It was the mid 1980s and my stepdad, “Papi”, would spend hours in the house office on taxes. I didn’t get it.
I was off to California to become the next Jane Goodall ( these are dreams of an 18 year old). I started as a veterinarian assistant and at that time thought $6.50 an hour was a lot if money and graveyard shift was not so bad. I mopped floors at 3 am while a parrot named Julio would sit on my shoulder and screech “hola! Brrrring!” And poo on my hoodie. Where was National Geographic? The interesting chimpanzees? We did get a python with a cold once and a crazy breeder who wanted all her poodles dyed mauve to match the carpet. And her hair.
After my first year, I got my W2 that could have been written in Chinese for all I knew. I did the paper 1040EZ form and OWED $500.
$500. Where was I going to get that kind of money?
I needed help. Papi was great with money and I was terrified and ashamed to ask. But I did. And he was kind. And used it as a teaching moment instead of a lecture.
Each tax season that rolls around, I remember this kind gesture. And today I think about taxes daily. How can I minimize while being a responsible citizen? Is our government using the tax money wisely? Etc.
My Papi taught me how to plan and start to think about money.
And for that I am truly grateful.
Love you, Papi.