It begins in the dingy seating area. The walls are yellowed due to the years of smoking that is no longer legal in a public buildings-thank God. The floor creaks under stained, flimsy gray carpet. There’s a crack in the window-that’s new. The chairs are worn and not comfortable, but at least we got here early enough to get a chair and not have to stand against the wall. It’s quiet. People in pairs are whispering, but the solos are staring into space, glaring out the window, or following that weird painted pipe that ends suddenly by the restroom door. In my uncomfortable chair my stomach is flipping. It’s a nervous flip that I get every year in this room. I’m worried I’ve forgotten something. I’m worried we didn’t do enough or save enough or fill out the right papers. I’m worried about the things we only remembered right as we were leaving! I turn and whisper to my husband, “God, I just hope we break even.” He agrees.
Every year I get my taxes done by Al. He’s an ornery old man who borders on curmudgeon. Every year he makes semi-sexist jokes and comments about politics that I don’t really agree with. But he also says things like, “Now lets see how much you’re gonna owe the stupid city…” so at least there’s that. Around him are women. Only women. I have never ever seen another man working there. Which is fine. I have no problem with that. While we are there, one woman brought him a brownie on a napkin, “Barb made brownies. Would you like one?”
“Oh. Yes.” he says, then takes it without saying thank you.
Moments later another woman hands him a large stack of papers. Once again he doesn’t say thank you.
It’s amazing how fast his cantankerous fingers fly across the keyboard, and I wonder if they hurt at the end of a busy work day. More so, though, I’m wondering if he’s getting everything correct! The flipping in my stomach gets worse with every screen he breezes through. As we near the end, his fingers clack faster. The room is getting smaller and quieter and yellower and he just keeps clicking…Clicking…CLICKING.
Until nothing. We are done. The printer comes alive and amazingly, we are happy! We have received some good news in this dreary old building.
Al mumbles how much I owe him for his 15 minutes of work, and once we are safely in the car one of us says, just like last year, “I can’t believe it cost that much! We should do our own taxes next year.”
We won’t though. In a sick, freaky way, Al’s has become almost like visiting Grandmas on Christmas day or the park on the 4th of July. It wouldn’t be the same. And I’m pretty sure if I didn’t have that appointment, I wouldn’t get my taxes done on time! So, this time next year, you’ll know where to find us. Unless Al retires to Acapulco and we’re forced to go Turbo Taxing! I hope that’s a ways away though. I REALLY don’t wanna have to do my own taxes.
Good luck with yours, everyone. And thanks for reading!