Did you use Turbo Tax or go to an accountant? I used to go to an accountant but money’s been tight the past couple of years. I miss my accountant. She was nice and always saved me money. The first time I went to her she said, “You gotta look out for you.” Then she punched a guy in the face.
It was my first year living in New York City. I was 21, going to acting school and waitressing to pay the rent.
“Welcome to Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, a theme restaurant that revolves around a movie that came out over ten years ago! Would you like me to serve you my dignity now or later?”
One day I got a letter from corporate headquarters. I thought it was a thank you card or gift certificate to Best Buy for being such a good waitress. Nope, just my W2 form announcing it was time to file my taxes.
Thanks corporate! This is just what I need to remind me that I don’t get paid enough to be a dancing monkey for your restaurant. Let me walk over to H&R Block so they can remind me too!
This was the first time I made enough money to make filing my taxes a requirement. I don’t know if you remember what it was like to file your taxes for the first time. It’s a pretty intimidating experience. There are a lot of numbers and personal questions involved. I’m not good with either of those so the idea of spending my afternoon dealing with both of those things produced considerable anxiety.
When I arrived at the office for my appointment, I met Tosha. She was a petite African American woman with a friendly smile.
“Come on back. Nothing to be worried about.”
I believed her.
Tosha started to look over my paperwork. She invited me to sit down at her cubicle. So I did. It was located toward the back half of the office. My chair faced the front door. Tosha and her desk were between me and the door making it difficult for me (if I had wanted to) to escape/make a run for it. This is a very important detail to remember. A windowless bathroom was to my right.
About a handful of people who had appointments waited in the front. One man came in who did not have an appointment. He demanded that Tosha answer all his questions.
“How much is this property tax? I ain’t paying it.”
“I’m married. That helps right?”
“I still don’t understand. Man, I don’t have time for this shit.”
As this went on it became clear that the man was unstable. Tosha kindly told him that she didn’t have the answers and he would have to see a specialized tax accountant.
“No. You answer me now.” And he threw his papers onto her desk. That’s when Tosha turned to me and said…
“You gotta look out for you.”
I didn’t have time to process that statement before she stood up, knocked his papers to the floor and then, in a very deliberate manner, stepped on them in her four inch lime green stiletto heels, leaving tiny heel piercings on this man’s tax documents.
It was at this moment I realized things were not going to end well and I was trapped. As Tosha threw her first punch, I watched as everyone else scattered out onto the street.
“Get the cops!” someone yelled from outside.
Save me! I thought as the walls of the cubicle came crashing down on top of me. The man had thrown Tosha against it. She wasn’t hurt but now she was going to make him pay. Her words, not mine.
People always wonder what flashes through a person’s mind when they are in a situation like this. Here’s what went through mine.
Someone here is going to have a gun.
Overly dramatic? Maybe. But that’s what Papa Walker taught me when I was seven years old. “You never know who will have a gun so always be on the lookout and get down if you ever hear shots.”
So I hit the floor and crawled army style to the bathroom. I crouched behind the door and listened as the fight continued.
I couldn’t tell who was winning for a while. There was some muffled scuffling and I heard Tosha mutter, “Who’s the bitch now?” I poked my head out and saw her pinning the man to the ground, twisted on his back like a pro wrestler, sans shirt, her lacy black bra on display for all to see.
Two cops walked in and I darted back behind the door. No way was I going to the precinct to be a witness for this mess.
Tosha and the man decided they would not press charges against each other. I could feel the air settling and the threat of danger was now being replaced with the sweet promise of opportunity. I knew all I had to do was wait until the cops left and my taxes would be done for free.
“Oh you’re still here?” Tosha said as I emerged from the bathroom. “Sorry bout that, let’s finish taking care of you.” We shared a laugh over how stupid men are and she did my taxes at no cost.
Today I salute all the Tosha’s of the world. Thank you for throwing it down and getting your clients the biggest refund possible. Godspeed.