Party with your Tax Dollars

Today was a double whammy.  I slid off my post-Easter high thanks to spending two days working on my taxes while listening in the background to the endless coverage of our Presidential Election.  I am not sure which was the more depressing.
It takes me back to the first year after Mary Lou and I were married.  I came home to tell my bride that we were going to have to pay additional money on our first joint return.  To make matters worse, we didn’t have the money to pay Uncle Sam and I was going to have to borrow the money from the bank.
My wife immediately went into survival mode, thinking of every way possible to save money. Unfortunately, we had planned to attend my sister’s sorority formal in Atlanta the very next weekend.  ML insisted we cancel the trip.  I stubbornly refused, telling her she could stay home if she wanted, but I was going to Atlanta.
We spent all week surrounded by the new tension generated by money issues.  I am sure we were dining on more than bread and water, but I definitely recall an immediate reduction in the quality of our meals.  We argued every day about whether to go to Atlanta or not.   
Finally realizing how obstinate her new husband could be, my wife decided to go Atlanta with me.  Rather than let me leave town and have fun without her, she would go and make sure I was miserable.
We arrived in Atlanta and she suggested I park the car in a lot across the street from our hotel, the Peachtree Plaza.  I insisted that we use valet parking.  She insisted on taking her own bags up to the room, while I paid to have the bellman take my bags up.  Arguing over every dollar, I could tell this was really going to be a fun weekend!
I stepped into the restroom when we arrived in our room.  I heard the phone ring and when I came out, Mary Lou told me the hotel had wrecked her car.  It seems the kid parking the car was practicing to be a NASCAR driver. He repeatedly bounced the passenger side of the car off the walls of the ramp going into the underground.  The resulting damage was severe enough the door could not even be opened.
This was obviously not the first time the hotel had an incident like this to occur, because by the time we looked at the car and met with the manager, they already had three estimates for the repair.  He showed me the three estimates and told me I could pick any of them.  I quickly accepted the highest offer, but told him that I would prefer to have him write the check and I would take care of the repairs myself.  He agreed and I had the check in hand before we went back to the room.
My wife wanted to know why I didn’t let the hotel have the repairs done.  I told her that they were using Atlanta rates and that I could have the work done much, much cheaper back home.   
We had a great time celebrating with my sister that night, not to mention the relief from the pressure filled week.  The check paid for the repairs on ML’s car.  There was more than enough left over to pay our taxes.
Many times in my life, I have felt like other people were partying on my tax dollars.  Today’s election process seems to indicate that much of the country feels the same way.  However, for one glorious weekend we celebrated on someone else’s nickel, paying for our repairs, party and taxes all at the same time.  
I still live with the lessons I learned that weekend.   Don’t ever skip a good party, don’t worry too much about money and remember that things will always work out in the end.
o0o
Dan Ponder can be reached at [email protected]

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