A Vignette

“You have very pretty hands,” she says.

I am busy signing a stack of papers. We are finally doing the deed, filing last year’s taxes.

“I have Rheumatoid Arthritis hands,” I say, taken aback by this unexpected comment. “RA loves your hands.”

“They are pretty,” the tax lady continues. “Women pay for nails like that.”

“She’s always had pretty hands,” my husband pipes in, stopping me in mid “thank you”. Now I’m really stunned; compliments I hear, but never about my hands.

I become self-conscious as I maneuver my fingers to keep the sheaf of papers flipped to one side so I can sign and date the various documents. I’m just glad to finally get this chore done. I’m exhausted from having spent hours over the previous days adding up dollars and cents gleaned from the ton of medical and pharmacy receipts accumulated. Truthfully to no avail, or to very little avail.

I’d put this off all year, filing for an extension. An extension that was rejected, the tax lady now informs us, making the day chock-full of surprises. My pen still, I stare at her in concern, what exactly does that mean? No matter, she says with a shrug. I mimic her shrug and go back to my signing.

“Did you have a problem? Were you not able to file before?”

“No,” I tell her, “I was angry and didn’t want to do it.”

My husband laughs. “There you go,” he says to her.

I ignore him.

“I was angry about my identity being stolen,” I say. “I wanted to wait.”

“Yes,” she commiserates and goes on to tell us horror stories of how hackers are able to capture your private information. It’s a terrible thing to have your identity stolen and it’s left to you to prove who you are when you’ve done nothing wrong.

During the year-long process it took to resolve this, I couldn’t help but wonder, Who am I? And who in the world wants to be me?

But the one question that burned through my mind was this: If you went through the trouble of stealing my identity, why didn’t you also steal my RA? You can have that for free, whoever you are. No questions asked, ever. You can rest assured I will never try to get that back.

The prolonged process of filing over, I stick my copies in my briefcase and stand up.

“Thank you for everything,” I say, “now I’m going to go have a drink.”

She stands up as well. “Where are you going to go have a drink?”

“I’m taking her to this steak place,” my husband tells her, as I start walking toward the exit.

I feel her eyes follow me out, perhaps because it’s only noon.

(Written Oct 12, 2012)

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