Financial Bloopers: Crying over Spilled Ink

This series features stories of accounting blunders — some real, some imagined or exaggerated for effect.

My grandfather owned a small stationary shop called “Ink and Quill.” Every Wednesday night, he would pour himself a glass of red wine, put on a favorite record, and settle into his study armchair to go over the books for the past week.

My mom and I were always telling him it is time to go digital, but he resisted. He ran all his calculations by hand, or with a little pocket calculator.  “Why do I need a computer to tell me what I already know?” he would ask. Grandpa kept one massive folder, with sticky notes and dog ears everywhere. There must have been hundreds of pages accumulated over decades. But I will give him credit: he always knew exactly where to look for specific translation details.

Finally, grandpa decided he wanted to retire and that he was going to entrust Ink and Quill to me. I was honored. My first task? Go over the books for the last week. No problem!

I worked for 5 hours, meticulously going over everything, double checking receipts and dates. At 1:30 AM, I closed the books satisfied, ready to turn in. As I reached for the lamp switch, I knocked over a bottle of ink. Before I knew what was happening, it had spilled everywhere, drenching the folder.

Disaster. I tried to blot it as well as I could, but there was no salvaging the papers.

I was so nervous to tell my grandfather. But the next day, when I brought him the not-quite-dry folder, he just laughed. “I didn’t know you wanted to go digital that badly,” he joked. I’ve been doing the books for 3 years now, and he still makes fun of me and my alleged sabotage…

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