In the U.S., April is usually thought of as ‘tax time’ since that’s when personal returns are due. But, for small businesses, January is tax time since we have to get a ton of filings done by the end of the month. Our own Federal returns aren’t due till March but all the paperwork we produce for others: the W2s for employees, the 1099s for contractors, and many other quarterly or annual reports are due by the end of this month.
I grew up in a family business and remember the bad old days of computing payroll taxes ‘by hand’, looking them up from the tax tables one employee at a time, late into the night, every two-week pay period. So for the most part, with QuickBooks to back us up, I consider most of our tax reports a little bit nervous-making (Do I have the right numbers? Am I getting the reporting quarter checked off correctly? Is that deadline date a post-marked date or a due-there date?) but laughingly easy to actually generate.
However, amazingly to me, there are still a few tax forms that can’t be just printed out on blank paper by QuickBooks. All of the 109x series (Miscellaneous Income, Interest Income, and the like) come in multi-part forms that have to be TYPED. So once a year, I drag out the old Smith-Corona Coronet Super 12 on which I typed my very first college paper (Europe in Medieval and Early Modern Times team taught then by Charles Wood and David Lagomarsino and, remarkably, still team taught by Lagomarsino and someone), plug it in, and hope that I still have at least enough ribbon to get through one more tax year.
I hate everything about getting out the old beast — it lives behind the foot-rest bar of my desk at home and is so heavy that I have to ask my husband to drag it out of its hidey-hole. When I hit the power button, though, and it roars to life, I find myself unaccountably fond of it. Everything about the Smith-Corona is loud — the idling of the motor, the strokes of the keys, and, especially, the zip-whack of the Power Return button as the carriage grinds back to line up to the starting margin and hits the stop. But sitting in front of it, going back to the high-stakes key strokes of my typing youth, just feels so . . . familiar. It’s a lot like driving an old, rutted road back to some place you loved as a kid; not pleasurable exactly but ‘right’ in a deep way.
My own true typewriter love will always be the IBM Selectric. I actually owned one once but left it behind at Tally Systems when we moved from Vermont to Wyoming. What was I thinking when I decided to drag along the S-C and leave behind the Selectric? Probably that, heavy as it is, the S-C was built to be a portable and the Selectric simply demands to live, in state, on a desk of its own. Even in 1999, I assumed my days of needing any typewriter at all were limited and I couldn’t imagine giving a suitable home to a Selectric. I’d find a place for it now, though, if I had the chance.