#337 – Strictly Professional

I have a strict rule of thumb when it comes to receiving professional services from women I’ve dated – never! As I’m the first to admit, my unwavering stance seems like overkill at times. Nonetheless, as I told a client today, this is a situation where “better safe than sorry” makes sense.

“Alfred” sought my advice this morning regarding a potential malpractice action against his ex-wife, “Donna.” She’s a CPA. According to him, she prepared the couple’s tax returns during the years of their marriage. She also prepared her ex-husband’s individual returns last year, the first following their bitter divorce. Apparently, certain eye opening deductions in Alfred’s latest federal return caught the attention of the IRS. So it would seem, judging from the communiqué he received yesterday informing him of his impending audit!

“Why would she do it?!” Alfred moaned. “She’s supposed to be a professional, with ethics for God’s sake! Why risk her license just to screw me? And the audit’s going back to the years when we were still married, so she’ll end up with penalties too!”

In answer, I shared my rule on seeking professional services from Exes. I also threw in gratis my amateur psychoanalysis of the situation: “It’s basic human nature; you hate someone strongly enough and you’ll do anything to destroy ’em, even if it means shooting yourself. You think that Polish dentist in the news last week considered the loss of her license and jail time she’ll face, when she decided to yank out all her ex-boyfriend’s teeth? Sure, in hindsight she probably concedes to acting rashly, but in the heat of the moment …?”

Alfred agreed he hadn’t used his best judgment in retaining the services of the woman who’d referred to him during their divorce as a “lying cow turd!” Still, he remained unconvinced that a hard and fast rule like mine has to apply in every situation.

“Undoubtedly, some people can put emotion aside when performing professional roles,” I acknowledged. “But why chance it? I remember one time when I needed some professional work and the person greeting me was a woman I’d dated. I told her straight off I didn’t accept professional services from my Exes! Much like you, she thought my stance too rigid under the circumstances.”

“What circumstances?” Alfred asked.

“She told me: “First of all, we only went out once, and I was the one who didn’t want another date. And second, even if I hated your guts, what do you think I could do to you?”

“What’d you say to her?” Alfred inquired.

“I said: ‘You could violate your ethics, so I end up driving into oncoming traffic and dying! But while the loss of your license and possible prison sentence may offer some small consolation to my heirs, I’d just as soon let another optometrist fit me for new glasses!”

Best not hire your ex-wife CPA to prepare one of these!

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