I don’t get doing taxes. I don’t understand the math, I never know what they need to know or what the hell is going on at H&R block once I get there. The questions they ask me seem to make sense but as soon as I leave it all flies out my ears. When it comes to all those t4s and what’s important in all my scraps of paper, I am lost. And this is on the best of days.
Doing taxes is so stressful for me, and this year I managed to put it off until the very last minute. I believe April 30th is the deadline and today on the 26th, I finally gathered up the courage to just get it over with.
I got a ride to the nearest tax place from Ryan who was on his way to work. He dropped me off on the corner with my bag of ‘tax stuff’ and I was on my own.
Don’t get me wrong, everybody at H&R block is always very friendly and very helpful but today they were asking me all kinds of things I didn’t know the answer to that I should have known. I literally didn’t know if I worked “for myself” or not; one of the first questions they ask you to determine which agent you have to talk to. What kind of idiot doesn’t know if she worked for herself or not, you ask? Well, the kind who did piecework transcription for a post-doctorate student at UVic for a year…I thought it was kind of sub-contractor work, but then my paychecks came from the university…so it’s confusing, right?
Right off the bat, though, I looked like a retard. And felt stressed out and embarrassed.
Then out of one of the little cubicles came a husband and wife duo. The husband was one of those “I’m the funniest guy at my office” kind of guys. Loud talking, but sort of well-meaning. He might have been a car salesman or an insurance agent. Obviously this guy had no social etiquette whatsoever, because the first thing he did was start asking me about my chest tattoo while I was sitting in the waiting room clutching my bag, cheeks still burning from the “do you work for yourself” conversation.
I mean…it was out of control inappropriate. And imagine all his lines spoken in a condescending talking-to-your-teenage-daughter’s-friends tone, to add insult to my annoyance.
Him: Whoa, look at you! Where do you get your ink done?
Me: (wince) Mostly Tattoo Zoo.
Him: Tattoo…ZOO? What’s that?
Me: It’s on Wharf street…
Him: Ah yeah, I know the place.
Me: Hm. (looks away, hoping to dissuade more conversation)
Him: What’s that on your chest there? A butterfly?
Me: It’s a bee.
Him: Why did you get a bee on your chest?
Me: (shrugs, looks away with kind of a mad face)
Him: Oh yeah, you don’t know, huh? (laughs) So are you gonna get it all colored in then? Like a bright pretty little yellow bumble bee?
Me: It’s a honeybee.
Him: (super condescendingly, like it doesn’t matter) Oh! It’s a honeybee.
(Meanwhile, his wife is taking care of all the paperwork and business.)
Him: (looks me up and down…btw I’m pretty covered up, but my v-neck sweater and my mid-calf-length tights show the tattoos there) You got ’em all over ya!
Him: How does that happen? Do you just go there and say “Stick em on me!”?
Me: Well I work in a tattoo shop so…
Him: (laughs) That makes sense then. This might be out of the blue but do you get those guys to give them to you for free?
Me: (doesn’t answer)
Him: And what does this one say? It looks like it’s in Russian.
Me: It is. It says “bibliophile.”
Me: BIBLI…(sigh) book lover.
Him: It says that in Russian?
Him: So why’d you get that?
Him: I mean, it’s kind of weird, you having Russian on your leg and all…
Me: Yeah well we had a guest artist where I work from Germany and it became a big inside joke and…then I got it tattooed on me. I guess…?
Him: That’s good that it has a story, they all should have stories. And mean something to you.
Him: I see you have one on your foot there! What is that? A clown?
Me: (fake laugh) (I’m trying to be nice here but he’s REALLY trying my patience at this point.) It’s a party panther.
Him: A what?
Me: (I moved my shoe and showed him.) Party panther.
And then I felt a panic attack coming on. The place turned grey and I got tunnel vision.
Me: (Kind of rambling, trying to distract myself) And I have a party wolf on the other side. (I struggle hard to get my feet to move correctly, they’re kind of numb and there’s a disconnect between my foggy brain and the grey world where my feet are.)
Me: (I finally get my shoe off after three tries.) See?
And I don’t really remember the rest of our conversation, and then they left. A young man, I’m certain younger than me then came out of an office and said he could do my tax stuff and we figured out that I did not work for myself, because my paycheck came from somewhere else.
I went into his office, shoved a pile of stuff onto his desk and hoped he’d just take what he needed and give the rest back to me like the lady did last year. Instead, he looked at each thing, asking me what it was, why did I bring it, etc. Stuff like the forms that told how much interest I didn’t pay on my student loans and…I don’t know, I just brought anything that looked tax-y. Then it came up that I graduated school in April.
Him: Was that April 2010?
Him: Was it just last year that you graduated?
Me: Uh…I think…so…?
Him: Two thousand and ten?
Me: …yes? Was it…yeah. Um…I think it was.
What the hell you guys? I couldn’t remember when I graduated. Last year. I was in a crazy fuzzy headspace…so confused. Anyway I had forgotten to print off my tuition tax info and bring it in with the rest of my stuff because I was done with school FOREVER and never thought I’d have to think about it again.
Him: So you don’t have it?
Him: Well, can you just log on to the university website and print it out?
Me: I mean, I think I have the password written down…I don’t really remember how to log in…
Me: Uh…yeah I’ll just…(I fumble in my bag for like a minute, pull out my dayplanner, and see that all I have written down from UVic is my student number.) yeah…maybe I can…I’ll try.
Him: Okay well I’ll just go to the other room and get more staples and you can use my computer to do that.
Ten minutes later…
Him: (Leaning on the door frame, looks up from iPhone) So…how’s it coming there?
Me: (SO FRUSTRATED) I can’t log in.
Him: Why don’t you call them? Here’s my phone.
Me: (In total panic-attack mode again) I can’t. The website says it’ll take too long to phone and they want you to e-mail them your questions and that’s going to take too long. I’m wasting your time. I’ll come back later. I have to go home. I’ll just go home.
Me: I can’t do this right now. Can I just go? I’ll just go home and come back later?
Him: Do you…want … to … make an appointment for tomorrow maybe?
Him: I can see you tomorrow evening.
Me: Yeah sounds good see you tomorrow okay bye (I clumsily get up and walk straight out the door, not even checking if I was supposed to pay anything for that waste of his time…guess I’ll find out tomorrow.)
I walked to the intersection, toward the bus stop…where my bus was just pulling away. So I walked all the way home. It took about an hour. And half way there I noticed something strange. I was talking to myself while I was walking.
Me: Fuck fuck fuck. It’s okay. It’s okay.(I realize I’m talking to myself out loud, feel like crying. Stop talking.)
But I eventually got home and figured it all out. Writing it all out made me feel better and gave you a little glimpse into my crazy. Tomorrow should be better. I’m prepared now. And I’m making Ryan come with me because there is no way I’m answering any question with “I don’t know.” tomorrow.
To hell with this day.