This story is one that I saw played out with two different clients weeks apart from each other. Both of them were single moms who had hit hard times. And they both felt the need to unburden their whole life story on me which is pretty common in a tax office. We hear lots of stories here.
Both of these women told of a recent history full of struggle, set back and heartbreak. While their stories were very different, they both had been betrayed by family members in some way, been forced out of work and were struggling to make ends meet. They both also were fiercely proud of their children and would do anything for them. I got to see pictures. But what has stuck me the most is that they both also chanted the same thing under their breath as I worked on their return. "Please don't let me owe. Please don't let me owe. Please don't let me owe."
I review tax returns right on my computer screen, spun around so clients can follow along. I go over every line, explaining where each number came from. I don't rush it and make sure that everyone is clear on every point. I keep the final number a bit of a secret, just off the screen until the very end. Sometimes I do that to delay the inevitable telling of the bad news that they owe a bundle. But it's more fun to do when I know the end result is a sizable refund. Both of these women were going to get a very nice check from the government.
I went through my explaining routine while they both waited anxiously. When I finally got to the end and they saw the final number their reactions were identical:
- First a huge sigh of relief.
- Then tears.
- Then laughter.
- Back to tears.
- Some prayers of thanks
- More laughter.