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This Is Your Brain On Autopilot, Part 3

, , , , | Working | April 28, 2022

I work at a tax office doing people’s taxes. My signature phone greeting is, “Hello, this is [My Name] at [Company]. How can I help?”

I’m on the line with tech support and I’m waiting on hold. All of a sudden, the hold stops.

Tech Support: “Hello?”

Me: “Hello, this is [My Name] at [Company]. How can I help?” *Pauses* “Wait! You’re supposed to be helping ME!”

This Is Your Brain On Autopilot, Part 2
This Is Your Brain On Autopilot

Taxing Taxing, Part 13

, , , , | Right | March 29, 2022

I work for a major tax company. We offer a sort of pre-paid card that your taxes can arrive on. Your taxes are not preloaded to the card. They get there when they get there.

We actually have very little to do with the cards other than passing them out. The bank is supposed to handle the customer service for the card. Honestly, we don’t have any tools to check your balance, to check up on the card, to see if a new one is coming to you, or to tell if your money is already there.

And yet, bank people send folks to us to ask questions like this when the bank’s helpline is called. We just call the helpline right back and explain to the bank helpers that, no, it’s their job, not ours. But this story isn’t about that, though that does set a background for why I get so reflexively upset when people start asking questions about the card.

Right now, we’re suffering a shortage of cards. Whenever the government drops more money — another stimulus or the advance payments of the child tax credit — most of our clients need new cards because they already threw the old ones away. The offices were supplied without projecting this kind of usage. Some of my more frequent fliers have gotten more than ten cards this year.

We’ve run out. We’re running reduced summer hours. The only office nearby that still has cards and is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday is in a mall to the north. All of their offices have cards.

Me: “Hello, this is [Company] at [Location]. How can I help you today?”

Customer: “Yeah, I’m coming in to get a [Card].”

Me: “I’m afraid we’re out of [Card] right now, but the [Mall to the north] office is open today and has them.”

Customer: “I’m tired of you guys playing around. The people in [Franchise location] said you have cards.”

Me: “That’s a franchise office. They have no way of knowing which offices have cards and which do not. I have no cards. Please go to the [Mall to the north] office.”

Customer: “Listen. You guys have my money. I’ve been to every office from West Saint Paul to here. I was told you have cards.”

Me: “I do not. Please go to [Mall to the north].”

Customer: “Your company is shady as s***, man. You took my money. I’m coming over there and I’m gonna f—”

Me: *Interrupting* “Sir. [Mall to the north]. [Mall to the north]. [Mall to the north]. If you want a card today, that is your only choice. Remember, [Mall to the north]. Thank you, goodbye.”

And I hung up.

Taxing Taxing, Part 12
Taxing Taxing, Part 11
Taxing Taxing, Part 10
Taxing Taxing, Part 9
Taxing Taxing, Part 8

On The Upside, More Study Time!

, , , , , | Learning | March 14, 2022

I’m testing to become an EA (enrolled agent), which is somewhat similar to a CPA (certified public accountant). To become an EA, you must pass three tests, in any order. These government-mandated tests are proctored and administered by a private company.

I arrive at my testing facility on the day of the test, as scheduled. Getting ready for the test is a very intensive process; I basically have to store everything in a locker so I can’t cheat.

They scan me with a metal detection wand to make sure I’m not caring in a computer, and they check my sleeves, shoes, pants, and mask to make sure I’m not smuggling in a written answer sheet.

They sit me down at my assigned computer, and I click to verify that my name is correct. The testing program then makes me verify that I agree to follow the testing rules. I click yes… and the computer freezes.

I raise my hand for help, and the proctor arrives. They click on the “Next” button a couple of times. Suddenly, the test thinks I’m on my halfway break, skipping past the entire first half of the test.

Proctor: “There you go, unfrozen.”

Me: “Ummm, that’s not correct.”

Proctor: “What do you mean, it’s not correct? You wanted to go to your break, right?”

Me: “No, I wanted to start the first section.”

