Cyber Catastrophe — A True Story

My husband and his siblings are fortunate enough to have recently moved their mom (my sweet mother-in-law) up here from Southern California. She's happy, making new friends, and getting healthier every day. Life is good!

What rides tandem with relocating a parent, though, is the whole financial thing — how and where to put what money when. So they've been dealing with a triumvirate of professionals: a financial advisor, a CPA and a probate attorney. It's all gone really, really smoothly — well, it was going smoothly…until last week.

(Cue the harps…)

So Chuck, my husband, introduces Marilyn, the sister (my beloved sister-in-law) to the CPA — our CPA for the past 20 years — a few weeks ago. A virtual love-fest ensued. The three sibs agreed he's awesome, has everyone's best interests at heart, yada-yada-yada.

So the financial guy — our dear friend of 30+ years — calls the CPA. Another love-fest breaks out. They're both on the exact same page. Yay!

“Chuck, your CPA is wonderful,” says our financial guy/dear friend.

The CPA: “Chuck, your financial guy knows his stuff. He's great!”

Now the probate attorney, who Marilyn (the sister) has known for about 15 years, comes on board. She's well-respected in the community, is a good friend of Mare's,  is extremely trustworthy, etc., gets involved. Which is a good, prudent thing, the three siblings and their mom agree. Life is still good!

Everyone is in sync. (Not, like, Justin Timberlake 'N Sync,  but in sync, in sync.) All Three Sibs and the Mom and the CPA and the Financial Guy and the Probate Attorney = In Sync-ness!

So Chuck gets busy at work the other day, needs to make a conference call. So he asks his sister to email the CPA (instead of Chuck doing it, who has the established, long-running relationship with the CPA), to clarify something the attorney suggested relative to a future financial eventuality.

As she is want to do, our ever-helpful Marilyn said, “Sure, I'll email him if you don't have the time.”

So since his con-call starts in like three minutes, Chuck hurriedly looks up the CPA's email address really quickly online.

(Now, for purposes of this post, and to protect the very innocent, let's call the CPA Joe Blow.)

“Thanks, Mare, for  doing this,” he says to his sister, as he gives her Joe's email address.

Fast-forward about four hours later. Mare texts Chuck: “I can't believe this! Check your email!”

And thence unraveled an email strand hot off the press between Marilyn and The CPA that reads like a novella that should be entitled Mean People.

My poor sweet sis-in-law.  Paraphrasing — but pretty darn close to verbatim — The CPA tells Mare that The Attorney can take a flying leap, that she knows not of what she speaks, that he's done with the he said/she said back-and-forth; and furthermore, he has much more important things to do than deal with “you people.”

Shocked. Awed. Baffled. Aghast. Ticked off. Sad. Confused. Just a few of the emotions Chuck and Marilyn were experiencing.





Baby Expressions


My husband marinated in his thoughts and emotions the rest of the day. He left a message for Joe: “Hey, please call me as soon as possible. I apologize for what apparently were some major miscommunications between you and my sister. Let's talk!”

He slept nary an hour that night. He futzed, he fidgeted, he tossed, he turned. He wondered how a long-time friendly, always-professional, great relationship could turn so horribly ugly so quickly. Like, had Joe just gotten an unpleasant medical diagnosis? Was he in a really, really bad mood because someone just dented the bumper of his brand new Mercedes? Does he suffer from Split Personality Disorder?  Because this was not the affable Joe Blow, CPA-Extraordinaire, we had known for the last 20 years.

The next morning Joe called Chuck. “Hey, sorry I didn't get back to you earlier. I have looked through my emails from yesterday, Chuck. I don't know what you're talking about! I haven't talked to Marilyn since you introduced me to her weeks ago.”

Silence. More baffle-ment. Huh?

“What?!” gasped a stunned Chuck.

The silence remained deafening…  Hearts were pounding… The wheels were turning…

Finally, Joe Blow asked, “What email address did she use? Because there is another CPA in the Bay Area named Joe Blow. His middle initial is T. Mine is L.”

Thee biggest aha moment in the history of mankind happened. A huge sigh of relief emanated from Chuck's being.  The “mystery” was solved.  And the amicable, professional corroboration among the Mom, the Siblings, the Probate Attorney, the Financial Guy and the (real) CPA continues to this day.


So as I see it, here is a list of the lessons to be learned from this true story:

  • Don't be in a hurry when retrieving an email address online.
  • Be hyper-vigilant as to those middle initials.
  • Beware of “professionals” out there that engage in emails with “clients” they don't even know. (I mean, why did Bay Area Joe Blow even respond to that initial email from Marilyn, a non-client?)
  • Know that there are egotistical, rude and defensive “professionals” out there. (We all already knew that though…)
  • Know that Chuck and I are great CPA picker-outers, after all.
  • Know that there's a really scummy CPA in the Bay Area.
  • Know that there's an awesome, honest, patient, likeable, knowledgeable CPA in the Sacramento area.
  • Why am I protecting the name of the idiot Joe in the Bay Area?
  • If you want the real name of the “good” Joe in Sac, let me know, and I'll inbox it to you.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.

About Me

It's true! Despite playing defense virtually all my life against the onslaught of this sometimes-ugly aging process, it...has...arrived! I naively thought I would escape cellulite (the Cottage Cheese) and crow's feet (the Crepe Paper). But I didn't! And why didn't anyone tell me about this emotional roller-coaster that comes with being an Empty-Nester?! My name is Jodie Barringer Myers. I'm a 54-year-old Friday/chardonnay/ hydrangea-loving wife/mom/court reporter living in Sacramento (Gold River!), California. Writing is cathartic for me. And because I look to find humor and humility among the rubble that is my now very peri-menopausal self, I'm hopeful that you will laugh, cry, learn, enjoy and, most of all, relate to what I have to say. After all, we're all in this together, right?

See my complete profile >>