The man looking up my files was in his mid fifties, with a well groomed beard, sensible dark brown jumper (how can a jumper be insensible anyway?) and small, round glasses. He looked competent, as an accountant should. He couldn’t find my record, even though it was in front of him, but he seemed more confused by the layout of the front desk, rather than scatter brained.
He’d just picked up my files when a woman came out of the depths of the offices. In her seventies, still wearing a warm coat and scarf, she was heading towards the front door purposefully. I thought she was a client, but the man held out my record and said “Joan, your appointment is here…”
She kept walking, her gaze distant, fixed on the street outside, the look of a person who’s mind was gone, perhaps at home or in the street she was purposefully heading towards, the door so close, her freedom so close.
The man and I stared at her uncertainly, my file limp in his hand.
Joan was escaping, oblivious to our presence, while the man and I watched on, concerned.
Then Joan glanced at me briefly, her eyes darting back to the street just as quickly. “Come in,” she said, finally acknowledging me. Something came back in her eyes, as though she’d just returned from wherever she’d been, although her body was still heading towards the front door.
I wasn’t sure what I should do. Should I follow her outside to do my tax return on the street? I wasn’t entirely certain she would stop when outside. Should I hold the door open for her and let her escape?
Luckily Joan swivelled at the last moment, taking my file from the mans hand and headed to the first cubicle. I followed.
“I thought you were trying to escape,” I said and behind me I heard the man laugh with relief. He had too.
“I was trying to,” she said and I wasn’t sure if she was joking or not.
So now my tax is done for another year, and this year I make the same promise that I won’t forget the next year what I spent my return on, because forgetting means that I spent it on something unimportant.
I’m also hoping that the tax police won’t dramatically burst into my house at midnight and arrest me, scandalising the neighbourhood because I’m not entirely certain that Joan was completely… There… while doing my tax.
On a plus side, I saw a car with the number plate AW GY, so my day is now complete.