Professions in the dump

If you aren’t familiar with the auditing profession you’ll have to bear with me here for a minute. A couple of days ago, in discussing a project, one of my co-workers offered to give a one-day crash course in auditing to some junior staff so that these non-auditors could help on a audit project. A few years ago that would have had me snarling, but now that I’m a more mellow consultant I let it slide. However, it drives home the point to me once again that my profession isn’t respected.

I am fairly sure no-one has ever asked my sister-in-law, a doctor, to give a one-day crash course in surgery – and then expected to be able to perform surgery on their own. That might be too extreme of an example, though, so I’ll try again: I don’t think I have ever heard anyone ask a carpenter to give a one-day crash course in carpentry and then expect that person to be able to build a chest of drawers. I could go on forever with my examples.

The point is that I am in a profession that – despite being one of the final bastions of defense against corporate misdeeds in America – is respected a little bit less than supermarket baggers. I wonder why, to be honest. I guess there’s a perception of auditors as the sneaky guys who try to catch out hard-working employees stealing a pen, or even as the ‘snitch’. What most people don’t realize is that without auditors there would be no defense against outright financial fraud until it exploded and destroyed the company overnight.

In Enron’s case, the auditors discovered something and then (you can argue this) failed to be sufficiently tough about fixing it. The result? That company disintegrated over a few months once it was discovered. The Worldcom situation was similar, but auditors caught it in time and the company managed to correct the errors, fire the guilty and will survive, albeit in a reduced form.

What other professions are unfairly treated as ‘easy’? Here are just a few, in my opinion – add your own in comments if I forgot anything.

  1. Teachers. It is not sufficient to stand up in front of a room and ask kids to memorize 3+ 4=7. There’s a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes to prepare lesson plans and make sure children are educated, not just drilled.
  2. Nurses. The movie “Meet the Parents” probably helped show how silly this was, but I’m sure a lot of people would still look down on a nurse as someone who didn’t manage to make it to being a doctor. But nurses (or home aides, or nursing home workers, or EMTs, etc.) all perform the tough, dirty, and emotional work of caring for patients. I can’t imagine it’s easy.
  3. Truckers. I know it must seem like an easy job to drive for a living, but I’m sure a truckers job is every bit as stressful and boring and difficult as my job sitting in front of a computer. Spending week after week driving a slow, nonresponsive small building on wheels with tiny cars whipping around you right and left would be tough. I hate a slow truck just like any other driver, but I shouldn’t. Without truckers, this country would grind to a complete stop, and I mean complete stop – or do you think those California oranges are going to be delivered to the door of your local supermarket by train?
  4. Police officers. I have made donut jokes more times than I can count, but I am sure that any person who is willing to protect other people at the risk of their own life as a job doesn’t get sufficient respect. If you asked me to sacrifice myself to save my son, that’s an easy question – I would do it without hesitation. But a police officer can be put in a position to sacrifice themselves for a random stranger. That’s devotion.
  5. Stay-at-home moms. Bubelah stays home. It’s a tough job, for sure. Long hours, no weekends, occasional frights and often a heavy helping of monotony. Before you think I sound like I’m piling on my son, pick up a copy of “I Am A Bunny”…and read it 13 times in a row. Out loud, with sound effects. Every day. For a year. But actually that’s not my point; stay-at-home moms get less respect than almost any other ‘profession’ for the same reason I just put quotes around ‘profession’. No-one thinks it’s a job. If you take your child to a daycare center, you pay them. So a stay-at-home mom is actually performing a role that in other circumstances people are paid for. A stay-at-home mom will get no respect. People will say “boy, it must be nice to stay home all day” or “when are you going to get a real job” without realizing how demeaning that is. This country has glorified the two-income family who can afford a plasma TV and two brand-new SUVs in the driveway. While pretending to honor sacrifice and family, too often we do neither.

So I guess I’ll just toil along doing my job that I could apparently train someone in one day to take over, and dream of the day I can get some respect!