Accounting Nightmares

Some Things Just Won’t Reconcile

Some Things Just Won’t Reconcile

Even though my first memories are of childhood nightmares, my dreaming has, over the last few decades, been remarkably free of anything scary. Those first nightmares, however, were real wowsers: In response to toilet training, I would be stuck in the bathroom with the walls closing in on me with the sound of a steam engine. Or there were the times I was being chased around our home on East 120th Street by a lion.

Since I started working in accounting, I have had a different type of dream—particularly when I am facing some problem of whose resolution I am uncertain. Right now, I am trying to analyze the sales of government securities that just don’t seem to reconcile. First of all, there are Fannie Mae investments with a monthly Return of Principal, which I am not sure is being accurately registered in the brokerage statements. And then there was the mistaken sale of three securities that had already been sold earlier that month in the same statement. What was even stranger was that, when the sale was canceled, in each case it was assessed at a different value than the value at the time of “re-sale.”.

When I have trouble dropping off to sleep, I occasionally revisit these technical problems; and the numbers swirl around and around in my head. Sometimes, in my half-sleep, I come up with brilliant solutions. Almost always, I gain some insight, even though I lose some sleep in the process.

If you were to ask me, I think I would prefer the extra sleep.