Adults You Can Trust
Irena had been there, knocking since early in the morning. After checking with the landlord and finding out that the family didn’t return the keys, she persistently knocked in polite fashion. The assistant who she called on was almost frustrated enough to go back. Regardless, Irena didn’t give up.
Worried, the landlord went to the house to see what was going on after hearing about what Irena was doing. The landlord with the keys gulped and proposed, “Ma’am, it sounds as though they have not paid their taxes in a while. Persistently knocking is not a solution. How about I help you open up?”
Irena shook her head: “I do not wish to make a big deal out of this. She is only a child. We need to be considerate of her feelings. You do not need to stay here. It is better for you to pretend you are unaware for her dignity’s sake.”
“Understood.” The landlord left.
Irena then resumed knocking. At long last, the young girl opened up, though she immediately erupted, “You done yet?! My mother is sick! Why must you still insist on tormenting her?! We don’t have anything, so leave us alone! Just confiscate our stuff! Stop annoying us!”
Catching the young girl trying to slam the door on her, Irena quickly stuck her feet in between the door and frame. The loud impact had everyone worried if Irena would lose her foot. The girl was so frightened that she rooted in place. Irena, however, ignored the pain to inform, “I did not come to collect your taxes this time but to calculate it. Our job is to ensure that we can collect your taxes without any obstacles. I came here to calculate what you actually need to pay. You should’ve came and asked an officer to calculate it when you couldn’t pay. Last night, I re-calculated it and found there to be a mistake. So, please let me in, and let’s figure this problem out.”
Since it wasn’t at the point at which Irena could confiscate their belongings, she couldn’t do anything even if she did enter – not that there was anything worth confiscating.
After the girl had a moment to think, she opened up. The house consisted of a single room, so she saw a bed as soon as she entered. An emaciated woman struggled to raise her head from the bed; even lifting the corners of her lips was a tough chore.
“S-sorry, T-tax Officer, my daughter has given you grief.”
“Not at all.” Irena cautiously positioned her legs in a horse-riding stance to avoid breaking the creaking chair she sat on. Then, she placed a book on the table as well as their tax returns. “As I said, you owe six hundred D in tax-“
“Yes… we will definitely… pay…” quavered the mother.
“I meant to say that there is an error with the six hundred D sum as that was the sum you owed while you were healthy. You did not report your unemployment and illness, so we did not know you were sick. As such, we asked that you pay taxes for the two quarters as per usual. You have been ill for the last two quarters, correct?”
“Yes, I still have my medical history here…”
“Great. According to our regulations, your household lost the ability to work two quarters ago. Therefore, you did not need to pay taxes for that period. In other words, you do not need to pay the six hundred D.”
“You mean to say… that we do not need to pay six-hundred D in taxes?! You mean to say… that it is completely waived?” inquired the young girl.
“Not only that, but you will have the two hundred D you paid refunded. I will write an official request for you clarifying your reasons. When you have time, go to the tax bureau, and they will refund you the two hundred D. In addition, you just need to take your mother’s medical history and medical invoices to the tribune to be reimbursed. There is no time limit for it. That also means that you can be reimbursed for the medical expenses for the last two quarters.
“You can request the lowest concessions, as well. What you will receive is the bare minimum to help cover your necessary living expenses. You are a student and not yet an adult. Accordingly, you can take legal action to have your father subsidise you with a certain amount on a monthly basis. Your school can also provide you with financial support to help you complete your studies. It just requires some leg work on your part.”
Irena picked up her pen and then added, “If you cannot remember everything, I can write it down for you. If you require legal help, you can always ask the tribune for assistance, and they will be sure to help you.”
“You… you… you…” The girl broke down in tears, expelling the tension that had overrun her body and finally found a release. “Thank you… Thank you…”
“There’s no need to thank me. I didn’t do anything. It was all in the law books. Whenever you run into problems in the future, don’t try and resolve them on your own. It is our duty to serve you. Whenever you face problems in the future, go and see the tribune. The nation will help you.”
Irena complete the application form then handed it to the girl. The girl tightly hugged it on her chest and wept. Irena stroked the girl’s head. “You’ve done very well. Nevertheless, let us adults help you with your problems. What would be our purpose, otherwise?”
“Thank you… Thank you… Thank you so much… Sorry… sorry… for not knowing better… Sorry…”
“It’s okay.” Smiling warmly, Irena assured, “It’s our duty to serve you. Remember to trust us adults from now.”
Ironically, Irena wasn’t that old.
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