case letters.
DONALD
Oh, sorry. This schedule that I footed says that the physical inventories were taken in June and December. Is there any chance we can get them back? Do you think Coyote took them?
LOUISE
No, Donald, Coyote is just one of Acmeís big customers. The inventory wasnít really taken. It was just counted. Donít worry about that. Now, about those vouchers that werenít in balance: did Dirk give you a new report?
DONALD
Yes, and a bigger stack of vouchers.
LOUISE
And did you tie-tick-foot?
DONALD
Iím tick and tie-ered of footing.
Donald smiles and waits for a reaction. Seeing none, he continues.
DONALD (continued)
Anyway, I finished that.
LOUISE
And?
DONALD
So, I need something else to do.
LOUISE
Good. Did the totals match?
DONALD
Everything matched this time.
LOUISE
Wonderful. Sign off on the work program, please.
DONALD
Theyíre a different color.
LOUISE
Whatís a different color?
DONALD
The vouchers that werenít in the first pile. The vouchers that were not there last time are on a different kind of form, the new form.
LOUISE
What do you mean, "the new form"?
DONALD
The form they use now. The other vouchers are on a form they donít use anymore.
LOUISE
Maybe they started using the new form right in the middle of the batch. Were the dates on the new forms after the dates on the old forms?
DONALD
Iíll check.
Donald walks over to the stack of vouchers and compares some.
DONALD
No, they look like theyíre all earlier.
LOUISE
Oh, no. Thatís ...a bad thing.
DONALD
Why is that bad?
LOUISE
It suggests there might be fraud. You see, Donald, clients hire us to verify that theyíre using the right accounting rules. They donít pay us to find out if theyíre cheating.
DONALD
You think someone might be cheating?
LOUISE
Itís possible. If thereís fraud, we have to report it to the SEC.
DONALD
Weíd rather not see the SEC?
LOUISE
No, theyíre sort of the governmentís audit police. If it turns out that these balance problems are just an honest mistake, weíll be okay. But if someoneís cheating, everyone (including us) is going to get hurt.
Louise sings with a pleasant, instructional tone to the tune of Easter Parade.
(Weíre) hiríd by the client
To prove that theyíre compliant
With sound accounting practice and the rules of fair trade.
We donít look for fraud. It
Is not part of the audit.
Itís just to have their statements and procedures Okayed.

People make mistakes, unplanned mistakes,
And the auditors can fix them
When folks donít conspire or behave like a liar. But
If we find a plot, the
Employees who are naughty,
Would make us blow the whistle for an SEC raid.