We both stared at the screen in mounting horror. I’m not sure which of us said it, possibly both of us simultaneously, but I distinctly heard the word “s***”.

The proctor left to get help. When help came, they gently led me out of the testing room.

After some struggle with resetting the test, they decided to reschedule my test free of charge.

Taxing Taxing, Part 12

, , , , , , | Right | February 16, 2022

I’m a volunteer at a tax clinic. In Canada, your employer usually withholds taxes from your paycheque, and come tax time, the withholdings less your actual taxes owed is your refund.

A client comes in with a form saying they are exempt from withholdings, which is fine, but their employer has withheld taxes anyway. That’s not our problem — we just report it as it is — but the client won’t have any of that.

Client: “I demand that you fix this! I’m not supposed to be taxed at all!”

Supervisor: “Yes, based on the forms you gave us, you weren’t supposed to have anything withheld, but there’s nothing we can do about it. Your employer already withheld the funds and remitted it to the CRA, so at least you’ll get a refund?”

Client: “But why am I getting taxed?”

Supervisor: “Because… you earned a salary, and you get taxed on salaries?”

Client: “My form says I’m not supposed to get taxed!”

Supervisor: “Your form says you’re not supposed to have withholdings, but you get taxed just like everyone else.”

Client: “Then fix the return so that I don’t have income!”

Supervisor: “You mean… you want me to not report your salary?”

Client: “Yes, obviously, my form says I’m exempt!”

Supervisor: “First of all, again, exempt from withholdings. Second of all, I’m not going to do that.”

Client: “Why not?!”

Supervisor: “Because that would be fraud. It’s not worth my designation to do that. Plus, the CRA already has this info on file; it would be super easy to catch.”

Client: “What the h*** do I pay you for? How can you be so incompetent?”

Supervisor: “This is a volunteer clinic. You actually don’t pay us anything.”

Client: “I find you highly unprofessional, and I’ll find someone who’ll do it!”

He then promptly grabs all his documents and walks out.

Supervisor: *Turns to me* “We definitely don’t get paid enough to commit tax fraud.”

Taxing Taxing, Part 11
Taxing Taxing, Part 10
Taxing Taxing, Part 9
Taxing Taxing, Part 8
Taxing Taxing, Part 7

Getting A Psy-Kick Out Of Psyching Out Your Coworkers

, , , , , , | Working | September 20, 2021

I’m a paid tax preparer. I have a habit of making educated guesses about clients and, when I’m correct, saying that I’m mildly psychic.

One of my coworkers is very “anti-phooey,” to use his own words. He often gets very upset with me and tries to lecture me on how I cannot possibly be psychic, how it’s all fake, and how I should just admit it and stop pretending.

He’s right that it’s fake, but… frankly, it entertains the clients, it’s none of his business, and some of the choice words he uses in his hours-long lectures upset me.

I have a wide web of contacts, so I arrange for one of my coworkers to come to me as a fake client. Since she’s in on the joke, I have a great deal of fun with her, pretending to read her palm and explaining my “charms” to her — I wear some jewelry just for that day. I can see my angry coworker seething in the next cubicle over as I work my charms on a knowing victim.

Finally, I peak by “psychically intuiting” the amount of her W2 and entering it into the computer without opening her letter.

This triggers my angry coworker, and he barges into my cubicle.

Coworker: “There is no way. There is no way you can psychically gather someone’s W2 information. None. This is all wrong. You’re going to have to delete it and redo it. Do you want to come work with someone who isn’t a charlatan, ma’am?”

Me: “But wait! Before you call me a charlatan, check the numbers!”

Of course, they are spot on; we downloaded her W2 from the company website, and I entered it that way while pretending to be psychic.

My angry coworker splutters, quite flummoxed.

Coworker: “What?! How?!”

Me: “Magic.”

It was totally worth the resulting trip to human resources after my angry coworker’s frustrated bellowing attracted the attention of the entire office. All three of us got written up.