At the onset of January, I start to get anxious. Tax season is upon us. When I see that guy out on the sidewalk dressed like the Statue of Liberty my stomach begins to churn. We go from the festive coziness of the Christmas holiday straight into the dreaded tax season, where none of it is cozy. I don’t know why I dread it so. No that’s not true. I know exactly why I procrastinate and dread and gnash my teeth and wring my hands.
I have a version of PTSD from something that happened over thirty years ago when we were in our early years and self-employed. Apparently, it is unwise to take those quarterly reports and drop them in a bottom desk drawer when the bank balance is less than the amount due demanded by the quarterly document. It is even more unwise to ignore the letters that follow an unpaid quarterly report. Can’t get blood out of a turnip you say?…
Once upon a time on a sunny day long, long, ago my refrigerator had stopped chilling and I was anxiously waiting for the repairman. At the allotted time I heard the gravel crunching under the approaching car tires and was relieved to know my appliance would soon be saved. At the door stood a man with a grim expression in a dark suit and tie. “Hello!” I said, “Wow you dressed up to come fix my refrigerator.” He reached into a jacket pocket and presented a badge, just like they do in the movies before they drag someone off to prison. “Joe Blow,” he said, “Oregon Department of Revenue.” Now obviously, his name wasn’t really Joe Blow, but I couldn’t actually hear his name for the terrified quaking in the pit of my soul and the fear induced ringing in my ears that was taking place. That black and white movie reel went off in my head as I imagined my kids crying while they stood in the driveway watching the officials cuff me and guide me into the backseat with the policeman’s palm on the top of my head. Mommy’s going to jail.
Joe Blow interrupted my imaginings as he started in with a barrage of questioning. Finally, I found my voice and shaky as it was I managed to say, “Please, I am not a criminal, but I am an idiot!” I went immediately to the drawer and retrieved what he was asking for and pushed the messy bundle of paperwork at him. “Here is everything you want, I was just waiting until I had enough money.” Now this man, who up to this point handled himself like someone who may have had his sense of humor surgically removed, revealed an essence of a smile… a frown with a sparkly something in his eye that was not entirely unkind. I’ll keep the sordid details brief and just say he helped me unravel the mess I got us into. Imagine my disappointment though when I learned the paperwork I handed over wasn’t nearly as important as the missing money. Those lessons we learn from our worst mistakes leave a certain amount of scar tissue and tax season still makes me all quivery until I remember I am now a responsible adult, and then I relax.
Now it is only a few days until Tax Day and because I no longer stuff important papers into drawers, my mind is at ease and as I look out our big front windows here at the store happier thoughts fill my head. The whole of Medford is getting ready for the Pear blossom festivities. Things get started around noon today and go on well beyond tomorrow’s parade. Spring in Southern Oregon is far too lovely of a time to be thinking dark thoughts about taxes, and the same goes for Pear Blossom weekend here in Medford. There are non-stop fun and games planned from start to finish and as long as you’re out in our neighborhood pop on over to Pretty in Paint and say hi. First though, do what you dread because the tax man cometh and it turns out turnips can bleed.