This year, due to to some new and actually fortunate complications, I found myself unable to take on the task of putting my taxes together my own self as I have for the last ten years.
Naturally, a born again masochist like myself can't ever take the easy way, so I have never used a program like Turbo Tax or any other program, opting instead to rock it old school..as in prehistorically old. I used a pen and paper. Calculator? Pshaw. Who am I...Steve Wozniak? That's why the good Lord gave me fingers. If I ran into trouble, I could always take off my shoes. I considered using an abacus, but that's a little too high-tech for my taste.
I had to farm it out this season. In the past, I used a service that had a pop-up cubicle near the front entrance of a local Fred Meyer store, not unlike a Hickory Farms kiosk in the mall during Christmas. When I scoped out this year's model, it seems that Freddy's itself had a makeover since the last time I visited. The cubicle was in the same spot, except the lottery machine now sat behind it. Not a good omen.
Instead, like the good little sheep I am, I went with the most commonly brand name, but not because of their mass marketing campaign with that dweeb in the green bow tie and the obligatory Ojays' tune "For the Love of Money", a song I used to enjoy until their commercials turned it into a funeral dirge playing on a constant loop in the darkest pits of my soul. In my ignorance as a responsible adult, chose the name brand, thinking I'd be in good hands. I forgot that was Allstate.
The whole experience just fried my taters worse than a truck stop diner on Route 66. The nearest office of unsaid brand name sits a stone's throw from my house (a theory I am tempted to prove) and is nestled in a strip mall space parked between a Starbucks and a Hand and Stone (a massage parlor minus the Happy Ending option). This joint was slapped together what seemed to be overnight and could be struck at any given moment at the first sign of trouble, much like the temporary storefront of a numbers racket or some other nefarious operation. I expected Jordan Belfort to come out and sell me some penny stocks.
My preparer was ill-prepared to say the least or the most for that matter. I had to correct her mistakes more than once as she entered my information because she had her thumb over such trivial matters as, say, withholding taxes on my W-2 I soon discovered this was assembly line tax preparation at its most inefficient As my hour appointment passed, things looked more promising when she didn't try to rush the proceedings along, but she had many more clients that afternoon and they were a'waitin' when we went into sudden death overtime. She tried to wrap things up in a hot jif, showed me an astronomical number that I apparently owed, then had the temerity to ask, "So, should we finish?"
Gobsmacked with a sledgehammer is the only way to describe how I felt at that given moment. This nitwit had just pushed the pause button on my brain and I couldn't move. I half-way expected to see the words TO BE CONTINUED superimposed over me like a mid-season cliff hanger. I believe she tried to schlep me the hell out of there to move on to her next victim. In over my head once again like a kitten in a burlap sack flung into the Willamette River, I declined and rescheduled.
I left that afternoon a beaten and internally bloody wreck of what used to be a man. There was no way I was going to accept what this twit was handing me, but this was my Achilles heel. I had to retreat for the time being. This was in no way a surrender. I would return the next day and start the process all over. If I wasn't satisfied, I'd go over her head, an easy target at best.
The next morning before I arrived, my tax "specialist" called to inform me that she went back over the return and found we were heading down the wrong road. I didn't owe after all. I would only break even, the amount of my refund coinciding with the fee H and R was billing me.
Okay, gang, all together now:
"WHAT A SCHMUCK!"
Back in 1956, Henry and Richard Bloch lent their first initials and last name to their tax preparation company, but decided to replace the H with a K so that the public wouldn't mispronounce it "blotch". Maybe it's time to return the H to its proper place.
The only saving grace out of all this crapatola, east of Java was that I was able to claim the title writer in the space marked "Occupation" on my tax form for the very first time. I made enough last year to justify it. To paraphrase what John Houseman used to say, "I did it the old fashioned way. I earned it."
After all was said and done, it looks the only thing I ended up earning at all.
Damn revenooers, anyway.