The tax official: Birgit Winterscheidt from Muehlheim | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 16.06.2010
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The tax official: Birgit Winterscheidt from Muehlheim

Birgit Winterscheidt has been a tax official for thirty years. The tax office might not seem like an obvious place to find true, but it’s where she met the man of her dreams.

Birgit Winterscheidt

Birgit has spent her entire working life in the tax office

It's a mild November day, and Birgit Winterscheidt is enjoying the unexpected sun in her garden. Next to her is her partner of two years, Walter Pusch. Birgit is 51, Walter 58. They knew each other for 32 years before they became a couple – so why did it take them so long to get together?

"We were friends for a long time," explains Birgit Winterscheidt. "But we were both married. My husband and I separated a long time ago, and then Walter's wife died two years ago."

Birgit and Walter smiling at each other

Birgit and Walter have known each other for thirty years

Birgit and Walter met at work. For the last thirty years, they've both worked for the tax office in Muelheim on the River Ruhr, a town with 160,000 residents.

They have almost adjacent offices, and the couple does everything together. In the morning they like to have breakfast in the office canteen, and in the course of the morning they meet up three or four times outside for a quick cigarette. In their lunch break they take a walk along the river, which runs run by their office.

"We love going on bike rides and hikes together," smiles Birgit Winterscheidt.

A life in the tax office

As an experienced tax official, she assesses the tax statements of high-earners. She's also in charge of bankruptcy cases. "What that means is that I only deal with files," she says. "I don't talk directly to the public anymore."

Birgit Winterscheidt has spent her entire working life in the tax office. She started out as an intern at the age of fifteen, working her way up first to the middle grade of the civil service and then to the upper grade. She's content with her lot, even though she admits that tax official was never her dream job.

birgit in front of shelves of files

Birgit has dealt with thousands of tax files

But she gets to vent her creative side away from the office. She loves painting and experimenting with arts and crafts, and she's a keen interior designer. She's turned her home in Oberhausen in to her castle.

Her strong sense of aesthetics even extends to her car. "I don't know anything about mechanics," she says. "So the only criterion I apply when choosing a car is its appearance."

Late rewards

Life hasn't always been easy for Birgit. Sixteen years ago, her life was turned upside down when her husband left her to bring up their three and five-year-old sons by herself. She began working part-time and sent the children to kindergarten – she couldn't bear the thought of giving up her job and claiming welfare, however daunted she was by the prospect of combining work and family.

Birgit and her two sons and partner sitting on the terrace

Birgit's sons are already grown up - and sometimes visit for a Sunday coffee

Her sons are now grown-up: 21-year-old Nicholas studies business, and 19-year-old Christoph is a big Formula One fan, who still doesn't know exactly what he wants to do with his life. Birgit hopes they both find good jobs.

She herself has never been happier. "He spoils me and we never argue," she says of her partner. Birgit Winterscheid has noticed that relationships are different when one's older – she admits she's gained a lot of weight since settling down with Walter. But it's a small price to pay for true love.

Author: Tian Miao (jp)
Editor: Rina Goldenberg

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