Friday, May 30, 2008

Bizzare Audit Experiences

I have been asked many times what is my strangest auditing experience. I have really had too many to pick one that stands above all others, but here a some of the weirdest by category:

Animal Encounters:

"Nice doggy!": I was bitten by a junkyard dog while trying to take samples based on a complaint that the owner was dumping oil (at a junkyard - imagine that!). Once the incident was reported, the owner reported the dog missing for almost all of the 2-week rabies observation period. It looked like I was going to have to get the dreaded series of shots in the stomach, until the dog miraculously "reappeared" on the last day. Whew! But they don't call me "Mad Dog Molly" for nothing!

"The Stress Musta Got to 'Em":

There is nothing quite like the special ambiance of an emergency room for a closing meeting. My client was having dizzy spells and was uncontrollably nauseous, which is not necessarily abnormal at a closing meeting, but we did think this case was serious enough to go to the hospital. Fortunately he got better, and to this day claims it was NOT the audit, but a temporary loss of equilibrium in his ear after a cross-country flight.

"War" stories are sometimes an excellent way to encourage a client to open up and relax, but ghost stories? One client explained to me that he talks to ghosts that live on the other side of his backyard fence, and they tell him what to do. What can you do but nod your head, smile and try not to make any sudden movements?

Lovely Weather We're Having:

Having 3 tornado warnings in one afternoon was an excellent chance to test the effectiveness of emergency preparedness and response procedures at one organization. Plus, I had a ready-made pool of interviewees trapped there with me. Bonus! Hey, just like showbiz: the audit must go on!

Unfriendly Fire:

As a rookie park ranger (19 years old), I was on patrol, when my veteran partner spotted someone with beer on the beach (which wasn't allowed), so he let me out to write my first ticket. While I was busily trying to figure out how to fill out the form, I was oblivious to everything else, including my perp, who was standing between his car door and the interior of the vehicle. My partner came up behind him, and grabbed the billy club he had been reaching for, brought it up and said" What's this?" I sure learned some important observation skills that day...

...and the "most evil" award goes to this one:

When I was a hazardous waste inspector for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, I was involved in a case where the owner of a plating company was trying to sell off and/or dispose of all his chemicals so he could skip town. I got involved after the city shut off the company's sewer access and called IDEM in to investigate. The case ultimately wound up with the federal EPA. If it were a Master Card ad, it would go like this:

Fines for illegally discharging your untreated plating solution to the sewer: $5000.
Fines for illegally burning your hazardous waste in the parking lot: $25,000.
Getting ten years in the federal pen for trying to sell your polluted property to the city for use as a youth center: Priceless!

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