Should I Change My Name?

by Arthur W. Anderson

How would you like to have the name “Arthur Andersen?” Mine is close enough to experience some ripples. Being a pure Swede with a name that is spelled with an “o” instead of “e” should exempt me, don’t you think?

On Father’s Day, Bernice and I were in Pittsburgh visiting our son and his family. On Sunday morning as I greeted the family after a good night’s sleep, I was confronted by my son with a worried look on his face. Holding up the Sunday paper, he said, “Dad, it looks like you are in trouble. The headline: “ARTHUR ANDERSEN GUILTY!” We had our laughs. I told my family that if they introduced me to anyone in church, call me “Arthur Petersson.”

One Sunday the pastor introduced me to his congregation, using my full name. The whole congregation broke into laughter. He turned around to me blushing, and asked “Did I say something wrong?” He caught on quickly, of course. I was going to say that I was just out on parole, but thought better of it.

Several years ago I encountered a different twist. As I entered the hall for the banquet of the Organization of Protestant Men, I was met by the motivational speaker, Tremendous Jones who was shaking hands with everyone. He asked my name. When I told him he became ecstatic. “Not the Arthur Andersen?!” He shook my hands vigorously.

You may not believe this, but in the past few years several strangers have phoned for the Arthur Anderson of the Accounting firm. We were in a small coffee shop recently. A dead-serious woman approached me to request that I sign a petition that would help her with the zoning commission. I tried to put her off with my name, hinting for obvious reasons my signature may not be reliable. She stared at me, wondering what I was talking about. She had not read any news. She pursued my signature with the comment: “But you didn’t kill anybody, did you?”

It has surprised me to discover that the indictment against Arthur Andersen is seen as an attack on the person, more than the firm. Apparently personalizing it sparks more vengeance upon big shots in the corporate world.

Now I don’t worry much about investments and companies trying to hide losses. But I do wonder if I ever paid back my parents when at six year of age, I charged eighteen cents worth of candy on my folks account at Renstrom’s Grocery store?