Ah, the wonders of jargon and acronyms…

Posted: 15 January 2015 in life, personal
Tags: , ,

This was going to be a going cheep but it got away from me a bit. So, you get to read it here.

I was talking recently to a friend about how much I’d enjoyed WALL•E, and how I forget each time I watch it just how damned funny it is. I’m not sure why, but WALL•E himself (itself?) reminds me of V.I.N.CENT from Disney’s The Black Hole. Except that I realised that I’sd been spelling it wrong when I tried to remember for what V.I.N.C.E.N.T. was an acronym. I looked it up and discovered both the correct acronym, and also that it was a pretty crap acronym at that: Vital Information Necessary Centralized? Please…

Of course, it’s far from the only crap acronym; sometimes you absolutely know that the acronym came first and the explanation followed when whoever thought of it was asked what it stood for. Something similar happened when I was at Manchester Poly – the student union’s newspaper was called PULP, which was so named because the then editor (years before I was around) loved the name and only reluctantly some time later had to come up with something entitled Polytechnic Union Literary Publication.

And that reminded me of my favourite ever episode involving acronyms, the inspection of the firm for which I was working by the dreaded JMU. No, that’s not the acronym. That’s not even an acronym, really. It’s just an abbreviation. Anyway, the JMU, or Joint Monitoring Unit to give it is proper name, used to be the guys that came in to check you’re following the rules of auditing, and to confirm that all the bits of paper that should be there… are there. (It’s been replaced since 2005, but this predates that…)

The JMU were not checking whether you were right or wrong in the opinion you form as part of the audit, you understand, merely that you can back up with paperwork and tests any opinion that you have formed. And if you’re not 100% perfect, they can shut you down as an auditor. Just. Like. That.

We’d been expecting an inspection for a year or so – it was our ‘turn’ to get one – so for some time, me and my then boss commenced, once every couple of weeks, a final review on all audit files we’d completed in the past year, and all current ones we were now completing. In order to ensure we didn’t miss anything, I developed a one sheet summary that was entitled something like “Final Review Sheet”.

You know me, Mr Original.

Of course, it wasn’t known as that inside the firm.

No, inside the firm, the final review during which we made sure all the boxes on the Final Review Sheet were ticked was known as the F.O.A.D. review. Yes, quite obviously, since this was the last time we’d see the files for a year while they were in archive: the Fuck Off And Die review. But it was always called simply the F.O.A.D. review. Or, sometimes as a verb. As in: “Lee, don’t forget we’ve got to F.O.A.D that client’s files before the weekend…”

Of course, the acronym was never actually written down anywhere. I mean, that would just be asking for trouble.

(That’s called blatant foreshadowing, by the way.)

Comes the day of the JMU visit; everything’s going fine and dandy, and the sample files they’ve chosen at random are all passing muster. We’re about 20 minutes through the review meeting at the end of the day and one of them asks me and my boss, “Just one more thing. What’s an F.O.A.D review? Only on the notes and queries for [name of client]’s last year’s audit, there’s a note in your handwriting, Mr Dales [my boss], noting to ensure you completed it before Mr Barnett went on holiday.”

My boss looks at me, and only someone who knew him very well would have detected the look of panic in his eyes. Barely a second later, I say “Oh, that’s the Financial Operating and Asset Development review. We do them every three years or so with clients to check they’re neither over- nor-under capitalised and also to compare their return on capital employed against the market sector in which they operate.”

The two blokes from the JMU look at each other and for a moment I think they’re going to say “Oh, come on!” but they just nod, write it down and then ten minutes later, they thank us for our time, apologise if their inspection has disrupted our work… and they’re off.

As they leave, my boss just looks at me in sheer, unfettered admiration. “Where the fuck did that come from?”

I just smile and silently thank the gods of inspiration…

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Comments
  1. Adrian Ogden says:

    Just reminded me of the (probably apocryphal) tale of how the Tyne Wear And Tees Area National Union of Students. .. um… didn’t end up being called that.

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