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Enron scandal’s ripples reverberate

A story as big as the Arthur Andersen accounting controversy ripples outward and touches lives all across America. Here’s my true story of the way I am personally affected by the controversy surrounding this big accounting firm:

My mother-in-law lives in Racine, Wis. We visit her, which is nice. (The last clause of the previous sentence is added just in case she is reading this column on the Internet. Hi, Betty!)



Racine, Wis., is about an hour north of Chicago. As all parents know, one hour is the exact amount of time that a child can sit in a car without raising a ruckus about stopping at McDonald’s.




So, whenever we leave Racine and head southward, I find myself departing good ol’ Interstate 94, the Tri-State Tollway, in search of a McDonald’s. We have done this often enough that I now have a favorite McDonald’s. I even can recall the name of the exit, remember to turn left, and look for it a half mile down the street on the right-hand side.

(During my years of parenting, I have developed a fairly complete mental map of McDonald’s locations across the United States. I even can sort them by whether the playground is indoors or outdoors. This is not as noteworthy as it may seem. It’s an act of elementary self-protection by parents.)

Because I am a grouchy father, I refuse to recognize a stop at McDonald’s as an acceptable reason to leave the freeway. It’s dawdling, and fathers don’t believe in dawdling when there’s time to be made out on the open road.

In an effort to salvage the time we have squandered at this McDonald’s on the north side of Chicago, I unfailingly insist that we fill up the car with gas before we set off again. There’s a gas station back near the freeway entrance. I clearly remember that important fact every time we stop at the McDonald’s.

What I forget every time, however, is that the gas station is not accessible from the street that goes by McDonald’s. One is forced to go down the corner, hang a left, look for a place to make a U-turn, then come back to the gas station.

As it turns out, the most convenient spot to make a U-turn is the back parking lot of the headquarters of Arthur Andersen. I have been so grateful for the availability of this parking lot that I’ve given thought to dropping a thank-you note to the chairman of the company. I never quite got around to it. Maybe he’d appreciate it more now that all the trouble has started.

As a concerned American, then, my question is this: If Arthur Andersen is forced out of business, will I still be able to hang a U in the parking lot? Or will we need to go to Taco Bell instead?

John Seelmeyer is editor of The Union. His column appears on Saturday.


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