Archive for January, 2011

It’s the most wonderful time of year: Tax Season

January 26, 2011

For the year 2008, I was a teacher in Maryland and working part-time at a wine bar; I received nearly $1,200 back from my taxes. Pretty awesome, right? Well, imagine my surprise when I received only $88 back from my 2009 taxes! I worked at four places in Boston over the course of my first year here and I made significantly LESS money than I did in Maryland. But honestly, that wasn’t even the worst of it. The most challenging thing about filing my taxes was the actual filing process.

My “full-time” job was at a fine wine shop where I occasionally had to conduct cashier duties. Some of these duties included the dreadful sale of lotto. Lotto is an activity wherein shaking old people, local grocery store butchers and scraggly drunks try to win millions by spending their unemployment checks on pieces of paper. Members of the local government call it a “tax on the poor”, I call it a tax on the stupid. Anyway, one of the lotto frequenters was this elderly gentleman who looked like that crazy-eyed guy from Caddy Shack.

Just add about 50 lbs and here's our perpetrator!

He would frequently come in and talk about how his son would be perfect for me (although the kiddo was still in high school!) and how he had a great finance business, the usual. Well, it was time for me to do my taxes and I wanted to support the “little guy” instead of frequenting an H&R Block type of establishment. The elderly gentleman, we’ll call him Charles, kept talking to me from in front of the lotto machine – while scratching tickets – about how he would “give me a good deal” on my taxes. The kicker though was how he kept promising that he was a good guy and commenting on how the store manager knew him. What the hell does that mean? If I had any sense at all, I would have taken a hint from his money spending habits and crazy self-promotion. Honestly, I just wanted to get my taxes filed and put my money towards a trip to France. For some reason, I truly believed I would receive enough dough to travel! Dumb.

Charles and I met at a local Starbucks to speak about my tax situation. I thought it was odd that we didn’t meet at his office, but Charles said something about it “being easier to meet somewhere in the middle”. I worked two  minutes away from the Starbucks and he allegedly lived around the area. A bit confusing, no? Well, when we met at the coffee shop, Charles told me I would be receiving around $700 from my returns. Not enough to travel, but enough to pay off some debt and maaaaaybe buy a new pair of designer jeans! I gave up my tax stubs and Charles promised to be in touch. I held out my hand for a shake but HE KISSED ME ON THE CHEEK! This is when I started grossly regretting my decision to working with this ofe. How unprofessional! Shake my hand, you buffoon, I’m a working woman not a lunching lady.

My situation did not improve. Charles and I had agreed to discuss his findings over the phone and arrange for me to sign the necessary paperwork. However, for three days after our scheduled phone call, I could not for the life of me get a hold of the man! To be honest, I was scared. My private information, tax numbers and money was the hands of this lunatic and I had no idea where he was! I left several messages, emailed him and could think of nothing else. After nearly a week, I told the manager at my wine shop I was using Charles for tax services in the hopes that maybe he could help me reach Charles. Instead he said, “Oh no! Are you serious? That guy’s nuts.”

Great. I started to panic and had begun to think of creative ways in which to reach Charles, when he finally returned my phone call.

“Hey, Laura! Sorry, I’ve been really busy – enter some lame excuse -,” he stammered. I snapped at him. I told him I wanted to see him immediately and he needed to bring all my tax papers as I wanted to “look at them”. We agreed to meet at my place of business not only because it was convenient but because I didn’t want to be alone with the loon. He came into the shop the next day and tried to be sweet with me; I wasn’t having it.

“Did you bring my taxes?” I inquired, and walked from around the counter. No kisses this time, pal! When I saw that Charles had my file and I told him I was taking my business elsewhere. “I haven’t been able to get ahold of you for nearly a week and I don’t feel comfortable allowing you to handle my finances anymore.” I snatched the paper work out of his hands and thanked him for his time. He had drawn all over my legal documents with red, blue and green ink!

All over my taxes!

