Are You a CPA with an OCD? I'm a CPA with a CDO!

Obsessive-compulsive CPAsAre you a CPA with an OCD?  I have CDO.  It's like OCD, but all the letters are in order as they should be.  CDO is a more advanced stage of OCD; it can be fatal...to your marriage, friendships, employment, etc.

Do you even know what OCD stands for?  There are lots of OCDs running around.  They look perfectly normal from the outside.  But they drive everyone—including themselves—crazy.  And our profession certainly appears to attract more than its fair share of these nut cases.  In fact, a psychiatrist could have a field day finding an endless supply of patients in any public accounting office.  Don't believe me?  Just look around.  (Don't forget to look in the mirror, too.)

Perhaps it’s the inevitable consequence of restricting human beings to a 3’ by 4’ cubicle, a desk, and a computer monitor for 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, 300 days a year.  Or perhaps there’s something deeper involved here.  Perhaps certain personality traits, innate at birth, doom certain individuals to pursue such a completely nutty, inhuman, unnatural lifestyle of sitting passively in a caged cubicle staring blankly at a video screen of resolution 1024 by 768 pixels all day everyday of the year for up to half a century.  It’s the old causality dilemma of which came first, the nut or the CPA.  Frankly, it does not matter since it doesn’t change the fact that most of us are,…well,…quite frankly,…abnormal.

If you are a CPA, then you must have noticed by now—or perhaps a significant other has brought it to your attention at least 1,001 times, if not more—that you are “peculiar” or “eccentric” (the polite English terms for the American phrase, “being completely off one’s rocker”).  It is possible that your “condition” involves you doing things primarily for the sake of doing them, without any real purpose, as if you were a high priest or priestess performing some sort of mumble-jumble ritualistic rite.  Although you may think that you have legitimate reasons for doing these things, they are mere rationalizations, plausible only to you since no one else finds them credible at all.

For instance, perhaps you wash your hands every fifteen minutes at the office, justifying such behavior as necessary because your keyboard is full of germs and you do not want to catch a cold.

Or you run to the restroom on the hour every hour you are in the office to brush your teeth, fearing that the artificial lightener in your coffee will rot your teeth.

Or you clutter your desk with everything imaginable under the sun since you began working at this public accounting office, unable to throw anything out, afraid, for instance, that you might need that one worksheet you prepared fifteen years ago for a former client, in the event that that very same client may someday return again as a client and that one particular ripped and coffee-spotted worksheet may prove invaluable after all.

Or you insist on arranging your pencils, rulers, erasers, paper clips, loose staples, elastic bands, thumb tacks, index cards, stickies, labels, tape, etc., in the same exact manner that you have placed them for the past fifteen or twenty years, convinced that unless you do so, you will be unable to find anything. 

Or every five minutes you bellow out a ghastly “ahem” sound, startling everyone within earshot and aggravating the hell out of them, fearing that unless you repeatedly clear your bronchial tubes that you will ultimately suffocate from your self-diagnosed and supposed sinus condition.

Or every five minutes you make a mad dash to the bathroom, convinced that you have a chronic bladder infection, a yeast infection, an enlarged prostate, IBS, lactose intolerance, c difficile, or all of the above conditions.

Whatever erratic behavior you indulge in ritualistically is your own business, and we do not wish to pry (unless, of course, it’s sexual in nature…then by all means, pray tell with all of the filthy, disgusting, sordid and evil details).  We realize that denial typically accompanies a psychiatric disorder, and that any repeated and fervent denial on your part of indulging in such ritualistic behavior merely adds further suspicion that you are, indeed, a certifiable nut case.  The truth is that, without even knowing it, you may be suffering from OCD:  an obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Or, in more simple, everyday, layman terms—language friends or spouses have previously used to characterize you and your behavior—you are “anal”.  And unless you determine how severe it is right now at this very minute without any further delay, you may end up losing not only your job as a CPA—and your trophy wife, because she probably only married you for your W-2 anyway—but also any remaining vestige of sanity, assuming it is not too late, which, in all likelihood, it probably is already.

So if you wish to know how nuts you really are in order to elude the man with a butterfly net from dragging you off to Happy Dale, answer the following questions right now before it is too late.  However, if you feel an uncontrollable urge to make a pit stop or wash your hands, do so now before proceeding further, but note that you are not off to a propitious start and add 5 points to your score upon completion of the examination.

How frequently do you park in the same spot in the parking lot outside the office?

  1. Hardly at all.  You select a different space every day because you crave variety.
  2. Usually if it is available.
  3. You come to work at 5 A.M. to ensure that it is available.
  4. Always, even if it requires honking your horn incessantly and driving around the lot for hours until it becomes available.

 How often do you wash your hands at work?

  1. Never.
  2. Only when they are full of grease, butter, and layers of food, and are attracting flies.
  3. So frequently that your boss has already spoken to a plumber about installing a sink at your desk.

If your boss had a candy jar full of M & M’s and offered you some, would you:

  1. Grab a handful, and then another, and another, making a complete pig of yourself.
  2. Take only one or two and say “thank you”.
  3. First smell each piece, then blow it thoroughly on all sides, and microscopically inspect its entire surface area before ingesting.
  4. Only take one but only if you had sterilized the candy dish before personally opening the bag of M & M’s, and only if you were the first individual to place your hand in the dish for the candies.  Otherwise, refuse to take any, offering a lame excuse that you are trying to lose weight or are suffering from diabetes and fear lapsing into an irreversible coma.

