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Fred Nietzsche, C.P.A.


by Con Chapman


That which does not kill me, makes me stronger.

 

Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, 1888

 

That which does not kill you only makes you stronger.

                       PricewaterhouseCoopers ad

You think it's easy being an accountant?  You think once tax season is over I just come into the office to open up the mail and cash the checks?  Let me tell you, all is not strudel and schnitzel at Nietzsche & Nietzsche, P.C.

First, there is my partner-Elisabeth, my sister.  Don't get me wrong-I love her to death.  But would it be too much to ask that she include self-addressed envelopes in the tax returns she sends to her clients?  God is dead, but God forbid that one of them should ever pay us in thirty days.  We're a business too!

As for her filing, the less said the better.  I found the home office worksheet of Lou Andreas Salomé under “A”, not “S”, and her self-employment expenses under “L”.  Zarathustra gave us the Superman-why can't I have a Superwoman for the office!

I've told Elisabeth not to eat at her desk, but every day she spreads her tuna salad sandwich out on her work papers when I'm trying to concentrate.  I can't have clients in-the place smells like the cafeteria at the Domgymnasium in Naumburg.


Mouflon

I've thought about going out on my own since I seem to be the only one with any business-getting skills around here.  It takes a will to power to hustle for clients.  You can't sit back and just wait for the Übermensch to do it all.  I joined the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Mouflon and the University of Basel Booster Club.  I spent a hundred Deutschmarks on an ad in the program for the Bayreuth Festival, and she gave me a ton of grief!  “When do we see the payoff on that one?” she asked.  “Or is this another one on the ‘Eternal Return on Investment' plan?”

I could put up with her constant caviling about which depreciation schedule to use for business equipment if she would just stay out of my personal life!  Last summer she insisted on serving as “chaperone” when Lou and I tried to get away to Tautenburg for a week.  “It is improper for someone who will one day be revered by college freshmen around the world to be seen with an unmarried woman at a Dionysian Fantasy Camp,” she said.

What she doesn't “get” is that there's no money in auditing, and tremendous exposure.  That's why all the other existentialist accountants are going into consulting.  Schopenhauer's building a nice book of business in the construction trades, retail and ethics.  Kierkegaard's pretty much cornered the restaurant and hospitality industry and the subjective nature of truth.  And what do I have?  Nothing, because I must constantly correct Elisabeth's arithmetic!  Naught, naught, carry the one-how hard is that to remember?


Kierkegaard:  “‘Fear and Trembling and Sickness Unto Death'?  Naw—too depressing.”

            No, if I am to succeed, if I am ever to take my place at the head of the German Institute of Certified Public Accountants, I must breathe free!  Perhaps Malwida von Meysenbug and Enno Friedrich Wichard Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff would join me in an office-sharing arrangement.  I would of course ask Enno to drop some of his names, as the extra expense will increase the cost of our stationery and business cards.  “Nietzsche, Meysenbug & Wilamowitz, P.C.”  Kinda catchy, no?

            But I am thinking-big picture-I need to rebrand myself.  Deloitte's slogan is “To be the standard of excellence.”  Ernst & Young has “Quality in everything we do.”  KPMG has “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”  PricewaterhouseCoopers has “That which does not kill you only makes you stronger.”  God I love that one! 

            Wonder if they're hiring.

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