“Why did you do this?” I demanded. Charles fumbled out a response about just checking his math… all over legal documents!  Again, I thanked him for his time and told him I was taking my business elsewhere. Charles had a fit! “Well, you owe me for all the work I’ve done!”

“What work have you done? You’ve just colored on my tax documents and haven’t returned any of my phone calls!”

“W-well, I wrote down these notes,” he said, referencing a paper half-full of chicken scratch. Half of the notes were from him trying to figure out if I had insurance or not. “You’ll probably only get back a hundred bucks.”

I handed him back the rubbish and maintained a strong grip on the folder of my taxes. I then reminded him about how he had originally said I’d receive around seven hundred dollars. He denied EVER saying that but the damage was done, I was over Charles and his shenanigans.

“Fine! Well, I need to-to look in the file… to make sure I didn’t leave anything in there.” Fat chance, pal! I told Charles there was nothing more in my file for him and again, thanked him for his time. He bumbled out of the shop in a huff but I didn’t care, I had my documents back! I’m sad to say the lesson I learned was to watch who you trust with your finances. I honestly wanted to support a local business man but I nearly got dooped!

So, go to H&R Block, people, or if you can manage, complete your taxes online. I didn’t receive my $700, I didn’t even receive $100. After paying both the H&R person for his services and Taxachusetts for letting me live here, I came away with $88. Please, be wary of who you give you information out to; I learned this the hard way. Maybe you won’t.

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Several $12 martinis or a monthly gym membership

January 12, 2011

It’s common knowledge that skeezy men and tasteless  women all over the world go to bars to pick up/get picked up at some point in the week. As a member of the service industry, I’ve witnessed first hand the grotesque rituals attached to such practices and their tragic consequences. However, a new meeting ground has raised its ugly head on the breeding grounds of douche bags and loose women: The gym.

Did I ask for this? I just wanted a drink...

Perhaps this breeding ground isn’t so new after all. I remember my folks ditching Bally’s after too many people tried to pick up my then 20s something Father (go dad!). While the gym has been offering a different medium for foul pick up lines and women wearing waaaay too much make up to be on an elliptical machine, I can’t help but wonder: Where did everyone go so dreadfully wrong? When I trek over to my gym, Gold’s, the last thing I want is to be thrown some lame ass one-liner. I’m not here to speak with you, I want to repent for what I drank/ate last night, you tool. In the defense of overly tan juicers everywhere, I can somewhat understand your reasoning for prowling around the exercise floor. Women who are in the gym probably take care of themselves; this is a perfectly justified assumption since we pulled our carcases outta bed to pay homage to the tread mill. But on the other hand, I’m sweating and I am hacking up a lung – how is this attractive?

“You should exhale when you pull that towards you,” offered a gray-hair “gentleman” who was sporting a sweat band and a cut off T-shirt. He was motioning to the lat-pull machine I was using. Until a moment ago, I had been “in the zone”. Now I’m just annoyed. Please note, kind reader, that I always have my Ipod ear buds on my head regardless of whether or not the device is changed and or working. I don’t wanna be disturbed.

Duuuuude! Broooosef!

I’ve had men come up and stretch in front of my elliptical machine in the most disturbing ways imaginable. Nevermind that just steps away from where I am is a stretching room specifically designed for fowl stretching. I don’t need your ass in my face as I’m struggling to complete my exercises and I really don’t want you to change in front of me… OMG!! STOP STOP STOP! I’ve literally had to change machines to get away from this lunacy.

So please, men of Boston, refrain from coming on to women who clearly are at the gym for its designed purpose: TO WORK OUT. For the crazy, self-absorbed bitches who did their make up specifically for a 10am work out, make good use of your morning routine and push your ass in front of these crazy men before they bother those of us trying to lose some pounds. Do I make myself clear?

I can amuse myself, don't worry about me.

