The Tax Lady Winneth
You know how people like to whine about their misfortunes? I'm one of them. (A whiner, not a misfortune.)
Missing from Yesterday's Airlines Comments
One of the best kind of misfortunes is somebody else's. In this case it belongs to United Airlines, the operator of the aircraft that took me from EWR to DEN, without incident or hassle beyond the usual airline nonsense. So far so good. As we were getting off the aircraft, "deplane-ing" in the jargon, the flight attendant (stewardess in the ex-jargon) was standing near the exit, observing her charges as they filed past. On every flight I've ever taken, this slow but predictable ritual has been accompanied by an airline employee — pilot, stewardess, purser, whatever — ushering the passenger out with a smile, a "thank you," a nod, or other trivial acknowledgement that the passenger exists. Almost as if, in the back of their minds, they realize that those cranky and cantankerous humans are in some way responsible for their employment and the very existence of their company.
Not this time. The flight attendant carefully studied the seat in front of her. Unmoving eyes, neutral facial position. Somehow I was able to cope with this. Cogito ergo sum and all that — I don't need my existence validated by an airline employee. But about 200 people, myself included, formed a slightly more negative opinion of United Airlines (and flying in general) as a result of that gratuitous lack of acknowledgement.
My Own Misfortunes
Here in New Jersey we pay our property taxes quarterly, on the 1st of August, November, February, and May. The tax year begins in August, with the pre-arrival of the bill and payment coupons. Except "pre-arrival" is really post-arrival most years, since New Jersey, with some of the highest property taxes in the nation, can't quite figure them out in time to send the bills out before they're due. 2010 was no exception, with the tax bills arriving a week or so late. Printed on the bill was a notice "grace period extended to August 30." I dutifully posted my taxes on 30 August and forgot about it.
When I received a cryptic correspondence from the town a few days later, I queried it, with the resulting reply:
The item you received in the mail was a receipt of the taxes paid on your property. Your check was received on Tuesday, August 31st and taxes were due by the 30th of August. So the receipt reflects the interest due on the account.
Interest? The taxes were due on the 30th and I posted them on the 30th. That's the federal rule and the state rule. Do we have extraterritoriality or something here in the 'burbs? And: Interest on one day's lateness of one quarter's taxes? Who cares? It's not even worth the postage.
Not exactly. Apparently we do have extraterritoriality (or something) here in the 'burbs, and the interest charge wasn't for a day but rather a whole month. Of course this is a total injustice, but a still small amount of money, and I'm not disposed to litigate it up to the Supreme Court, even though I'd probably lose if they took the case, which they wouldn't. Apparently the rules are the rules, no matter how foolish or inflexible they may be, and, as with the case of United Airlines above, they suffice to create a slightly more negative (or, in the case of my local government, less positive) overall view. I sent in my check after a discussion with the Tax Lady (who claimed to be concerned about losing her license) and after failing to obtain an interview with the mayor, who was out that afternoon.
Your misfortune, by the way, was reading about this. I made it just short enough that you didn't skip it. One final GRRRRR.
The Kinnelon Road Jughandle Traffic Light
I haven't mentioned this for a while, but since I'm whining, I'll mention it now and then let it go for another year, during which it still won't be timed correctly.
Cleaning up yesterday, I found and threw away the Ticketmaster correspondence involved in obtaining last year's Melissa Etheridge concert tickets. I notice that I had somehow agreed to and paid a $25 or so "convenience charge." You might properly ask: "Why didn't you throw away that Ticketmaster correspondence earlier. Didn't you know you'd just get annoyed on seeing it again?" My response would be: "I'm not sure why I got annoyed. Everyone knows how rapacious Ticketmaster is and that by now our violent hatred has been reduced to a quiet seething."
The NJ motor vehicle bureau likewise has a $2 "convenience charge" for renewing each car registration by mail, a subject that may receive its own rant soon. (And whose convenience are they talking about, anyway?) Incidentally, I've figured out how to save the State millions of dollars and I think you should know before our governor.
I think it's leaking again, and a metal plate came partially loose in yesterday's storm and was making a horrendous banging noise until the wind died down.
Q: You got an iPad?
Thank You for Listening
I feel much better now.