Working for a Living for July 12, 2012

For Weekly SurgeJuly 10, 2012 

Tia Wainright:

Numbers Game

Tia Wainright, originally from Charleston, has been a Myrtle Beach resident since 1999. She attended Coastal Carolina University for a time, but says she did not finish. “I could never figure out what I wanted to do,” she says. “I still don’t know.”

She started with early childhood education but says she soon realized that it felt like it was all about wiping noses and changing diapers. “I knew I didn’t want to do that. Then I got into political science, and my Dad said, ‘what are you going to do with that,’ – and then I was like, ‘you know what - I’m just going to be a waitress, I guess.’”

It didn’t take her long to realize that she didn’t want to be a waitress anymore either. Wainright went to a temp agency and landed a receptionist job at Duncan, Farmer, Munden, McIlrath & Cobb, PA – a tax and accounting firm in Myrtle Beach []. A dozen years later, she’s still there, although her duties have morphed through the years.

“It was a meteoric rise,” she laughs. “I started out as receptionist and then learned some bookkeeping and how to do some easy tax returns – then I started doing some office administration, and now I work in the payroll department. I’m an all utility player.”

Her workdays vary depending on whether it’s tax season or not.

“Right now I do a lot more of the office administration – and we prepare payroll for our clients, and I do general bookkeeping,” she says.

But what about when it’s an all-hands-on-deck, April 15th-looming, pressure-cooker scenario? What is she doing then?

“Pulling my hair out, mostly,” she says. “And I’ve only cried once during tax season. There’s tax preparation. I file all of the extensions and am in charge of all of the electronic filing. I still do the office admin and payroll. Those duties are still there.”

An interesting aside is the fact that Wainright says she hates math. “The fact that I am in this profession is kind of funny. I’m an English/history kind of person, but thank God for adding machines and computers.” She admits that she was very nervous at first, coming into something that seemed to be so important. “You don’t want to make mistakes on somebody’s tax return and cause a problem for them. I was pretty concerned, but in the end it was not that hard and I just caught on to it. I’m very trainable.”

Her life outside of work is proof that not all bookkeepers are relegated to a back room with a green visor and a banker’s lamp. She has been involved with the Carolina Improv Company. “That was way out of my wheelhouse, but other people told me I did pretty well. It took away some of my inhibitions about getting up in front of people and being ridiculous. I mean I was kind of ridiculous to start with, but it taught me to be more comfortable with my ridiculousness.”

Wainright loves to challenge herself, and has done the Polar Plunge, mud runs, and recently the Divas Half Marathon in North Myrtle Beach. “I did it in like three hours and five minutes,” she says. “For it being my first half-marathon, I was really proud. I ran well over more than half of it – probably about 10 miles and walked three.”

She just signed up for a kickball team through the City of Myrtle Beach and is a member of the Myrtle Beach Civitan Club, a civic group supporting such organizations as the Miracle League, Special Olympics and the Waccamaw Youth Center.

One might spot Wainright at Sun City Café in Myrtle Beach or perhaps dining in Murrells Inlet. “I love to eat. It’s like my favorite thing.”

She also loves to read, and although she owns a Kindle, she admits that there is something special about the feel of a real book. “Right now I’m reading “ Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” by Jenny Lawson. She’s a blogger and absolutely hysterical.” She also enjoyed “ The Hunger Games,” but “ 50 Shades of Grey” – not so much. “I don’t get it. I thought the writing was horrendous. And if you ever read a Nora Roberts book, you’ve read steamy sex. I don’t feel like this deserves all of the hubbub it’s been getting.”

Wainright says she plans on staying put on the Grand Strand unless she wins the lottery. “In which case, I’ll be in Fiji.”

Know of a local with an interesting job or career that should be given the Working 4 A Living treatment? Contact Roger Yale at

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