Buried in Paper

Magdalena at the Altar

I don’t mean that literally. I’m not a paper hoarder. I throw it out as soon as I can. I am buried in government forms! I seem to get something new every week to complete, sign and return. Then I think I’m done, but something got lost somewhere, I need to get a new copy signed, and oh, yes, we need this one, too…

I used to fill out government forms for a living, and mortgage forms, and tax forms – I was good at it. I could whip through a complete filing in about twenty minutes, fifteen forms and a cover letter. Those of you too young to remember the old IRS filings have no idea what it could be like – trying to figure out what forms the client required, what numbers went where, and then 10-keying everything three times to get it right. I made it through to on-line filing via dial-up, available only to accountants who subscribed. Then the forms would be couriered back to us! Twenty-five years ago, and it sounds like ancient history. This year, I sat down at the computer, keyed in a few numbers and filed electronically.

But tax forms are the only ones, it seems, you can handle that way. Everything else is paperfiling. I am so confused by some of this I have to squint at the form numbers at the bottom to figure out which government office gets what. Heaven help you if you send something to the wrong office, because they can’t share the information around!

I am praying that by Friday I will have the latest set of papers filled out and ready to go.

One of the best things about working for the Anglican church was a blessed shortage of forms to to file. We had one major summary to file with the bishop’s office once a year. The treasurer took care of the tax stuff. All I had to do was legibly fill in the vestry books after each service, an archaic task that evoked the early C of E, with the parish priest serving as the monarch’s clerk recording births, deaths, marriages and the cycle of the year.

If I can get employed by the church again soon, a lot of this government paperwork will disappear, and I can go back to being anonymous and relatively paperwork free.


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