NOTE: This post first appeared in Liam's Grandma in 2010. Not much as changed since and revisions have been made to be true to today. Liam's Grandma thought it would be fun to reminisce a bit and just wallow in the same old misery all over again.
Hey, if you're American and you pay taxes, then you know what most of the country is going through. With that said, there are those rare Americans who, just as with their Christmas shopping, get their taxes done early:
"Oh, I got my taxes done on January 1. Well, no, I didn't actually submit them then, because my employer didn't get my W2 to me until the end of the month, but I estimated and just got it all ready...you know - plugged in some of the numbers and such."
Yes, there are people like that. Christmas shopping done in July, the tooth fairy has left money before the tooth is out, the lawn is fertilized in 3 feet of snow, AND taxes are done before they even get their W2s. I am not a big fan of people like that. Mostly because it makes me look....well....inadequate.
So you know where I'm going with this. I, WE, happen to be a couple who waits until the absolute last minute to file taxes. Why? Oh, sheesh, I don't know...hold on while I run to pull the sheets out of the dryer and, on my way, make 14 return phone calls, take the trash out, scrape that Play Doh out of the rug that somehow got there even though it's supposed to stay in the kitchen, write the article for Saponifier magazine, work on my novel, go the gym, and.....brb.
I don't even prepare the taxes...that's my husband's job. But, while he is in accountant mode, I have to be on standby. Like not more than 30 feet away from him. Because he screams out questions like a doctor asking for his scalpel from the nurse who hasn't yet scrubbed up and they are in an emergency situation out in the middle of nowhere and she's all he's got.
Today, Russ stayed home to do the taxes. When I heard that this was the plan, my heart began beating rapidly. Like the kind of adrenalin rush I would imagine an EMT gets when he arrives on the scene, yanks the defibrillator from his bag and yells, "CLEAR!" I had the adrenalin rush - big time - because Russ was staying home TO DO THE TAXES. And they had to be done TODAY.
I met with a friend this morning and after that, arrived home and he was already in tax mode, which meant I had no time to prepare - as in: no time to make snacks, light candles, put on a calming yoga CD and stand behind him, massaging his temples and responding to various questions like, "Why, why, why...."
Instead, our tax day went something like this:
Russ: "Oh my God. This program incorporated our personal AND your business categories into one report. I can't work like this. How can I work like this?"
Me: "I know, I know. I just noticed that yesterday when I was entering December's receipts for my business." (NOTE: Shut up people. Yes, I realize it's FREAKING APRIL and I only just updated my receipts and expenses).
Russ: "Oh my God...."
Tax Day is a big event in some areas. Several years ago, when we lived in Boston, April 15 involved getting on the bus at around 11:00 pm, switching to the train (Green Line) and going to the huge Post Office in, I believe, Government Center. The experience was right out of a David Lynch movie. Upon arrival at the post office, you'd be greeted by doormen in tuxes, nodding a hello and wearing a big smile. It was like they were cheering you on as you crossed the finish line, exhausted, sweaty, and ready to drop.
As people rounded the corner and got in line to have their envelopes postmarked, another tuxedoed man sat at a Grand Piano, playing lovely music (no, I am absolutely not kidding). The white tiled floors looked less sterile amidst the decorated tables mounded with free donuts, cookies and other pastries. And there was free cider, juice and Kool-Aid available for even the most discriminating palate. The place was decorated with streamers with people sitting at tables, enjoying their post-finishline beverage as they cooled off, replenished their carbs and electrolytes, and conversed with strangers - all of them brought together for one hellish reason: TAXES.
Here in Michigan, I am unaware of any such hooplah. Last year, when Russ finished the taxes and I wrote our return address on the envelope and popped a stamp on it, he sank back in his chair and closed his eyes as I sprinted to the car toward the finish line. In an age where submitting taxes is usually done with a click of a button, it's not true for anyone who owes taxes - because you have to get that check to them PRONTO. And we owed some money to the State. So, after finding out which post office was open late, I sped off to Meijer's, a local grocery store chain that also has a mini post office inside.
When I arrived, there were about 9 people ahead of me and one clerk. No food, no drinks. No guys in tuxes to greet me and cheer me on. No piano player. Not that I was expecting it anyway, but I was pleasantly surprised by the very understanding, kind clerk who took each taxpayer's envelope and handled it as if she were holding family jewels. I listened as she called "next in line" and the next marathon runner boldly stepped forward and looked into her eyes earnestly. Before handing over the envelope, every single person stared long and hard, searched her face, and queried, "Will this be postmarked April 15?" To which she smiled, nodded and repeated the same line over and over, "Absolutely." The patron watched as she walked over to the date stamp and brought that red stamp down like a judge bringing down the gavel. And then, THEN, each person said, "Do you mind if I see the date?" "Not at all," she smiled and walked back to the counter, held up the envelope and murmured some kind words as the disheveled, confused runner walked away in exhaustion.
As I approached the counter, I held the envelope to my chest in both hands, studied her gentle face and calmly said, "Will this be postmarked April 15?" "Absolutely," she replied, as I exhaled slowly, and gingerly handed it over. After she stamped it, I called, "May I see the date? Please?" "Of course," she said and smiled as I studied it carefully. "Stressful, isn't it?" she said as I nodded and replied, "Yes. Stressful. You should see my husband. I hope he makes it."
Last year, I told my sister-in-law, Robin, about my jaunt to the post office. She had been a high school English teacher for 30+ years and retired last year. Anyway, she did the morning announcements over the PA system and led the Pledge of Allegiance. Robin told me that when she said, "Good morning, students! Today is Friday, April 16," and began reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, she giggled. And giggled her way through the Pledge, all the while thinking of me, the evening before, nervously gripping my envelope and asking the woman at the counter if I could see the date stamp. Apparently, her giggling infuriated the American History teacher who, being a staunch Republican, found no humor in her less than stellar Pledge of Allegiance performance.
Robin accompanied me many years ago to one of the Boston performances of Tax Day and so, she knows all too well the humor in it - including Russ and I arguing back and forth over who is going to traipse down to the post office at an ungodly hour of the night with me finally relenting because, after all, he is the brains behind this duo and he prepares the taxes which is more exhausting than sprinting to the post office.
When Robin continued giggling through, "There is no detention today, the yearbook committee meets in Room xxx," the secretary became curious. "What's so funny?" she asked. "Oh, it's a long story," Robin replied. "One that begins in Boston back in the early 90's."
Let that be a lesson to us. Again and again and again. Next year, the Christmas shopping will be done in AUGUST. The lawn will be fertilized in FEBRUARY. My novel will be finished by the year 2018. I will put my 33 year old wedding photos into a wedding album before my 34th anniversary. Hell, who am I trying to kid?
And now, after a rigorous day of arguments, threats of divorce and castration, I wait downstairs while he finalizes the returns to see if I need to make a mad dash to the post office yet again.
Copyright 2014 liamsgrandma