Ha! You thought this was going to be about politics, didn’t you? Well it’s not. Not entirely, anyway. My first topic is Government Revenue Enhancement Schemes.
The Great State of Washington has once again demanded that I pay for the privilege of owning my vehicle. Ok, I’m used to that. But this time the State upped the ante on me and demanded that I purchase a new set of license plates. What’s wrong with my old plates? Too old. After all, seven years of service is all you can ask of a couple of sheets of metal that do nothing but sit on the front and back of the car and proclaim its governmental identity. Revenue: $24.
Scanning further down the paper I learned that my new plates would have a different number than my current plates unless I paid to keep the number. I like my number. I have a clever mnemonic scheme for remembering my number. And various entities have records of my number, like the school and the church that kindly allows my agency to use their parking lot. If my number changes I may have an angry horde of Catholics chasing me down and insisting that I get my van out of their lot tout suite. Revenue: $20.
And then I had to report to the Emissions Inspection Station. There I was greeted by a jovial fellow of around 60 clad in one of those blue jackets that clearly marks a member of the Automotive Profession.
I’ve been thinking about the class markers we adopt when we choose our clothing. I wonder if the world would interact with me in a qualitatively different way if I wore the uniform of another class. I’ve worn the Middle Class Mom garb for so long I don’t remember what it was like before. If I ratted my hair and donned cheap heels with spandex leggings and garish makeup, would the Emissions guy have used phrases other than the ones he said to me? Would the barista at Starbucks treat me with less respect, or maybe more? And what if I went Rich Professional and decked myself out in a tailored suit, coiffed hair, and shoes designed by somebody you may have heard of if you care about such things? If I bellied up to the bar in that get-up, would the bartender offer me a better drink than I would get otherwise?
Anyway, Emissions Guy asked what year my Honda Odyssey was born. He seemed quite pleased when I said 2001. “Oh, you won’t have ANY problem. We’ll have you out of here in a jiff.”
So, if it is well known to Emissions Guys that the 2001 Honda Odyssey passes emissions with only a polite turn-your-head-and-cough, why must I present it for inspection? All together now: Revenue Enhancement.
When I pulled up to the younger but also blue jacketed Test Guy, he instructed me to exit my vehicle and have a seat in the sitting area. Last time I had an emissions test I stayed in the car and pressed the gas pedal or something, but now I can’t be trusted to do it. Maybe they think I’ll cheat. Or maybe it provides jobs for more Test Guys. I don’t know. In any case, my butt had barely hit the chair in the sitting area when the screen overhead indicated I could return to my car because I’d passed the test. Revenue: $15.
Then there’s my dentist. Yes, the same one that sent me a threatening letter recently. When I took my kids in for their check ups, the Money Lady told me I had to pay $100 per child, because our insurance would take that amount out to satisfy the deductible. Ok, whatever. Who can argue about insurance? Who understands their insurance policies? Money ladies only.
So I paid and my kids got their teeth cleaned and they got their goodie bags of new toothbrushes and floss and cheap toys and I went away happy. Then the statement from the insurance company arrived in the mail. They paid the whole amount. Nothing was applied to the deductible.
I called the Money Lady to explain that she had double billed, which I’m pretty sure is, technically speaking, theft, and therefore illegal. She could not imagine how that error could have occurred, and yes of course she would be refunding me that money, eventually. It would take a few weeks, of course, because…why? She didn’t explain why. It just would, ok? And I haven’t seen a refund yet. Revenue: $200.
I could go on with more examples of the evil in the world and just how much evil has cost me lately, but I have to go rat my hair. Meet me at the pub, we’ll see what happens.