Tax Day!

America and all its crazy residents truly boggle my mind sometimes. I don’t think any of us actually LIKE the process of doing our taxes, but it really amazes me how many people wait until the very last day to complete and file their taxes. And then complain about website overload or jammed phone lines or missing W-2s and inability to complete things properly. I wonder if these people also waited until the day before a big report was due in school to start working on it. Life is busy, I get it. But I truly don’t understand extreme procrastination, and that includes tax procrastination – it’s like shooting yourself in the foot – you’re the only one who really suffers.

I’ve worked for a lot of men who are extreme procrastinators. If a big project is due for a client, they purposely dick around and dick around with the thing until you’re the one left driving to the airport at 8:30 p.m. so you can make that last 9 p.m. pickup of your package. I had one boss who really believed that getting the project in at the last minute, sent via courier, somehow afforded his submission extra attention. AS THOUGH THE SENIOR VP/PRESIDENT/BIGWIG IS SITTING THERE HIMSELF WITH A BIG PILE OF MAIL, USING HIS LETTER OPENER TO OPEN ALL HIS OWN MAIL AND PACKAGES. The VP’s secretary, who is really the one opening that package, is not impressed by your last minute submission, I promise, nor do they bring it in on a velvet pillow to their boss, proclaiming, “Wow, these guys just came in under the wire! Very impressive, right, boss?”

American retailers have offered more and more “freebies” as a supposed salve to the soul-crushing, mind-numbing process of doing your taxes. And certainly, if you are one of those people that waits until the last minute, you’re going to experience some kind of misery – physical, mental, perhaps both. The concept of a reward being offered on a day so many people hate, even if you’re not a last-minute filer, has some merit. We have a real problem with work/life balance, stress and sometimes related weight problems (stress-eating induced) in this country, so it would make sense to offer something to counteract that on one of the most stressful days of the year – even if you’ve already paid, the painful reminder of how much they took out, or how much you had to pay because they didn’t take enough, deserves some type of treat. So what are we offered?

Free, trans-fat, chemical-covered curly fries (Arby’s), free cookies (Great American Cookie Company), 50% off artery-clogging, factory-farmed/mystery meat burgers (Sonic), Cinnabon bites, a free SECOND SUB at Blimpie’s, just in case one sub isn’t enough, etc. There are a few that seem to be actually related somehow to the issue at hand, such as Office Depot’s offer of free shredding.

So, just in case you don’t feel shitty enough about paying your taxes, you can fill up your body with some garbage, and feel even more shitty. That makes sense, right? I’m sure people are LINING UP in the drive-thrus in their giant vehicles so they can get their bag of free curly fries and making plans to hit as many other places as possible offering freebies today.

Sometimes I worry about the direction of our country. When will more people start to make the connection that it is not a “treat” to your body to give it food like this? I’m not saying there isn’t room in everyone’s diet for junk food – sure there is, once and a while, as long as there is balance in the rest of the diet. I took my son to a restaurant last weekend where they have fresh cut potato chips, and we got some and shared them. But this concept, which many adults have, and which adults are teaching their children, sets up an expectation that this kind of food is a reward. I didn’t “reward” my son with chips, or with the rest of his meal. It was just a meal, like any other, one which we had out because we were far from home and it was time to eat. Should candy be a “reward” for a child? Should adults “reward” themselves with curly fries because they did their taxes? It’s up to you, of course, free country and all.

I filed my taxes weeks ago, and don’t feel I deserve a reward for it, so I’ll just skip it, thanks.

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