My Life as a Volunteer Tax Preparer – Ch 2.3
Yesterday’s session at the Tax Aide volunteer office was more quiet than most. I worked on three returns. One was a return that I started last week. The other two clients were unique and interesting, with one being upbeat and the other a real head-shaker.
My first taxpayer was a 75 year old widow with Social Security income and a part-time job. She had retired eight years ago as a hospital security guard. That lasted only three months, which is how long it took to learn that being retired wasn’t much fun for her. So she found another job working security at a local entertainment venue. Basically, her job is to make sure that only the entertainers enter the facility through the “stars” entrance. (This is a nationally famous venue with plenty of top talent coming through.) She loves her job and has so many stories about stars “acting up” and the common folk trying to sneak in to see them, pretending to be lost. Others have asked her to write a book about it!
Working at this facility is very popular with retirees, including those who do not need the money. One of her co-workers is an older woman who is married to one of the top neurosurgeons in town. She works purely for fun.
I say good for them and good for this company willing to reach out to the older community.
My second taxpayer was a sad story. A 71 year old widow living on a small Social Security benefit and a part-time job. The sad part? She is supporting – in her house – a daughter, an ex-son-in-law, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. That’s right – SEVEN in all. None of them has a job. One collects unemployment and another gets food stamps. This has gone on for more than a year. She told me that she is so grateful for the part-time job, not just for the money, but to get her out of the house and away from all of her family.
I felt so bad for her. As she was leaving, I told her that I hope that her family situation resolved itself soon. She made a point of saying that she intended to deliver an ultimatum about getting them out of the house. I hope that she has the willpower to follow-through on that plan.
After she left a woman working with another volunteer told me that she had heard some of the conversation. She said that until that moment, she was feeling sorry for herself that she had to support her 16 year-old grandson. After hearing the story of the woman with seven unplanned dependents, she no longer felt so oppressed.
The willingness of younger family to exploit the compassionate nature of older family can be sickening. This was one example.
I hope I don’t hear any more stories like that last one.