Sunday, February 24, 2008

Taxes Schmaxes (Active Rain re-post)

(This essay originally got 'buried' at Active Rain back in January so hopefully, Google has bigger kids than me to kick duplicate copy sand on before the next page ranking comes out. I used to be featured on AR quite often but now that there are over 70,000 members and HouseValues is involved, an infrequent blogger like myself just gets lost in the multitude of hourly posts. Hey, if I'm going to write for thin, cold air then it might as well be here in sweet cold Chicago.

I'd rather be ignored locally than nationally any time and the truth is, business has so increased that writing at all is a time allotted struggle--thus the recent rash of picture posts and no Sis, I haven't taken up Scrapbooking as a hobby.They're good for a 1,000 words each, I'm told. Also, I've embeded a new video toward the bottom of my sidebar. Of course, it has to do with me and my world. Me, me, me, as I like to say...)

I was half-listening to a lady being interviewed on NPR a few weeks back as I drove in a gazy daze out of the city and toward the general direction of Canada. I was running late for an appointment with my tax Wizard, a fourth generation accountant who fled from the tangle of the city 10 years ago to kick back On Golden Pond and perform his magic in a more bucolic setting. His father was an accountant, his grandfather was an accountant and every first born male for the last 500 years in his family were accountants--all pencil and paper sort of fellows from what I gathered.

My guy however, has flat screen plasmas throughout his office suite with a different financial news channel on each, and the latest in electronic everything to get his fiscal point across to the rest of the universe. He also has an IQ that hovers around the batting average of a Major League 2nd baseman. He barely had time for my call...

"Taxes, schmaxes," was his response to my initial phone inquiry two months earlier. That, and something about $200 an hour. I thought he was kidding. The mutual business acquaintance who ultimately hooked us up would soon after assure me otherwise.

"He's pricey and a little odd but he's a genius. A tax genius. A wizard, really..." she told me.

"Yeah, but $200 an hour? I don't pay my shrink but half of that," said I, lying about the shrink part.

"Your shrink sounds about as good as your last accountant." Which was true. I was my last accountant.

The lady on the radio, a spry sounding 65 year old, was talking about being 'in oneness with the all,' or maybe it was ‘one with the allness,' I'm still not certain. I immediately shot over to the shoulder of the interstate to enter the lofty, if not misquoted, phrase into the Note section of my new iPhone for later review. This is my biggest gripe with my car radio; no digital replay-no RiVo, as it were.

Normally, I would have just continued along with the 70 mph flow, eyes darting up and over, to and fro, steering with my knees in and out of the morning suburban egression and typing the qwerty with my thumbs, but I have yet to master the nuances of my newest tax-deductible gadget with its slick, electromagnetic glass face and all those colorful, vascillating screens; shrinking, expanding and spinning sideways with even the slightest tilt of the wrist. Ah, iPhone..mere marconian radio is but a relic in comparason.

The truth is, I haven't had an original conveyable thought in weeks so I risked the morning rush triple lane change maneuver and found a semi-safe idling spot alongside the poor, frozen remains of some animal who wasn't nearly as deft at negotiating the northbound lanes of I-94 as me. I looked out the window and half-wondered if it too, was now one with anything besides the pavement and the ice and the rumble of the highway. Bad omen, I thought. I said a prayer in my own way for both of our souls, remembering again, for a quick nauseating second, the box of tax records in my back seat and the IRS auditor waiting my arrival in exactly 37 minutes.

She was attending Maharishi University and studying flying yoga or some type of meditation where one can eventually learn to ‘hover,' continued the lady on the radio. She went on about sitting in silence and levitating in her mind and, well...just becoming one with everything, or allness, and I have to say, at that particular moment, I felt pretty darn mortal. It was snowing very hard, I had a back seat full of bank statements; money long spent and barely accounted for, and to be quite blunt, an IRS agent was the last person I felt like encountering that day. I believe I also experienced a sudden sensation of levitation but it wasn't of the transcendental nature nor was it anything even remotely close to what the lady on the radio was discussing. Traffic screamed by my window while I took a few seconds to gather my senses, enter my notes of oneness onto its proper screen, then push hard and away toward the Illinois/Wisconsin border town of Genoa City for a few hours of fun and games at $200 bucks per copy.

An Accountant, an Italian, and an IRS agent walk into a bar...

It was the wrong day. A Treasury Department representative was in fact, in the conference room but he wasn't there to see me. My own red letter day had been moved 'indefinitely into the future' according to my Wizard. Somehow, even with all the technology on both ends, I never got the message. This was fine. This was oneness, floating above the ground, with sugar on top, as far as I was concerned.

"Let's get some caffeine," said the Wizard, grabbing his hat and overcoat while motioning toward the conference room with a head tilt.

"Tell him he can come, too. His appointment just called to reschedule. Too bad, huh?" He said, chuckling away at 5.5 cents a second.

I froze. Why did I have to break someone else's bad news to the G-Man? I was the one who drove an hour through a blizzard to stick my neck on the block for a tax year ending in a very foggy period of my life from a previous century I barely recall. And, I was on time, too. At $200 an hour I just wanted to about face and bolt.

We made eye contact. The IRS guy got up from the table and approached me just as my iPhone pinged my e-mail with a blast of news alerts; the Dow was fighting hard to recover, the foreign markets were going apeshit, Heath Ledger was found dead...

"How do you like that?"

What? How do I like what? Why is he talking to me? My appointment was rescheduled indefinitely into the future. I was on time. I prayed for a dead animal. My Wizard said everything was cool...

"Your iPhone. How do you like it? Thinking about finally ditching my BlackBerry."

I forgot I was still holding it. The little fellow couldn't have been more than 30 years old. He wore a black shirt and wrinkled black tie with equally wrinkled pants and scuffed-up shoes. He had one of those haircuts that Starbucks baristas and bank tellers in grocery stores like to sport these days--kind of shaved, kind of not--you know what I'm talking about. He had a very soft voice. I handed him my iPhone for examination.

"Heath Ledger just died," was all I could think of to say.

He took my device, read the screen and looked me back in the eye. I thought he was going to cry. He waited a few seconds before speaking. The young civil servant, with his watery blue eyes and stark, unpressed attire indeed, appeared to have a soul. His face showed compassion and remorse. He fiddled with the screen for a moment or two before handing it back to me.

"Tax deductible if you use Schedule C," he said.

"Yeah. I know," I thought to myself. "It's my favorite Schedule. It's the whole reason I'm even here to begin with..."said I.


Geno Petro
image by fusilly

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