Wearing the scarlet 'P' for procrastinator - Aisha I. Jefferson

Who are the people who wait until the last minute to complete their taxes for the extension they filed for months earlier?

And why did I recently find myself among this crowd?

This is what I asked myself as I waited in line with what appeared to be dozens, upon dozens of other metro Atlantans at city's main post office.

But before you pass judgment, let me state for the record that waiting until the last minute to file my taxes is not a habit of mine. Actually, I like to get them filed as soon as I can, so that I can reap the benefits like millions of other Americans.

But this year was different. And although I am sure I provided myself with several excuses for why I had to file an extension none of them really made any sense.

No one I knew was out here, rushing to the post office before midnight.

Although I am not a millionaire, I did find doing my taxes -dare I say it - a little taxing. For starters, I didn't have an instruction booklet. All of those disappeared before the April 15 deadline.

I guess I had a lesson to learn that night because I stressed myself out trying to make sure I did everything correctly.

The accountant my mother recommended apparently was living up on some beach in the Caribbean, otherwise, why hadn't she returned my calls days earlier? I kept assuring myself that she would return my call and whip out my taxes in minutes. But I am still waiting for her to return my call.

My sister, who seems to get a kick out of doing taxes for others, was no where to be found.

My parents were ignoring my phone calls. (I could sense the disappointment in my mom's voice when I asked her for the accountant's number the previous week.)

And my friend who works for the IRS refused to help me because I had, yes, put if off until the last minute. And while I managed to get some information out of her, she hung up in my face because she was house hunting and said I was hogging her time with something that could've been handled way in advance.

I couldn't argue with her, although I really didn't want to hear what she said.

Believe it or not, being shunned by my family and friends didn't compare with what was to come.

After completing my taxes, and with about 45 minutes until the deadline, I headed to the post office. And that's when the humiliation that my friend had pre-warned me about had began to fester.

I was the only person that I knew who was out here like this.

I was embarrassed and felt irresponsible because here I was in the middle of the night trying to get my taxes off on time with other procrastinators. I felt like I had a scarlet "P" for procrastinator on my chest. And everyone saw it.

But I don't think it was a matter of being caught up in other people's opinions of me, as it was being aware of the reality I had created for myself at the moment. And it is not an experience I want to play out again. Therefore, my advice to myself, and others who may have waited until the last minute to file their taxes is to get them done as you as you can.

Aisha I. Jefferson covers police and courts for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at ajefferson@henryherald.com .