We should pray to God, there is no fraud,
But we auditors are helpless, and
Youíll find that youíre
Swept away in the furor.
If we find thereís fraud, it
Would devastate the audit,
And wham! The Feds take over in an SEC raid.
LOUISE
[genuinely concerned about Donald] Let me give you some advice, Donald. Youíre new to this audit, and your father is an important man. If you ask him, he would probably assign you to some other company. Then if we discover fraud here at Acme, you wonít get hurt. Well, why donít you go home now? Itís been a long day.
Louise looks at Donald a moment longer than she should and then walks to her desk, sits, and starts to dial the phone. Donald walks behind her as he leaves. He hesitates a moment and almost touches her shoulder, but decides not to. He exits. Blackout.
Scene Four
Bob is sitting at his desk rubbing his foot. Karen comes to her own desk as if arriving in the morning.
KAREN
How are you this morning, Bob?
BOB
Not so good. The coffee machine went haywire again - 25 cents down the drain.
KAREN
Didnít you read the little notice on the side that says, "Do not kick this machine. Call some number, and any money youíve lost will be cheerfully refunded"?
BOB
Yeah, I saw it. I also saw the note scrawled underneath it: "Nobody has that much money!"
Lights up on audit room. Louise is at her table hanging up the phone. Donald walks over to her, but trying in vain to see the seat of his pants.
DONALD
I think I wore out the seat of my pants - Not-With-Standing.
LOUISE
Well, smarty-pants, did you take my advice?
DONALD
I asked Dad about it. He said that he knew about a possible problem at Acme. He said he would move me somewhere else, but I asked him to keep me here.
LOUISE
Why?
DONALD
If I leave, someone else would be sent out, and theyíd get hurt, wouldnít they? And Iíd be the reason they got hurt. It doesnít seem right. Besides, I like you.
Donald says that last line a little too personally, but he catches himself and goes back to business style.
DONALD (continued)
Iíve never had a supervisor who gave me any real work to do ...except you. You explained it to me. You made me into an "auditor". So, win or lose, I want to stay till the end.
LOUISE
Youíre a man of integrity, Donald.
Louise rises and walks toward Donald (already standing). She has a dreamy look on her face. He looks tenderly at her. When they are almost face-to-face, they snap out of it and return to business demeanor.
LOUISE (continued)
Letís settle this question of fraud. I donít like it when clouds hang over us.
DONALD
I donít like it when clowns have hangovers.
LOUISE
[laughs] I think youíre in the wrong business, Donald.
DONALD
I guess thatís a good thing to hear from everyone except your boss.
Louise scoops up the vouchers and crosses left out of the audit room. She and Donald head for Jenny who has just arrived at the desk where Karen is seated.
LOUISE
Jenny, I donít understand why these voucher forms are out of sequence. Why arenít they the same for the whole batch?
JENNY
You mean the batch that Dirk reran for us?
Karen sees the forms and interrupts.
KAREN
Iím sorry. Thatís my fault. Iím the one who got the forms mixed up.
LOUISE
What do you mean?
KAREN
Well, when the new voucher forms came in last spring, I started using them right away. After a couple of weeks, Jenny found out and told me to use up the old forms first. So we switched back to the old forms till they were gone.
LOUISE
So you went from old forms to new forms to old forms to new forms?
KAREN
Right. Thatís why Dirk and his [sarcastically] *amazing data base* messed up that first audit report.
JENNY
That, and his colossal ego.
KAREN
Dirkís list didnít include the vouchers where I jumped-the-gun and used the new forms. He didnít list them; so I didnít include them. Iím really sorry if my mistake caused you any hassle.
LOUISE
Thatís okay. You donít know what a relief it is to have that cleared up. Thanks a million.
DONALD
...or at least a hundred and twelve thousand.
LOUISE
That gives us the green light to submit the final journal run to Data Processing. And this time Iím going to use strict batch control procedures to make sure nothing goes wrong.
Louise sings a pretty waltz to the tune of Matchmaker.
G/L accounting staff, make me a batch.
Total it twice. Prove that they match.
With proper controls we can certainly catch
An error that might arise.

Make it a unit we donít have to patch;
Pull evírything together from scratch.
Fence up the data and latch up the latch.
Forget all the alibis.

Journal vouchers are posted inside the computer somewhere.
With a batch to control them
At least weíll be sure that they all get there.

