Thursday morning I jumped out early and Saori was quick to follow me as we went to the Burger Buro. Burger Buros, sadly, are not restaurants, but handle official services like parking permits, various registrations, etc. It's a bit like going to the DMV but a DMV which handles all kinds of public services offered by the government. You take a number and a seat. At least the people at the Burger Buro are nicer. And they actually get whatever it is done quickly, and correctly. Anyway the office opened at 8:30 so we were there at 8:00 to beat some of the crowd. Even then we were still #21, and ended up waiting about an hour in total. Once we were at the counter, it was all of five minutes before we were on our way again. This time to the tax office.
It's astounding, when I compare even to bureaucracy-loving countries, how god-awful the tax system is in the US. For a brief comparison:
US- Filing taxes annually is compulsory, with jail time and other penalties for people who don't fileGermany- Filing taxes is voluntary, with the idea that you file to get money back. You can file up to three and a half years late.
US- So god-awful, unclear, and complicated that even native speakers have to go to their local tax help professional advisers to file
Germany- The paperwork for three years of taxes, in German, took me about two hours.
US- you pay professionals employed by companies whose lobbyists push congress to make taxes more complicated, or at least keep them as complicated as they are.
Germany- you can take your partially filled out taxes directly to a member of the government at the financial office of the city and they will answer your questions and help you fill them out. For free (or paid for with taxes).
After tax filing, we went back home and rested and packed a bit before heading out east to the countryside. One last dinner with my coworkers at the Ochsen restaurant for which I did all of the drawings. Rafa's girlfriend Wiebke picked us up in Bad Canstatt and we drove together to the village where I worked for the past nearly two years.
There, we joined Rafa, and Magda and her family, for one last dinner together at zum Ochsen. This was the old guesthouse/restaurant bought by my former boss, and renovated according to his designs and my drawings. I probably should have proposed someplace less expensive to eat, but the food was good, and I'm a bit of a romantic when it comes to this sort of thing. A last Schwabsich dinner in Germany, in the very building I drew and renovated. I ate spatzle and roast beef with mushrooms and gooseberries, and it was all very good. We brought small gifts for everyone and we got some sweet gifts in return. Magda's daughter is very bright and she especially enjoyed playing with me between plates of food. It was sad to leave them in the end, especially knowing that little S didn't really understand we were leaving. We gave everyone two rounds of hugs on a cold summer night, and Rafa and Wiebke drove us back home in Stuttgart.