Ergo, the dreadful mating ritual that men and women partake in at both the bar and the gym. Both dances are foolish and embarrass those who are subjected to watching. I don’t care for either practice. I just want to drink my $12 martini at the bar and I just want to repent at the gym the next morning. Nothing more, please leave me the F alone. Thank you.

$25 and a pair of Kate Spade booties

January 3, 2011

I flew to Seattle for a whirl wind Christmas. It was even more jam-packed with to-dos than my suitcase! My best friend, Kristin – who I didn’t even get a chance to see! – said this trip was probably my busiest, save one other trip a few years back. I don’t remember which time she was referring to but my god, this trip bit me in the ass. One possible reason why everything was such a cluster f*ck was I brought my boyfriend to Seattle with me. Trying to visit with my family that I see once a year and attempting to keep my honey entertained/comfortable as well proved to be something of yard sale: All over the place. However, Christmas Day this year was aaaaaawesome! I received everything I asked for and more, the key gift being a pair of perfect black Kate Spade boots with perfect red bows!

Would you like to go bare foot or wearing my boots?

I left Seattle only four days after arriving to battle the nasty N0r’eastern storm that was rocking the New England area and leaving hundreds of flights delayed or cancelled. To be honest, I shouldn’t have been leaving in the middle of a such a storm but I had to cut my trip in half to work. Whatever. So, my boyfriend and I drove back to the SeaTac to return our rental car, leaving behind a slew of fun things left undone. I had no idea that our adventures were far from over!

The estimated cost of the Dollar Rental car was $96 for four days. I have the confirmation code to prove it. The actual price we paid was $172. Taxes, they said, and literally stopped talking to me about it. End of discussion, get the F outta here. I always end up spending more than I anticipated when I travel but I didn’t mean for it to be on something so lame. Jeans or wine perhaps, not a stupid car.

Ma gave my $25 for travel money moments before I tried to keep my shit together when I bid my fam a dieu. I figured I’d just spend the cash on booze during our layover in Denver. After returning our lame and over-priced car, we made it to the airport ticket counter to throw our bags into someone else’s hands.

“Your bag is just at the limit,” scolded the ticket lady. “Next time, put the heaviest bag up first.” Apparently we ruined her system by putting Nick’s bag on the scale before mine. I am ashamed. We waded through the line of other tourists and visitors, sauntered through customs and finally made it to our gate. Fine, no incident. Our flight to Denver was short and cramped. Nick and I played Angry Birds on his Ipad and caught up on the zzz’s that we missed during our vacation. Whoever said that vay-cays were relaxing has never traveled with me!

We landed late in Denver and I barely had time to pee. We ran to our gate and I specifically remember commenting to Nick, ” I have no idea how old people would have made this connecting flight!” I had missed my seat position of A45 because our Seattle flight took its sweet time taking off and I didn’t get to pick the seat I wanted. Who cares right? Well, I hate babies so I need to make SURE they are nowhere near me or I start to kinda freak out and get anxiety whilst they scream and their mothers just stare at them. No joke, on one of my previous flights years ago, this stupid woman was just staring in dumbfounded wonder at her wailing infant. An older, wiser woman got out of her seat, walked over to the idiot and said,

“You need to walk your baby around and bounce it.”

I still had my $25 at this point and I found some suitable seat. I took my chances with the baby situation and put my carry on luggage above me. My carry ons included a large bag of shoes and a picture of Seattle that Mom and Dad had bought for my house. It was carefully packaged in a flat, large box so not to be dented. The box itself was a present wrapped neatly in green and gold wrapping paper and one little boy said, “I wonder what she got!” Legos… a PSP… thousand dollar bills. No, just a photo. So this old guy got on the plane and wanted the space where I just placed my present. Nevermind the open bins around and behind him, only my bin will do! He took my package out and tipped it over. Sure, we both knew that there’s a flat picture in the box but what if it couldn’t be tipped over!? Dick. So, he shoved his goofy bag into my bin and tried to shove my present back on top of his luggage.

