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Tax season has hit with a vengance. In case I've not mentioned it yet, I've gone into partnership with the CPA for whom I've been doing per diem work for the last 5 years. Moved into new offices, got my name on the door, and everything. It's all well and good, and I'm looking forward to the expanded practice. But it has added a bit of stress to my life.

So how do I find a way to muck things up quickly? With my usual pre-scheduled appointments, that's how. For several years now, I've given my clients an appointment rather than waiting for them to call and ask for one. There's always a bit of rescheduling, but it's far fewer phone calls than having EVERYONE call and set an appointment. Plus, I schedule lots of people early in tax season to get them in and done. It helps even out the work load - keeping April from being even worse than it usually is.

Anyone who has paid attention to a calendar will know that, except for leap years, February and March look identical. So if you write Tuesday, February 8 on an appointment notice, no one will question if you really meant Tuesday, MARCH 8. Until two people show up at the same time.

I've had a bit of confusion before. But usually people pull out their appointment card, take a look at it, and start apoligizing when they realize that they mis-read the card. But not today. Two appointment cards. Same day and time on each.

And how many times has Peter done this? Technically, we really don't know, as this is only the second week of serious appointments. But I am aware of at least two so far.

I dodged a bullet Saturday, when I had a last-minute cancellation. Expecting an hour's break, I was quite surprised when a client showed up. And not the client that just cancelled. He dutifully pulled out his organizer and the appointment card was on top. I casually looked at it and noticed that he arrived exactly when I told him to. I never mentioned it to him - we just sat down and got to work. Gotta keep up professional appearances and all, you know.

Scheduling error number 1 turned out lucky for me. Down time turned productive and I have a month to fill the newest vacancy in my schedule. Number 2 wasn't to be quite as lucky.

I had very full schedule today. Late afternoon rolls around and I've finished my 4:00 appointment about 15 minutes early. I'm surprised when someone walks just after those folks leave. I know my 5:00 appointment. He will be 10 minutes late for his funeral. 15 minutes early is just not like him. And neither are the people I see walking in the door.

Fortunately, they are one of the simpler returns I have. I explain that I made a mistake and wrote the wrong time on their appointment card. We sit down and quickly get to work anyway. Mr. "late for everything" is a little early for him and shows up only 5 minutes late. I explain the double booking to him and have him wait. Get the "wrong" appointment finished up in record time and move on. Mr. "late" has no problem waiting a bit, and with the adrenaline rush still going strong, we get his return knocked out in record time as well.

Or almost done. As he's packing his records up, he casually asks about worthless stocks. It seems that back in the days BC (before children, which for him is about 15 years), his wife worked for MCI. And they had a stock purchase plan. And she bought. And bought. And bought. He's not sure how much stock they have. He's going to check the safe deposit box and see what the certificates add up to. [BTW - anyone know if WCOM is worthless this year or are they still trading?] So much for a quick and simple return. At least the surprise will reduce his taxes.

I'm now wondering how many more times this is going to happen before February is over.

--Peter <== will publish additional volumes as needed between now and 4/15/05
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