I failed at taxes.
Filing electronically, I filled in one blank incorrectly (previous year’s adjusted gross income to be exact), and consequently had to call the IRS to get the correct information. I waited until 8 a.m. when their customer service was available, called, went through the series of pressing buttons, followed by waiting for a service representative to answer my call. I waited for thirty minutes.
What got to me was not the same classical songs played in a loop, but rather, that every couple minutes or so, the music would cut, and an automated voice would say “Our service representatives are helping other customers. Your call is being processed in the order it was received. Do not hang up. Please continue to hold.” Every time I would hopefully straighten up and almost pick up the phone (I had it on speaker after I tired of holding it to my head).
As the minutes dragged, I began to wonder what kind of problems people might have that would require me to wait literally half an hour, having called as soon as was possible.
“Hello, Service Representative. I was wondering, what kind of form do I need to fill out for drug money as additional income?”
“My dog makes money in commercials. Can I claim him as a dependent, or do I need to get a 1040EZ for him? If so, where can I find a dog’s social security number?”
“I saw pictures of the flood on T.V. My favorite coffee shop closed downtown Cedar Rapids. I can claim flood relief for emotional damage, right?”
Really, what kind of issues could there possibly be? I thanked God that mine was simply a matter of pertinent clerical records, easily retrieved by answering questions about my name, address, ss number, filing status, and how I filed last year.
I also felt sincerely sorry for the poor woman answering these calls. Firstly, she works for the IRS; not exactly an employer one would be proud to associate with. It was also a little disheartening that she identified herself with a number, rather than a name, even a first name. I feel like this world is becoming even less personal, and the wear on people shows. My other thought was that maybe the number identification was to ward off the troubled people who might consider stalking their IRS service representative. There is also the fact that she works answering phones for customer service, probably fielding a deluge of angry, stressed, frustrated, confused people who hate the government for taking their money. Yuck.
However, all of these contributing factors pale in relation to her tone of voice. It was weary. This poor woman emanated such a feeling of tiredness and little satisfaction, that my heart instantly went out to her, even through the telephone, and even though I have absolutely no idea who this woman is.
Do you ever feel heavy with the weight of life? Even a voice can betray weariness of soul. Although I have spent most of my life without that weight, there are plenty of days God gently reminds me of what life could be like. It reminds me of what I have, and awakens me to what other people are still searching for.
I look around at others (and a whole lot at myself) and often wonder, how could we NOT reach out to everyone?? Have we become so jaded and comfortable, so selfish that we could possess literally everything we need… and keep it to ourselves? In addition to Christ, we find hobbies, status, wealth, jobs, even significant others to “complete” our worlds…. rather than realizing that we should feel a little uncomfortable about the state of the world and venture outside of our self-derived universes.