Batchmaker, batchmaker, make me a batch.
Do it with care, but move with dispatch.
A data control sheet weíll also attach
To prove that the total ties.
Louise attaches the control sheet to the completed batch.
JENNY
Thatís it!
LOUISE
If we can balance the output to this control sheet, weíre home free. Weíll know that 1976 was another all-time record year for Acme.
Jenny exits to deliver the batch to Data Processing. Blackout.
Scene Five
Bob carries his coffee past Karen who is seated at her desk. He stops and opens his mouth to speak but then sits at his desk. He looks around, pulls a flask from his desk, and pours some liquor into the cup. He smiles as he sips the beverage.
Lights come up on the audit room. Louise is on the phone. Donald is packing papers into a trunk. Dirk and Jenny enter and cross to Louise just as she hangs up.
DIRK
Aha, caught you on the phone again, eh? Business or pleasure - or both?
LOUISE
Business, of course.
DIRK
Ah, but what kind of business? You know, this phone number is written on the menís room wall. Itís not what youíre thinking, though. It says, "For a busy signal, call Louise at 5490."
LOUISE
You know, youíre a popular topic on the ladiesí room wall yourself. Theyíve got those hot-air hand dryers in the rest room, and thereís a sign over the dryer that says, "If you want to hear a two-minute speech by Dirk, press this button."
DIRK
Even with remarks like that, Iíll be sorry to see you go. Whatís the schedule?
LOUISE
Well, with the successful completion of the audit, The Partner [Hallelujah] is out here today. He and Fred are in with Acmeís executive board right now signing off on the audit.
Jenny mimics Fredís low voice.
JENNY
You mean Fredís "getting his arms around the whole ball of wax and touching bases with the powers-that-be"?
DIRK
Oh, Jenny, I love it when you talk like an audit manager. I want you to be my date at this yearís end-of-audit party.
JENNY
Dirk, youíre a computer guy. Why donít you try computer dating?
DIRK
I would try computer dating, but I prefer women. So, will you go out with me?
JENNY
I would try it, Dirk, but I prefer men.
DIRK
Ooo, that hurt. Youíve cut me to the quick.
JENNY
Speaking of cliches, here comes Louiseís boss, Fred.
Fred strides in, smoking a cigar.
FRED
Greetings, one and all. I wonít beat around the bush. Iíll make this short and sweet. Things were up in the air for a while there. It looked like we had our backs to the wall and weíd opened a can of worms. [to Louise] The ball was in your court. You bit the bullet, took the bull by the horns, and landed on your feet. You came through with flying colors, success-wise. And the bottom line is that the audit is signed, sealed, and delivered.
JENNY
[aside to Louise] Do you understand what heís saying?
LOUISE
[aside to Jenny] Itís kind of scary, but I think I do.
FRED
Donald, youíre the greatest thing since sliced bread. And, uh, do me a favor: kiss your fatherís ring for me, will ya?
DONALD
Iím glad you said "ring".
Donald pulls a small box from his pocket, drops to one knee, and presents an engagement ring to Louise. She smiles and allows him to put the ring on her finger. Everyone coos at the romantic sight. Louise embraces Donald when he stands.
Fred removes a check from his pocket and gives it to Louise.
FRED
Louise, hereís that cash advance you wanted. Now you can laugh all the way to the bank.
LOUISE
Thanks, Fred. This is just what the doctor ordered.
Louise winces as she realizes that she just used another cliche.
LOUISE (continued)
[aside to Jenny] Now heís got me doing it.
Everyone has gathered around Fred. Bob is standing next to Fred holding his coffee cup. Fred sniffs the air and looks at the cup. He points questioningly at Bobís cup.
FRED
May I?
Bob shrugs and sheepishly offers the cup to Fred. Fred drinks some of the liquid. He smacks his lips and seems surprised at the taste.
FRED (continued)
Nothing quite like Acme coffee.
Fred puts out his cigar in the wet bottom of the cup and nods his thanks as he hands it back to Bob. Fred does a double take at what he sees in cup.
FRED (continued)
Your coffee is on fire.
Fred turns back to the auditors.
FRED (continued)
Well, gang, letís get this show on the road. We have a new client, so itís back to square one. Letís move it, move it. Time is money, money.
DIRK
Wait! A successful audit calls for a celebration! Listen up, everyone.
Dirk sings enthusiastically to the tune of 76 Trombones. The others perform attache case drill team dances beside and with Dirk.
'76 income beat the prior year
Climbing up 31% after tax
And whenever it grows and grows
Evíry broker knows
The market acts upon the facts

Our marvelous tax program helped to boost the year.
We depreciate evírything but our debt,
And if anyone wants to know
Weíve got great cash flow
Thatís not reflected in the net.

Now I told you that it rose by 31% (after tax)
But cash flow grew by 52, a nice accomplishment.
The I.R.S. admires us because we use
Evíry ruse that is allowed by law.
Thereís investment credit, long-term gain,
A carry-forward we retain
And not one deduction has a flaw.

í76 income hit a record mark.
Now itís time to proclaim that fact Ďround the earth.
With our audit opinion clean
Itís "Condition Green"
To broadcast our financial worth.
All freeze. Curtain. End of play.


Copyright © 2003 William Armstrong



List of Plays