Getting my first tax return today reminded me of a story from my childhood.
The year was 2001, I think. I was in 1st Grade and, for obvious reasons, obsessed with becoming The President of The United States of America. So to get in good with the guy who was already there, I sent a letter to the White House for George W. Bush. In no-nonsense terms I outlined the tactic for which America would conquer the Afghan terrorists:
What we really should do is throw big jars of poisonous snakes and spiders onto the planes and ships of the Afghanstanis. They will be so scared that they will drop there [sic] guns and surrender.
For added effect I included a graphic depiction of this plan of action. I put my letter in an envelope and sent it across the nation. And I waited. After about a year I had lost hope. Certainly I had forgotten a number in the address, or maybe they didn't mail envelopes written in crayon. Either way, America was hosed. The war raged on, and even I lost faith in my own proposed counter-terrorist plan.
Almost two years after I had mailed the letter, I received this in the mail:
Hmmm. I don't know what lesson I learned here, but it did change me. In any case, a $124 check means a lot more to me than a letter from some guy. Even if he is "George W. Bush".