On my 32nd birthday, I was a pallbearer at my grandfather’s funeral. He was buried with full military honors at Quantico National Cemetery in a very quiet ceremony. It was a perfect complement to his very humble nature.
Prior to that day, I had a perfect no-cry record at funerals. My streak stayed intact until one minute before we all went our separate ways that warm September day.
The three military officers that presided over the service folded his burial flag and presented it to our family. As they handed it over, they expressed their gratitude for my grandfather’s service to the United States of America.
(Cue the lip quiver.)
These three soldiers never met my grandfather, yet their gratitude was very genuine and heartfelt.
That was the very moment that I realized how I failed to express my gratitude to him. He did a bunch of the typical grandfather type things with me, but there was one inadvertent lesson he taught me that stuck with me (pun intended….you’ll see) and I never got to thank him for it.
When I was about 5 years old, my grandfather took me to the shopping mall near my house. I remember getting on an escalator that ascended upward toward the second level of the mall.
Within seconds, things got out of hand.
The boy in front of us (who was about my age) started to frantically scream at his mother. “I’m stuck!”
The boy’s shoelace had come undone and became lodged in the escalator stairs. His mom panicked and started to pull on the lace. “It won’t come out!”
By that time, we were coming near the top of the escalator at the second floor. I started to panic too! I thought for sure that the boy was going to be sucked into the belly of the escalator.
That was when my grandfather reached up to the boy, grabbed his ankle and pulled his foot out of the shoe that was stuck.
The mother and boy reached the top of the escalator and hurried off. I wasn’t even involved, but as I got to the crest and walked off, I think my eyes were as big as theirs and my heart was pounding!
I don’t recall what they said to my grandfather, nor do I recall how they got the shoe out of the escalator. What I do recall was the feeling I got from seeing my grandfather as being cool, calm, and collected throughout the whole ordeal while everyone else was freaking out. It was poetic!
In business, we all face emergency situations on a regular basis. In fact, you may have had your fair share of sales tax related emergencies throughout your travels.
I’ve got good news for you! If you have the right playbook (or the phone number of a sales tax consultant that has the right playbook…Cough Cough!), dealing with sales tax emergencies can be similar to dealing with a shoelace caught in an escalator. With a level head and a calm demeanor, you can easily yank your foot out of the shoe and glide safely to your destination.
Whether it’s audits, monthly compliance cycles, overpayments, underpayments or any other sales tax “emergency,” we all can take a page from my grandfather’s playbook by staying cool, calm, and collected.
(P.S. – If you’ve committed fraudulent activities with respect to your sales tax compliance responsibilities, you better brace for getting sucked into the belly of the escalator!)