My taxes needed to be done, which meant another visit to the salamander, which is what I call the guy I entrust with my filings. I mean no disrespect, the man in question does not actually resemble a salamander, but his last name sounds slightly like the word, and since I seemingly can’t address anyone or anything without assigning a nickname, he has been dubbed the salamander. (If people can buy car insurance from a gecko, why can’t a salamander file your taxes? Will endeavor to pitch this to H & R Block.)
Since I am
broke poor woefully underfunded financially challenged, the trip to the tax man is always a soul-shattering experience. I show up with my collection of 1099’s and W-2’s, an embarrassment of non-riches that signify my failed attempts at gainful employment from the past year. In his empty office across from Grand Central Station, after hours, I sit in a large leather swivel chair watching him hunt and peck at his laptop, entering the paltry sums I’ve accrued over the past year, the radio blaring top forty pop songs to fill the silence.
We make scant small talk, the salamander and me, and I wait to offer him the sheet of deductions I’ve typed out, sipping my Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, wondering if he’s silently taking pity on me.
As he’s printing the record, I feebly ask him how much I owe. “Same as last year,” he says. “Until you start making the big bucks.”
I chuckle feebly and scribble out a check for fifty dollars, marveling at his generosity. It’s odd to have this relationship with someone you see only once a year; like seeing your priest at church only at Christmas. But he knows me, or at least the “me” that’s on file with the federal government, a social security number and a collection of odd jobs. The salamander always gets me money back though, and I appreciate that.
He hands me a manila envelope with a copy of my E-Z file, and I head towards the elevator.
“Get home safe,” he says.
“See you next year,” I reply.