Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

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Speaking Freely

I shouldn't confess this, because many of my acquaintances are the sort of people who finish their taxes by Groundhog Day, but I invariably find myself making the long trek down to the main post office on Tax Day to drop our return or, in this case, extension off after all the other post offices are closed. Maybe if we ever had the prospect of a meaningful refund I would send it off sooner. But since we usually owe a little, there's not much incentive to rush. Besides, there's something moving about the experience of queuing up with all those other Americans who don't have the income or inclination to have a professional do their taxes for them. As zokah wrote yesterday, in the entry with her amazing photo showing a worm's-eye view of a BART platform, "There were postal employees waiting in front waving people over to the curb and collecting tax envelopes from rolled down car windows. Scenes like at the post office (poll stations on election evenings also) make me feel all community-like."

I feel that sense of community when I go pay the water bill in person, but it's especially pronounced on Tax Day. To be honest, seeing that long line of taillights from the Kino Parkway overpass warms my heart. The postal employees are always extremely friendly. And even the police presence -- guarding the returns, I imagine -- is tolerable. Last night was particularly interesting. As I was rolling towards the drop-off point, listening to Kraftwerk's "The Model," I saw one of those temporary caution signs in the center lane, pinned down with a few sandbags. From a distance, it seemed to be an example of Situationist détournement, but I figured my eyes were deceiving me. "Maybe I really do need glasses finally," I thought. But as I came closer to the sign, I realized that the détournement was real. The orange sign with black lettering that usually warns of construction hazards instead sported the words, "Free Speech." I'm not sure what the person who put it there meant for the sign to say, but whatever her or his intentions, it resonated far beyond them. I spent a long time thinking about what it could mean. And that's why I was doubly happy to be mailing off my taxes at 11:00pm last night.
Tags: autobiography, everyday, tucson

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