If a peer or subordinate was having difficulty with his or her computer and needed your assistance, would you

  1. Sit down at his or her computer and attempt to resolve the problem.
  2. Ask him or her to wait, hoping someone else will assist him or her after a few hours.
  3. Assist him or her only after putting on a surgical mask and latex gloves hermetically sealed, and after emptying a container of disinfectant on his or her keyboard.
  4. Feign sudden, complete deafness and pretend you don’t hear her or him.

 If a client had a hair on his or her suit, would you

  1. Ignore it.
  2. Suggest the need for a valet.
  3. Stare at it until he or she removed it.
  4. Pick it off yourself or attempt to blow it off, without suggesting anything sexual.
  5. Scream hysterically, bolt for your car, drive off, and immediately call the police.

When you commit an error, do you

  1. Laugh and say, “No one is perfect….”
  2. Swear and curse.
  3. Kick the computer, your desk, and anyone nearby, and then hobble out of the office in excruciating pain.
  4. Remove your tanto from the bottom drawer on the right hand side of your desk and announce to all samurais present that you are about to perform the sacred ritual of seppuku.

When you are offered constructive criticism, do you

  1. Nod your head, and thank the individual in appreciation.
  2. Make excuses, blaming your wife, children, or mother-in-law.
  3. Debate the observation for endless hours, if not days, until a retraction and an apology is made.
  4. Call the offeror a moron, kick him or her in the groin, and offer back some constructive criticism of your own:  namely, that he or she should go commit an unnatural act (or words to that effect).

If you accidentally hit your hand against a door knob or file cabinet while walking down the office corridor, do you

  1. Rub it and forget about it.
  2. Ice it down for thirty minutes.
  3. Test the severity of the injury by trying countless exercises on your computer keyboard, until you do, in fact, strain or injure a tendon or ligament in your hand.
  4. Go to the emergency room, have x-rays taken, wear a brace or a cast, take a leave of absence for four to six weeks, hire an ambulance chasing attorney, submit a workers compensation claim, and sue your employer for millions. 

If you discover that the height of your chair needs adjustment, do you

  1. Tolerate it until you gain or lose a few pounds on your derriere.
  2. Adjust it until it feels comfortable.
  3. Use a tape measure to adjust it precisely to the level prescribed by Architectural Graphic Standards.
  4. Play around with it, going up and down like a roller coaster, refusing to quit even though everyone nearby has been begging you for the past few hours to do so and you are about to vomit because of motion sickness. 

How often do you suffer from panic attacks?

  1. Never.
  2. Only when you go to bed at night with your spouse.
  3. Whenever you see your boss. 
  4. Whenever you interact with a homo sapien.

The measure of the severity of an obsessive-compulsive disorder can be found by the following algorithm:

OCDI = f(xi )dx

Which can be approximated by the following equation:

OCD~I = Σ xi

where OCDI represents the “obsessive-compulsive disorder index”,

and where xi is the value of the number before the individual answer selected from the preceding test.

Summing up all of these numbers gives you the calculated value of the severity of your obsessive-compulsive disorder.  The higher the index, the sicker you are.

If you scored 15 or under, you are perfectly normal and do not suffer from OCD.

If you scored between 16 and 27, you do suffer from OCD, the condition being all the more noticeable and counter-productive the higher its value.

If you scored between 28 and 40, you have a severe OCD condition.  If it is close to 40, it’s a wonder that you are not serving time or practicing public accounting at Happy Dale.

If you are a CPA with an OCD, or if you know a CPA with an OCD, in the section for "Comment" below, please share the specific obsessive-compulsions of which you are aware or which you have observed so that we may laugh either at your expense or along with you.

This article is provided for informational purposes and is not intended to be construed as legal, accounting, or other professional advice.  For further information, please consult appropriate professional advice from your attorney and certified public accountant.  

Have a tax or an accounting question?  Please feel free to submit it under “Comments” at Accounting, QuickBooks, and Taxes by the Barefoot Accountant.  For information and assistance on any tax and accounting issue, please visit our website:  Accountants CPA Hartford, LLC.


If and only to the extent that this publication contains contributions from tax professionals who are subject to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, the publisher, on behalf of those contributors, hereby states that any U.S. federal tax advice that is contained in such contributions was not intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose. The above tax advice was written to support the promotion or marketing of the accounting practice of the publisher and any transaction described herein. The taxpayer recipients of this offering memorandum should seek tax advice based on their particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

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The Barefoot Accountant—is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor,  operating an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting firm in Berlin, Connecticut, Accountants CPA Hartford, Connecticut, LLC.  Bill has instructed graduate and undergraduate courses in Accounting, Auditing, and other subjects at the University of Hartford, Central Connecticut State University, Hartford State Technical College, and Purdue University. He also taught GMAT and CPA Exam Review Classes at the Stanley H. Kaplan Educational Center and at Person-Wolinsky, and is certified to teach trade-related subjects at Connecticut Vocational Technical Schools. His articles on tax and accounting have been published in several professional journals as well as on several accounting websites. William was born and raised in New Britain, Connecticut, and served on the City's Board of Finance and Taxation as well as its City Plan Commission.  Bill is a crazed animal lover, feeding birds, squirrels, chipmunks, skunks, possums, stray cats, and any two-legged or four-legged critter traversing through his yard.  His backyard in Berlin, Connecticut has been certified as a habitat suitable for wildlife by the National Wildlife Federation.

Bill also writes an Accounting, QuickBooks, and Tax blog:  Accounting, QuickBooks, and Taxes by the Barefoot Accountant.  For entertaining articles, please see his listing at The Amazing Brighenti.

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