Wars Have Been Started With Less Provocation

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Did she really say what I just heard? Surely not! Yet the words sounded strangely like, “I don’t think I would have waited until three days before something was due to complete the form.” As she turned the corner headed toward the kitchen, the General (aka – my wife) added a side note, “But that’s just me personally.” My immediate thought was, “Wars have been started with less provocation”. The General doesn’t have a mean streak, but she does have the unique ability to push all of my buttons.

Okay, you’re right. You know me too well. I knew when the words appeared on my computer screen that you’d call my hand on it. The line about “wars having been started with less provocation” was way down the list of things that first came to mind when I heard those words. I might have been willing to cut the General some slack, but a few minutes earlier she made the insightful observation, “You’ve just been chasing rabbits for the last hour. You didn’t even need the form you’ve been looking for.” I hate it when she is right and I am wrong. I read the fine print. She was right. I was wrong. Forgive me. That was a slightly inaccurate reporting of the facts. I didn’t read the fine print. The General read it to me.

Needless to say, Sunday afternoon didn’t turn out as I anticipated. It was really out of a sense of obligation that I opted to open Turbo Tax in order to quickly finish our taxes for the year. Actually, I completed all but one form last weekend. The form that was needed was not accessible through Turbo Tax Deluxe. Thoughtfully, the preplanned electronic notice indicated that for an additional $30 the premium package could be downloaded. It would include the additional form I needed.

I needed to access one form; one simple lousy form that couldn’t take more than fifteen seconds to complete. You’re right. That is “unrealistic magical thinking” on my part. A one-page IRS form will have five pages of instructions. Perhaps I’m unknowingly a borderline conspiracy theorist, but I was angry. Actually I was angry with Turbo Tax. I’ve been using their “paint by number” simplistic tax preparation program since it was first introduced. I was angry that everything I needed was not in the “Deluxe Turbo Tax” package.

I needed a form to report capital gains or losses on the sale of stock. It is my last piece of responsibility related to being executor of my mother’s estate. We’re not talking about a lot of stock. My mother had been a devoted employee of the J.C. Penney Company and across the years she periodically took her options of purchasing stock. From what I could determine from looking up the prices of stock on the days she exercised her options, it’s value had plummeted to about 18% of its initial value when it was purchased.

Actually, my mother was a devoted customer of J.C. Penney’s long before she was an employee. During my childhood years, she purchased all of our clothing at the downtown store. Sometimes if the purchase price was outside her household budget for that week, she’d select items and put them on lay-a-way. My mother prided herself on our appearance and she always ensured we were properly dressed. I don’t think I ever owned a pair shoes during childhood that wasn’t purchased at Penney’s.

Yesterday afternoon’s experience of attempting to finish up our taxes proved to be an extremely frustrating experience. For one thing, I made the discovery that when I entered all of our information last weekend, I failed to select the save button. Consequently, I’m not nearly as ready for Wednesday to get here as I previously thought. It will literally be the last minute before our taxes are ready. The General is right, “She wouldn’t have done it this way”.

Actually, she’s never done it. She has never completed the forms for filing our taxes. She’d be far more skilled than I, but somehow taxes got relegated to the responsibility for the husband. Did I mention this is the same husband who doesn’t carry a checkbook or debit card? The biggest fear is that I’ll lose them. I’m not prone to overspend. And the General’s trusting me to do taxes? Actually, if you learned to “paint by number” as a kid, you can do Turbo Tax. It is simply one step at a time.

Secondly, Sunday afternoon when I selected the upgrade to “Premium” on Turbo Tax package, I received an electronic printout indicating the program would be mailed to our home address. Mailed? Are you kidding me? That piece of information was the most disturbing part of Sunday’s misadventure. I was expecting an immediate download. I was furious!

There is good news on the horizon. According to their website, they will be open to answering telephone calls at 5:00 a.m. You can rest assured that I will do my best. Unfortunately, I still have no voice. Throw that into the equation and it equals a lot of stress. I can promise you, the General isn’t going to get up at 5:00 a.m. to talk to anyone. Besides that, taxes are my responsibility. She knows I’ll figure it out.

So, what thoughts really came to mind when the General announced, “I don’t think I would have waited until three days before something was due to complete the form” ?

My first thought was, “Thou shalt not kill is one of the big ten.” My second thought was, “You’ve got a lot of nerve!” I decided not to pursue that line of thinking. It would have been the catalyst for a very unpleasant conversation. My third thought was the first line of the Serenity Prayer. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference”. By then, I thought it was funny. The General really does have a lot of nerve.

The General just stopped in my office to say goodnight. Actually, that’s not true. She stopped in my office to say, “If you’re going to be out of town on Tuesday and Wednesday, that means you have to get the taxes done tomorrow”. Okay, I’m stupid! I took the bait. I responded, “The good news is we can call the folks at Turbo Tax in the morning at 5:00 a.m.. In the event I can’t talk, you can do the talking for me. “No Sir”, were the first words that came out of her mouth. I’m not making this up. By the way, it didn’t sound very respectful. She ranted something about my waiting until the last minute as she headed to bed. I don’t think she’s inclined to help me out on this one.

Lots of thoughts are ricocheting in my head including, “Next year we’ll file separately as a married couple”. That will teach her. Probably not, she’s no longer working. I’m not sure you have to file income tax if you have no income. Obviously, I’m in this for the long haul. Maybe I need to get back to the Serenity Prayer.

All My Best!

Don

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