Every adventure needs to budget for “The Idiot Tax™”. The Idiot Tax™ is incurred through ignorance and/or inattention to detail, and it is the cost of Wisdom™. Forms of payment accepted by The Idiot Tax™ are time, money, embarrassment, and nearly always anxiety and frustration.
Four days into this trip, and The Idiot Tax™ has already been paid several times:
The Idiot Tax™ is most likely to be compounded towards the end of the day, but the seeds are sown much earlier.
The Idiot Tax™ is different from dumbassery and instant karma because those are a result of doing something stupid when you know better. Speeding tickets are included in this category. So are bug bites when you know the midges come out at sunset and don’t bother to put on bug spray. The Idiot Tax™, however, cannot be avoided. Because of this, I have learned that the imposition of The Idiot Tax™ must not be allowed to spoil the entire experience. It is better to pay the price to learn the lesson and focus on what was good about the day.
Fifteen years ago, I was in Czechia with my sister. We took the train from Prague to Kutna Hora to see the Bone Church, a chapel that was completely decorated by a blind monk using the bones of plague victims. It was the first time we left the major cities, and also pre-smart phones, so when we lost our return train ticket, and got dumped on by a surprise rain storm, Emma lost her mind. That day, the price of The Idiot Tax™ was damp clothes, my sister’s rage (eventually mitigated by a sandwich), and a bus ticket back to Prague. While we waited for the bus by a grocery store at the edge of town, my sister stood at the opposite side of the stop and fumed, I stood shivering in the rain and marveled at seeing her throw a tantrum for the first time in 20 years. A Czech woman came to stand next to me and she quietly held her umbrella over me while we watched Emma eventually calm down. The bus ride took an extra two hours but showed us more of the countryside as the sun broke through the clouds and illuminated the lush green fields.
If you are lucky, The Idiot Tax™ gives you a great story to tell, but usually it is so mundane that no one really cares to hear about it except for the ones who love you most and who listen to your woes with half an ear when you call home. One can hope to pass on the wisdom gained through paying The Idiot Tax™, but most people need to pay their own Idiot Tax in order to get the full benefits. In my #WanderingAddison spreadsheet of income, expenses, and day-to-day logistics, I have a line item for The Idiot Tax™. As of this post, it’s up to $28. Seeing it makes me chuckle through the tears.