Reverse Twist and the IRS
By Margie Bailey Rose
I loved my Õ89 Camry, but after locking myself out of it in every imaginable situation and weather, I had to admit it did not love me. The first requirement for a new car was keyless entry, then wheels, brakes, etc. After months of research I enticed a really boring, really safe, Subaru to join my family of vehicles. All went swimmingly until April 15th– always a difficult day for me. Why don't people talk about the Ides of April? Not as bad for Julius Caesar, but less than good for the average American. I know I should be glad to pay taxes, and I would be if the government spent my money the way I would prefer. Since it doesn't, I am no fun to be around at tax time.
My fixation on tax rebellion goes back many years, and I hesitate to even write about it since my sister is an agent for the IRS. (Believe me, no one is more afraid of the monster than its employees.) Being foolishly unafraid, I blunder on paying as little tax as possible and fighting them over every penny I am forced to shell out.
In San Diego we had tax parties on April 15th. A local radio station held tax-form drop-offs where cars lined up late into the night around the station, and postal employees stood by to take your envelope. It was a contest to see who would be the very last to give it up at midnight. The disc jockeys interviewed people as they waited and encouraged everyone to tell their wild and crazy reasons for filing at the last minute. The station played music on loudspeakers, and employees gave out food, prizes, and coupons for free stuff. April nights in San Diego are usually balmy, so the cars' windows were down with people shouting political comments and generally having a great time feeling sorry for themselves.
Contrast that to tax night in Washington State– rain, wind, and cold with only one post office open until midnight per town. I found the address for the open PO near me and enticed #1 into coming along with tales of how much fun it would be. He knew better but came with me, grumbling all the way about how he was missing his sleep and that we should have put our forms in his mail box in the morning. (What a stick-in-the-mud. If he didn't look exactly like his father I would swear he was switched in the hospital.)
We found the post office and to my shock, and his "I told you so," there was no one there. The building was dark with an empty parking lot. Son ratcheted up the volume of his whining, and I began to sweat a little in spite of the cold. Where was the party, the prizes, the fun, the rebellion? I insisted #1 drive around the back, and there was one postal truck with one person inside. We parked and my son started to get out when I said, "Wait, it isn't midnight yet." We sat in our van, and the postal employee sat in the postal truck, staring at each other through pouring rain, while I counted down the seconds. The drive home was very quiet.
Now I live near SeaTac Airport which has two advantages: I can get to the airport in three minutes to wait two hours for a flight, and I have a 24-hour post office a block from my house. Number one has seen the light and continues the midnight tax-rebellion trip to his post office, and I make the trip alone to mine. Alone is not much fun, but last year I had additional excitement. Waiting until five minutes to twelve, I jumped in my new car (that I can't lock myself out of) for the mad dash to the PO. There was a short line of cars, but I had a minute and a half– plenty of time. Cars continued to arrive and lined up behind me. The adrenalin began to build. Who would be the very last to have their envelope taken at the stroke of midnight?
My turn came and I pressed the button to lower my fancy automatic window– nothing happened. I pushed all the buttons– still nothing. I heard the doors lock– really wrong button! Now the doors wouldn't open, I couldn't get the interior light to come on, and the cars behind me began to honk. The bundled-up postal worker knocked on my window and wiped a hole in the rain to see what kind of maniac would pull such a stunt, then walked to the car behind me. Finally I heard a window lower and felt cold air behind my left ear. I released my seat belt, lowered my seat back, and leaned out the passenger window. The lady was several cars in back of me, so I frantically waved my envelope and called to her. She came back to my car, snatched the letter out of my hand, and I stepped on the gas.
As I slowed for the stop sign on the corner, I became aware of my heart pounding and glanced at the clock on the dash: 12:01AM. It took me several minutes to get the doors unlocked when I got home, so it seems that in my quest for a car that wouldn't lock me out, I had chosen one that could lock me in!
I must remember to be vigilant at all times– my new car hates me too.