I had to go to the DC city government office for a variety of errands today. An interesting place. And surprisingly musical.
The guards who wanded me down on the way in were singing some R&B song together, almost completely disconnected from the process of checking me for weapons. The janitor was mopping the floors with headphones on and rapped loudly to the tinny beats coming from the machine. When I went to the cashier to pay for something there were two women behind the wall of glass. In the background a radio blared gospel music. The two women both danced and sang loudly along with the music, praising Jesus while they made change.
I went to the tax office and got a number from a cheery, but kind of blank-faced, woman. I sat down and waited for my number to come up. A few minutes later a diminutive, elderly Cuban woman sat down in front of me. She was agitated and she wanted to talk. Thankfully, (at least for me) she choice the middle-aged African-American woman sitting to my right as the target of her laments. "I ha beeen here for feefty years. I ha always pay my taxes. But I ha seventy years old now, and now I get a letter from here saying that now I got to pay them taxes? I ha seventy years old! I no ha pay taxes now I ha seventy years old! I working now, I cleeening, I cleeening now fi years. But I ha seventy years old!" She repeated and elaborated on this theme, and what I got out of it was that she somehow seemed to think that once you passed retirement age, you no longer paid taxes. Regardless of whether or not you were working. The woman towards whom she directed this tirade kept saying, "Now that don't make no sense." But I couldn't decide if what didn't make sense was that the woman had to pay taxes on her post-65 pay, or that what the woman was saying didn't make sense. I voted for the latter. I also lean towards the sensible woman sitting next to me agreeing with me that the woman was making no sense, while trying to remain neutral enough (while truthful) to not rile her up anymore than she already was. I felt bad for the woman who was being yelled at (while being glad it wasn't me), as being roped into conversations with crazy people is never fun. I felt bad for the crazy no-tax woman who, at seventy, was cleaning something (motels? houses? not clear). And then, when my number came up and I went to the window only to discover that the blank-faced woman had failed to mention that I needed to get a form from the form office around the corner and fill it out before my number was called, and so now had to get a new number and wait all over again while the crazy woman ranted about having to pay taxes... well, then I felt bad for myself.
But not as bad as I felt for the woman who got the crazy lady when crazy lady's number came up.