Modern-Day John Henry Dies Trying To Out-Spreadsheet Excel 11.0

Top Headlines


Cake Just Sitting There

Take It

CHICAGO—Assuring you that there was nothing to worry about and not a soul around who would see you, sources confirmed Tuesday that a large piece of chocolate cake was just sitting there and that you should go ahead and take it.

Roommate Skulking Around Edge Of Party Like Victorian Ghost Child

SEATTLE—Appearing initially in the far corner of the living room and then several minutes later on the threshold between the kitchen and the hallway, local roommate Kelsey Stahl was, by multiple accounts, seen skulking around the edge of a house party Friday like a Victorian ghost child.

Man Praying Interviewer Doesn’t Ask Any Questions

MINNEAPOLIS—His mouth going dry and his palms growing sweaty as he arrived at the offices of Regent Advertising Partners to interview for an open account manager position, local man Devin McKee reportedly prayed Thursday that the hiring manager wouldn’t ask him any questions during their meeting.

Man Had No Idea Cough Was Going To Be Wet One

MUSKEGON, MI—Caught completely off guard by the viscous lump of sputum that was dislodged and sent rocketing upward from his lower respiratory tract, area man Luke Reese confirmed Wednesday he had no idea his impending cough was going to be a wet one.

Area Man A Staunch Single-Gender Voter

JOHNSTOWN, PA—Saying it was the only factor he considered when deciding who to cast his ballot for, local man William Swanson, 44, told reporters Thursday he is strictly a single-gender voter.

Weird Relative At Family Reunion Knows How Everyone Related To Each Other

WELDON SPRING, MO—Saying she possessed a seemingly limitless wealth of information on various cousins, step-siblings, and in-laws, sources at the 2016 Webb family reunion this past weekend confirmed that weird relative Susan Amos, 73, exhibited a strikingly intricate knowledge of how everyone was related to each other.

Woman Worried She Doing Bad Job Enjoying Massage

MALVERN, PA—Silently wondering throughout the hour-long appointment if there was anything she could be doing to enhance the experience, local woman Caitlyn Leigh reportedly worried Wednesday that she was doing a bad job enjoying the full-body massage she was receiving.

Cyclist Clearly Loves Signaling Turns

MILWAUKEE—Judging by the firm outward thrust of the woman’s arm and the length of times she held the gestures, witnesses confirmed Wednesday that a local bicycle rider clearly loves signaling turns.

Mom On Vacation Marveling At Time Difference Compared To Home

SAN DIEGO—Having already pointed out when everyone back home was getting off work and when the local nightly news was starting, area mother Pam Westin spent much of the first day of her family’s week-long California vacation marveling at the time difference compared to where they lived, sources confirmed Tuesday.
End Of Section
  • More News
Up Next

Modern-Day John Henry Dies Trying To Out-Spreadsheet Excel 11.0

BALTIMORE—Office laborers across the nation are mourning the passing of Wallace Peters, 42, the mythic three-column accountant at Chesapeake & Ohio Consultants who pitted himself against Microsoft's latest version of the popular spreadsheet program Excel.

Although Peters was able to balance his sheet a full 10 seconds before the program did, the man celebrated in song and story as the "cubicle worker's John Henry" was pronounced dead of a coronary thrombosis late Monday evening.

The late Wallace “Wally” Peters, whom colleagues are calling a 21st-century John Henry

"He died with his pencil in his hand," shift supervisor Thomas Kaptein said. "Wally Peters was an accounting-driven man."

Peters was known for remarkable physical attributes. Sources from Chesapeake & Ohio report that the accountant had a neck so skinny, his necktie had to be slung a dozen times around it. Those who worked closely with Peters say he had the strength of one-tenth of a man, could tabulate two tables of figures at once, and had thumbs and middle fingertips so calloused that he could sharpen a pencil with his bare hands.

Peters challenged the computer after an interoffice memo announced that Excel's powerful upgraded accounting software would render jobs in the accounts receivable division obsolete and result in sweeping layoffs. Although warned repeatedly by his colleagues in billing, Peters insisted that he could beat the software "to the bottom of a large balance sheet of bedrock-hard figures."

Accounting crewmen who worked alongside Peters said his legend as an accounting hero was formed by his willingness to answer to the challenge.

"He'd tell us, 'Now, 20 rows down, the accounting's hard as granite—it's the hardest thing an office man can stand,'" said Huddie Ledbetter, one of Peters' former trainees, "'but you keep your pencil sharp, and you keep your pencil working. It's the life of a numbers-crunchin' man.'"

Sources say Peters, who was born to poor temp workers in eastern Virginia, would often go to offices where his mother worked and sit on her knee. According to his family, he once took up her pencil and said, "Pencil be the death of me. Oh, Mommy, this pencil be the death of me."

Assistant accountingman William Broonzy said he would never forget the sight of Peters battling the mechanical spreadsheet.

"The Excel spreadsheet started off to working, with its hourglass running hard there on the screen," Broonzy said. "But old Wally Peters had his pencil filling columns, throwing graphite off like locomotive steam.

"It threw graphite like a smokestack throwing steam," he added.

"He was adding up three columns like a thresher threshing wheat," said Kaptein, who admitted feeling some remorse about allowing the contest to happen.

As the software whirred away across the desk, Peters' coworkers report that they knew the big numbers would put Wally to the test.

Peters matched the spreadsheet cell for cell, even though complicated quarterly-returns numbers for one of Chesapeake & Ohio's largest clients, Greater Southern Intellectual Properties, slowed both man and machine.

Witnesses said that when Peters wrote his balance down, he lifted his head up with pride, secure in the knowledge that he had saved his colleagues' jobs. As the sheets finally came off the printer, Peters laid his pencil down and died.

"We all saw it happen," Broonzy said. "He just laid his pencil down and died."

"When I hired him, he said, 'Boss, I am a born accountant. I can add a thousand numbers in my head,'" Kaptein said. "A thousand forests were felled for his pencils with their lead, and now poor Wally Peters lies here dead."

Shortly after Peters' death, top executives announced that all of the company's accountants will keep their jobs, but they will be trained to use Excel.

Survived by his wife, Peters will be buried at Mount Marian Cemetery next Sunday, pencil in hand.


Sign up For The Onion's Newsletter

Give your spam filter something to do.

X Close