I feel terrible.

Mr. Rilch and I filed our taxes very close to the deadline. Time was running out even when we got started, but then we were held up by an unforeseen circumstance: Mr. Rilch couldn’t find his W-2s. Fortunately, we both save each and every pay stub we get, in anticipation of such emergencies. H&R Block was able to assist us, so we can now enjoy Monday.

I swear, he and I both looked “everywhere”, or thought we did. “Everywhere” meaning all his folders, all my folders, his inbox, my inbox, the random papers I put on my bookshelf, his briefcase, everything on the desk, on top of the storage boxes, between the storage boxes, spaces between furniture…The W-2s were in none of those places.

Picture this office. I’m at the computer. Behind me is a “monkey rack”; an industrial shelf where we keep the storage boxes. Behind me and to the left is the shelf where I keep my cartoon books and computer manuals. About ten minutes ago, I noticed a clump of stuff on the floor in front of that shelf. “Mr. Rilch must have moved that when he was looking in and around the storage boxes,” I thought. “I’ll sort through it and put it back.”

A script from a show Mr. Rilch worked on two months ago. A flier for the LA Festival of Books. Details magazine. Notices from the gas company, LADPW, and the cable company. And lookie here…Mr. Rilch’s W-2s.

I feel terrible. Is it possible that I put them there without realizing what they were? It was mostly my stuff, and I have more or less claimed the tops of the storage boxes as my repository. But Mr. Rilch was the one who moved these papers during his search. He could have looked through them…Yes, but so could I have done. But I had such faith that he couldn’t lose lose anything…Is this my fault?

I don’t see the problem.

Neither of you did anything intentionally, so quit fretting.

My recommendation: Show Mr. Rilch the rediscovered W-2, stick a symbolic voodoo pin through its heart, share a bottle of wine, and laugh about it.

I don’t think you should be taking blame, or blaming him either.

It happened, it’s done, you will never know who exactly did it and there’s nothing you can do about it except to learn from it.

If you spend your time beating yourself over the head, nothing will change.

But if you consider ways you can prevent this from happening in the future instead, then something good can come from it.

Actually, I already showed them to him. He took it stoically. He did ask where I found them, and when I answered truthfully, he did not speak of blame.

At the time they disappeared, he was looking for a business envelope to put them in. That’s still a good idea; now it’s just a matter of making sure they do get into an envelope, and then keeping track of the envelope.

It is in the very nature of papers to migrate when unobserved. It’s like socks, only more widespread. If W-2’s were printed on socks, they’d only disappear when in the wash.

I’d attach them to last year’s tax returns (given that they match the figures you submitted, of course). :slight_smile: