General Fiction posted February 24, 2019

Not yet exceptional. When the exceptional rating is reached this is highlighted
It's that time of year again

Tax Turbulence

by beencounter

Mary pounded her hand on the desk, hearing a resonating thwack. For the past 3 hours she'd unsuccessfully gotten her tax software to work. She wasn't a "numbers person," since tax calculations aren't often required in the world of psychology. How would she figure out if she owed something or was getting a refund? "Waste of time," Mary mumbled under her breath. Her office chair creaked as she resettled into it. Piles of paper from her real work had been pushed to the side. This was a rotten way to spend a Saturday. Mary double-clicked on the software icon once more. The program came to life and then quickly vanished again. Sighing heavily, she finally admitted defeat and searched for the help desk phone number.

Mary's search turned out to be easier said than done. She selected the icon for last year's program and clicked on the "Get Help" button. A new screen appeared filled with questions and answers, none of which applied to just get the stinking program to work. Apparently, TaxFriend had changed from live, in-person conversation, much like the rest of society. She half expected them to "friend" her.

With sudden inspiration, Mary Googled the words, "TaxFriend help phone number." Clicking on the first result sent her back to TaxFriend questions and answers. She closed the screen. Back to the search results, this time she selected the second search result and hit internet gold. The elusive phone number appeared in tiny print. With new hope, Mary dialed the number and was promptly placed on hold. Elvis crooned in her ear, "You ain't nothin' but a hound dog...". Mary heard a click and then a voice came on the line. "TaxFriend help desk, Bruce speaking."

Elated, Mary began to explain what the tax software was doing, or rather, what it was not doing. Bruce asked, "Do you have a connection to the internet?"

Glancing down at the bottom of her computer, Mary saw the icon for internet connection was on. "Yes, my internet is on." She wanted to sound courteous, though in reality she was at frustration's limit. Maybe this wasn't worth the $119 she'd paid for the program.

"Did you try reinstalling the software?" Mary could hear Bruce typing on a keyboard. Was he just helping or was the guy multitasking?

"Yes, I tried both repairing and reinstalling TaxFriend," Mary replied.

"Did you try rebooting your computer?" Bruce could still be heard typing in the background.

"Yes, I uninstalled the software, rebooted and then reinstalled it," Bruce's questions were beginning to annoy her. Of course, she'd checked that. More time wasted with no results.

"OK, we're going to have to do a remote connect," Bruce explained. "You need to press the Control key plus the F3 key at the same time. As she did so, her computer screen remained unchanged. Mary relayed this result to Bruce.

"Are you sure your internet is connected?" Bruce asked again. It sounded like Bruce was snacking on chips now.

To be sure, Mary double-clicked on her computer's internet icon. A small screen appeared that said she was connected, secured. She closed the screen and replied, "Yes, my internet connection is up."

"Hmmm, "Mary heard Bruce swallow whatever he'd been eating. "Well, since I really can't help you without an internet connection, there isn't much that I can do", Bruce said.

"But I do have an internet connection!" Mary exclaimed into the receiver. She heard a bag rattle in the background and pictured Bruce fishing for some more chips.

"Press the Control button and the F3 key at the same time," Bruce repeated apparently from his script. She did so and Mary's computer screen remained unchanged, cursor blinking annoyingly.

"Nothing happened," she relayed to Bruce.

"I'm going to have to transfer you to our Technical Depart..." She didn't hear any more of what Bruce was saying. After a series of taps, Elvis warbled again in her ear this time singing, "Jailhouse Rock." Another tap and a new voice came on the line.

"This is Jane; how can I help you?" Jane spoke with an overly cheerful inflection in her voice. Get real, sister. Taxes are definitely not cheerful.

"I've been trying to get Taxfiend, I mean TaxFriend working so I can complete my tax return," Mary now decided she was definitely having a really bad day. "I've tried uninstalling and then reinstalling the software. I've tried uninstalling, rebooting my computer and then reinstalling the software. Whenever I click on the TaxFriend icon on my desktop, the program appears briefly and then closes itself down."

"I see," Jane replied. Mary heard again more clicking. Lovely internet age we have. Surely TaxFriend couldn't be terribly busy yet. It was only February 3 and taxes weren't due until April 15th. At long last, Jane came back on the line. "Have you tried rebooting your computer?"

Mary suppressed a large sigh, silently willing for patience. "Yes, I've rebooted my computer. "

"Would you consider using our free online version?" New hope! Mary suddenly felt elated.
"If that's what it takes to get these stupid taxes done, then yes. I would love to try your free online version. But how does the prior year's information get included?" The online version seemed to be too good to be true.

"Oh, I'll take care of that for you," Jane seemed to have a smile in her voice still. "And I'll refund your original purchase price."

After a few minutes, Mary's free online software edition was ready to go. She thanked Jane and clicked on the new icon. "Wow, it really does work," she said. After what she'd gone through today, something actually went right. Now to see if a refund was in her future...

The above is a true story. The names were changed to protect the not-so innocent.

Thank you, Anne, for the artwork.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by Anne at

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