Taxes and togetherness

I am a procrastinator. You might guess this means I was up last night doing my taxes. I was. I don’t mind admitting it, because mostly I have come to terms with my eleventh-hour tendencies. And anyway, coming clean about it is a win-win situation. Suppose you finished your taxes weeks ago: I’ve just given you the chance to do some self-congratulatory tut tutting. If instead you, like me, were toiling away late last night, then we can share the warm camaraderie of sinners. Like huddling outdoor smokers, we can savor the fraternal bond of our dangerous habit.

There’s something to this togetherness business.

I was once interviewed while waiting in line to hand over my tax return just before midnight on April 15th. How, the newspaper man wanted to know, did it make me feel? Stupid? Disorganized? No, I said, surveying the mass of humanity around me, all of us bent on the same object. I found it exhilarating. Look at all of us, all here doing exactly the same thing. Doing something important together. I remembered feeling the same way the first time I went grocery shopping for a Thanksgiving dinner that I had to prepare. Sure, Safeway was crowded, but here we all are, doing the Thanksgiving dance.

I don’t enjoy paying taxes, but it’s fun to watch how everyone responds differently to the same call, myself included. Paying taxes online takes the crowd away from us, but Twitter can give it back. Here’s a snapshot of Tweetscan last night. I was looking for anyone who mentioned taxes on Twitter at midnight on April 14th.

We have few enough shared rituals anymore. But after all, deep down we’re still grunion that merge in the surf at the bidding of the moon.