“So …you want to be an accountant?” my office mentor shouted over the Friday lunchtime exuberance. It was my first week as a trainee and my first time out of the office. After watching our client fight his way through the swelling crowds of O’Donoguhes pub and disappear into the rain outside, my mentor fixed his eyes on mine, as if searching for an answer that he himself had been unable to find during his eighteen years in practice. I nodded, unconvincingly, and he rubbed his Guinness rouge cheeks before leaning his substantial weight towards me.
“The bottom line is liquidity …and asset management,” he pointed across our small corner table and I looked up at the misted Georgian windows where the autumn light was fading, “and there’s plenty of liquid out there …it’s pissing down. You’ll soon see that in Dublin it never rains …but it pours!”
I watched as my mentor placed his glass down softly on his cardboard beer mat. He had an air of exactitude and with a calculated smile he said, “We’ve ten minutes until our next meeting ….and on a day like today an umbrella would be a useful asset.” Scooping up his ipod and laptop he announced, “First lesson. Look and learn.”
I followed his oversized form through the crowd of Dubliners until we arrived at the end of the bar and with a single move of his hand the barman was summoned. “I left my umbrella …on the last works do a couple of weeks back …was it handed in?” Within seconds an array of umbrellas were revealed from behind the bar and my mentor leaned across to pluck out the furthest …and largest, “That’s the one.”
Stepping into the street he did not once blink at the sudden splash and roar from a Viking tourist bus. Instead he opened the large AXA umbrella above us, announcing, “In Dublin there are a little over one thousand pubs and two hundred days of rain …” I peered out from below our cover, the driving downpour scattering men and women in all directions.
“…and like everything in life there are rules to this type of asset management. Always take the oldest. Always take the corporate ones …you know …that they give out for free,” he stopped, having to draw closer so I could hear over the Dawson Street traffic, “and always …always put them back. It’s good asset management.” His face was set –serious, “We’re accountants after all …so what we credit we debit …somewhere along the way.”
We were at our next meeting and the AXA umbrella was folded as we ducked below the wide red awning of Café en Seine. It was at the end of our meeting when my lesson continued. The click of our client’s heels hurried towards the ornate exit, shafts of sunlight from the glass roof above highlighting her sleek figure as she disappeared through the cafes Greek pillars and into the gleaming wet street beyond. We both sighed. “Wonderful woman,” my mentor declared, his pocket suddenly vibrating. The office.
We were at the door when the waiter shouted after us, pointing to the table where we had all been sitting, “You’ve left your umbrella.” My mentor’s eye swept the sun drenched road before turning to shake his head, “No …it’s not ours.” We were out in the street before he said, “Credit umbrella O’Donoguhes, debit umbrella Café en Seine …all about asset management …you see,” he looked up at the late afternoon sun that was breaking through the clouds, “and liquidity of course.”
It was over two years later when I looked my first trainee in the eyes. We were in O’Donoghues pub waiting for our client.
“So,” I declared with an air of importance, trying everything I had to catch her attention, “you want to be an accountant?” She smiled, glancing down at her watch with a relaxed but uninterested air.
“I don’t think they’re going to come,” she said over the swelling crowds of the lunchtime trade.
“No,” I finally sighed, looking up at the misted windows, “and we’ve another meeting in five minutes.” Standing up I leaned towards her , “Do you know with just under nine hundred pubs ( the crisis had begun) and two hundred days of rain there’s one trick you really should know.”
It was the first time she had looked at me with interest.
“Follow me …look and learn.” It was on the fourth attempt I caught the barman’s attention and in a clear voice I said, “I left my umbrella …on the last works do a couple of weeks back …was it handed in?” I could feel the inquisitive eyes of my trainee finally focused on me. I pointed to the newest, largest umbrella I could see. A golfer’s umbrella. “That’s the one.”
The barman’s hand reached for it, hesitating a moment before pulling a small tag from its handle. He slammed the ticket down on the counter and I read his tattooed knuckles – HATE. “Glad you remembered,” he yelled, piercing me with a single look, “because you and your buddies forgot to pay …and at three hundred and ninety four Euros I ain’t best pleased.”
I glanced between the barman and my trainee, her eyes narrowing before she looked out at the torrential rain.
I cursed as my heart sank. In Dublin in never rains …but it pours.