Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

c.2013 New York Times News Service

As a partner and co-CEO at CohnReznick, I’m meeting with clients, visiting our offices or going out on business development calls all the time. Last year I flew about 200,000 miles just in domestic flights.

I love talking to people on planes, but when I say I’m a CPA who works for an accounting and consulting firm, there are always a few people who stop talking. I’m a friendly guy and I like to learn about other people, so no one should worry that I’m going to bore them with tax code.

Some seatmates love the fact that I’m an accountant. That’s because they want to talk about their money problems. I’m amazed by the stories I sometimes hear. I’m a complete stranger, yet people will talk about how a son-in-law or friend got into trouble with the IRS. If someone has a question, I’ll try to answer. But if someone tells me about their specific issues, which may be skirting the law, I stop talking. I’m not their priest or their legal counsel. I have told a few people they probably should get themselves a good tax attorney.

I don’t mind flying, and am very appreciative of the attendants. They have a tough job, especially now when they have to deal with so many irate passengers. I think they deserve more respect.

I think some of the unsung heroes of airports are the cleaning crews. They have to put up with more than you’ll ever know.

Back in 1982, I was traveling throughout the southeastern United States on a business trip. I was in Jackson, Miss., and an event I attended was running long. The weather was horrible, too, and by the time I got to the airport, my plane to Memphis, Tenn., had already left. There weren’t any alternatives until the next morning. At the time, the airport was very small. It was late at night, so I just waited there. My hope was to fall asleep in a chair and catch the first flight out the next morning. The airport was pretty empty, but there were a few other people milling around, probably because their flights were delayed or canceled because of the weather.

Just as I was dozing off I heard the sound of a cricket, which is a pretty unmistakable chirpy noise. It was a pleasant sound and no big deal, but I thought it was strange that I was hearing it while I was stuck in the airport. A few minutes later, I heard more cricket chirps, and so did everyone else. Within a few more minutes, it was like we were in cricket hell. The chirps were nonstop. It was a cricket party.

We saw a maintenance guy come running by who told us that some teenagers had played a prank and let thousands of crickets loose at the other end of the airport. I don’t know if there were thousands, but there was certainly more than two because the chirpy noises were incredibly loud and growing louder.

It’s not like you can ask crickets to leave the building. These things are small and wily, so the maintenance crew brought out Shop-Vacs to try to suck them up. It apparently worked because the cricket noises eventually faded away. Before that night, I used to like the sound of crickets. I can’t say I like that sound anymore.

Q: How often do you fly for business?

A: About twice a week, mostly domestic, with some international.

Q: What’s your least favorite airport?

A: Westchester County, N.Y. If there’s a problem with a plane, you’re never getting out of there. For international flights, it has to be Chennai International in India since it’s just tough to navigate.

Q: Of all the places you’ve been, what’s the best?

A: The Ritz at Half Moon Bay in California. The golfing is fantastic and the whole place is just very beautiful.

Q: What’s your secret airport vice?

A: French fries from any fast-food place. My wife won’t let me have fries when I’m home, so I get them at the airport.