“Easy does it,” he sighed. I get up, this dude is out of his mind. My present won’t fit! I help him turn my box around a bit. “This is mine,” I said with annoy. Whatever. Everything worked out and we took off. The plane landed in Boston and the place was covered from a heavy snowfall. Our bags, or rather, the Southwest Airlines people took their sweet ass time getting our luggage out of the plane and we left the terminal about an hour after landing. Not bad, you say? TRY FLYING FOR TEN HOURS THEN COME TALK TO ME. Nick wasn’t happy about my bag collection. I had four, he had one. Sorry. I have a vagina so I pack more stuff. Plus most of the gifts were in my bag! Aaaand most of the gifts came home in my bag too. We waited and waited for the Silver Line bus to come and get us. As we’re waiting, I’m standing with our bags and Nick is trying to see where the bus stop is. During this process, he discovered the lack of airport courtesy and slipped on a patch of ice that wasn’t salted. He cracked his head on a garbage can and started bleeding! Things went from shitty to shit storm. My honey is bleeding, the bus is late, it’s cold outside, I’m tired, where’s the damn bus, I keep hearing about how many bags I have, I’m sorry, I’m sad, it’s okay to be sad, we need to stop being mad, oh look! it’s the bus. Five bucks for the ride, fine! We went from the bus to the T and rode into Harvard Square to hail a cab. Big shocker, the taxi driver didn’t speak a lick of English and I’m tried not to worry. You all remember that story from The Metro about that psycho cabby who got made at his patrons and stole the girl before she could get out at her stop? Yea. Same guy, I’m sure. We somehow managed to get to our house and everything was just lost under a mountain of snow! I whipped out my $25 from Ma. Nick had to drag all my shit around with him, so I paid for the cab. The cost was $5 something and I asked for $13 back out of my $20. We pulled our bags out of the taxi trunk and stood in a foot of snow before our house. The next question was where are the cars? In Boston during a “snow emergency” the city tows everyone parked on the wrong side of the street (you have to be all-knowing to understand which side of the street!) and they make a pretty penny before lifting a finger to deal with the snow itself. Plows come out, make a mess and return to base. Nick and I were frightened that our cars would have been claimed by this nonsense. We prepared ourselves and peered down the road. BOTH CARS WERE ON THE GOOD SIDE OF THE ROAD! I was and still am amazed. I really thought Nick parked on the bad side of the road! It was incredible. God knows how much the towing fee AND storage fees would have been! Sheesh.

The next day I took the leftover $13 I had from Ma and went to Johnny’s Foodmaster. The place has wall to wall carpeting… don’t buy the produce! I bought the fixing for breakfast (and inevitably, some other random things too!) but upon return, I realized I didn’t get eggs! I’d just used all my money so I gathered up all our empty beer bottles and returned them for the deposit fee. $1.95, aaaaaaaalright! Now we have eggs.  After a hearty eggy breakfast, we set to the task of digging out the cars. Enter my awesome boots!

That's my car and Nick's behind it.

Previously, I was apprehensive about buying galoshes. I thought they were kinda dumb and made you look like a duck. The polka dot booties are simply dreadful. But after careful research, I sent Mom three different pairs that I deemed acceptable and had her pick one out for me. I could not have asked for a more opportune time to utilize my boots, hell, I wouldn’t have asked! Nearly two feet of snow mauled Boston and had to be shoveled away in order to life to continue. My boots received a thorough christening! It took Nick and me about two hours to not only dig our cars out but also to help our landlady shovel her drive way. That wasn’t my idea, it was Nick’s. She has a perfectly fine driveway where we should be allowed to park. She can’t drive anymore because she’s really old and choppy, so her car just chills in the driveway. If we had been allowed to leave our cars in her driveway while we were in Seattle, I would have totally been fine with shoveling. But that didn’t happen at all. We busted up our backs for charity. At least I had my Christmas boots though. And I made up a banging breakfast with my $25.

 Thanks, Mom!