When I learn friends have left public accounting, I feel like I’m witnessing the wrongfully accused breaking out of prison. Oh sure, I know why the caged bird sings. I become their biggest fan, cheering them on in an imaginary race from The Man. Run! Don’t look back! FOR GOD’S SAKE HE’S RIGHT BEHIND YOU!
This happened recently with a friend of mine. He was two years behind me in college; we met and became friends on a Management & Human Resources group project when I made a girl cry. In 2012 he started at another large accounting firm, until he got sick of the bump’n’grind and decided to GTFO, also in 2012. Poor kid didn’t even make it a year.
I know all this not because I excel at correspondence and keeping up with old friends, but because Facebook told me. He posted in December:
“Last day at XYZ, I’ve learned a lot but I’m excited to be following my dream!”
Upon reading this status, he was immediately moved into my “hero” column. Following his dream? Why can’t I do that? (Cause I don’t have one.) Wanting to encourage him while still remaining upbeat and professional, I commented:
“How did you escape?”
“Haha, nice choice of words :-).”
Playing coy I see. Since he failed to provide me with a detailed escape blueprint, I began to play closer attention and noticed other small changes. He updated his profile photo to a flattering selfie revealing a tan bod and toned arms. He started posting happy status updates. His life looked great. I was conflicted between being really happy for him (That lucky bastard!) and jealous (Bastard!). Mostly I just wondered what his story was. How did he escape? Did he scrape at the cinder blocks of his cell each night after lights-out with a spoon he stole from the mess hall, hiding the hole in the wall with a Hang In There kitty poster? Did he have help from the inside? Now that he’s free, how will he adjust to life on the outside?
Before long, a new status appeared:
“Tomorrow’s my first official day at Xperience Fitness! Looking forward to the start of something great!”
So that’s why he’s so fit. I was impressed, he had it made! He was everything I wanted to be: an in-shape non-accountant. I entertained the idea of becoming a personal trainer. I figured I like teaching, don’t wanna teach kids, and used to be an endurance runner… good idea, right? Later I decided yoga instructor was the way to go – the outfits are better. Then I thought only going to yoga once might hurt me in my quest to lead others. Besides, yoga instructors should have a fridge full of kale and ginger ready for the juicing. And I haaaaate cleaning my juicer, you guys. I crossed fitness instructor and yogi off my future career list, but was still all-the-more inspired.
Then, get this! That ass-hat posted like three weeks later:
“Tomorrow’s my last day at Xperience Fitness, and I’m sad to be leaving all the great people I’ve met! It was a great opportunity!”
Pardon? You just got that job, like yesterday. By this time I was invested, I had immortalized him! I needed answers.
“Oh NO! What happened?!?”
This is the part of the story where the hero becomes a zero and you realize this is not an American movie with a happy ending but instead it’s some foreign film meant to be thought-provoking where the whole thing goes to shit and something dies. In this case, my faith in humanity. He deleted the status update and my comment (?!?), and then deleted all the previous status updates about leaving the accounting firm and joining XPerience Fitness (!!!). He went back to being professional by taking the whole thing ‘offline’ (aka moving it to a Facebook message).
Sad face is right, bro. I haven’t felt this betrayed since George R.R. Martin killed off Ned Stark in book one. Book one, y’all. If I hadn’t realized my fascination with his career move was unhealthy and staged an intervention on myself, I would have posed the following questions.
- ‘Go back to a job …’ – So you’re back in accounting? Fail.
- You found out it was hard to make money in personal training… – You didn’t look into this before making the switch? I mean shit, I could have told you, but I figured you knew.
- I LOOKED UP TO YOU.
- ‘Impossible to make descent money’ – If you went back to accounting to save $$ to later climb and descend Mt. Everest, I take back everything I said.
I may have bet on the wrong horse, but at least he tried. Even if he did give up like 3 weeks later.