PART 1 - GERMANY
Knock, knock, knock! The tax collector was probably here to collect those darn taxes again. He came by almost every month with what we needed to pay and what our debts were.
“ Honey!” I yelled across the room.
“ Yah I got the door. See what he wants.” My husband, Günter, muttered that last part under his breath.
I was thinking about living in a place where we were charged fairly and where we could make a living. We very rarely had enough money, after taxes, for our essentials: food, water, and our house maintenance. Our cloths were often filthy and ragged. I wore a torn skirt that was patched up many times over and mismatched everywhere. My top was of the most sheen and un warm material, scratchy cotton inlayed the inside. My husbands clothes were more mended than ever and were so run down they were practically ripping at the seams. Günter was in desperate need of new cloths. I snapped out of that thought just as quickly as it came. At least we have a home and we have somethings to live on. Many people in Germany lived on the streets and work was scarce these days. How I wish that I had enough money to help those poor people out. There I went again going on like I had no place to stay or sleep. My momma always said “Be thankful for what you have, Hannelore, for you may wake up in the morn and have it all taken away.” I had taken that saying pretty seriously after I moved out to live with the great love of my life.
“If you don’t have enough money than what you have to pay then you shouldn’t be here in this house!” That rough raspy voice told me three things: One, the tax collector was definitely here. Two, we may not have enough money to pay the taxes. Three, if the tax collector kept pushing it, I may have to intervene before it got to a fight.
“ I told you that was what the tax rate was the last time I checked!” Günter sounded downright angry. I could hear the rage in his voice and walked a little faster so that I could get there in time to save a fight with our landlord.
“ Is everything alright dear?” I asked so smoothly I didn’t think that he knew that I had been listening in on the conversation.
“ Yes dear everything is fine. Our taxes are just a bit more than we bargained for.”
“ Oh and by how much may I ask?”
“ 15 euros!” He was trying to keep it together I could tell by the way his veins popped out and the sweat that kept popping off his eyebrow. I saw his jaw move back and forth. My husband gritting his teeth was not a good sign at all.
“ Ah.” I said as I handed the regular amount of tax to the collector.
“ I’ll get the 15 extra euros that we owe.” I made sure to draw out the word extra. As I walked back I to the dresser where we kept all the money I saw Günter’s flaming outraged eyes as I took the money out and counted the bills and the change into the waiting mans hand. His hand closed around the money, and he stalked away leaving a horrible feeling in the air. I closed the door and waited to hear my husband yell and have my head for what I just did and just as I thought...
“ WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT!?” The rage on his face was mixed with pain and betrayal. I could see a flash of hurt too. I felt guilty about the way I had acted and I also knew why this was so important to him. Every penny we earned, couldn’t afford to be wasted.
“ Honey, we can’t afford to be on bad side with our landlord. You know that. If we can’t pay those taxes we will have nowhere to sleep and nothing to eat. I am going to see if I can get a job maybe to mend clothes or at a cotton facility. I will also ask some of our friends if their taxes have been raised as well.” I say his gaze soften as I mentioned working.
“ Do you have to work Hon? I can ask my boss if there is anything I can do to maybe get some more money or a raise.” He took my hands in his hands and looked right in my eyes. Understanding washed over me as I looked in his eyes. He didn’t want me to have to work. He wanted me to stay at home and not have to worry about a thing.
“ We need the money. I’ll get something close to home. I will make sure that we get a good salary to help pay those debts and the taxes. I know that it will be hard on both of us with the change but we have to work together to accomplish the goal of us having a better life.” I whispered this in his ear as he leaned forward. I heard him sigh and I knew that I had convinced him that my idea was the best option for us. Without further comment he swept me in his arms and carried me off to bed.