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.




  1. You were right–the uniform is the key.  I work in a hosptial storeroom and wear a bright blue shirt and dark blue pants.  When I go to the supermarket, the drug store, the automotive dealer or the hardware store, everyone asks me where things are.  I send them all over.  One of these days I’m going to build up the courage to take over a checkstand.  Not even steal anything–just see how much chaos I can create.  Try it.  They’ll probably let you pass your own emissions test and clean your kids’ teeth.See you at the pub!

  2. I can explain the emissions thing – it’s all computerized and, in most vehicles, the jack where they plug in the computer is around where a person sitting in the driver’s seat would have their left knee.  Hence the removing of driver from car.

  3. Funny post.   All I know is that I seem to go around town passing out money to everyone I come in contact with, no matter what they represent.     Lately it’s the pharmacy, doctors, gas pump and grocery stores.     The bills I pay through the mail don’t count, do they?     What happens when I run out of money?     Do I get repossessed?   If there is a comfy bed, a computer and a TV there at the reposession place, I am ready to go.And where is the poor house anyway?    I am always hearing people talking about going to the poorhouse.

  4. So true.  My father-in-law, who was an obstetrician, used to deliberately dress like he was poor when he went out to purchase things like cars.  He felt like salespeople added a rich man fee onto their prices.  

  5. Excellent post – very true.  Fortunately the state of Ohio could care less how old your license plate, or even whether it’s legible. . .By the way, I was thinking about you yesterday, TR – I read that they are closing Randall Park Mall.  Remember heading out there by bus when it was new?  It was the cool place to be, for awhile.  I feel seriously old.  Of course, that could also have something to do with my 20th college reunion, happening this weekend. . .

  6. It’s a full scale conspiracy I tell’s ya.  I think it’s a ploy just to see who’s paying attention.  If you’re not they all just keep your money and move on to the next poor soul.  I have thought this for quite a while.  They can really get you if you aren’t wary.  I never pay up front anymore with medical / dental stuff.  I wait to see how much (if any) my insurance company thinks they want to pay, and then pay the balance due.  I’d be charging ‘money lady’ interest.  Lets see, 5% for two months, no wait, she’s had the money already for a month, so 3 months.  Oh nevermind.  See it’s all designed to be impenitrable and so much hassle that you just give up.

  7. By the way the last time you were out at the pub with ratted hair was quite some time ago.  I think I was there.  Well maybe not for the ratted hair part…

  8. Tag taxes and emissions inspections are pure evil.  Actually, I wouldn’t mind the emissions inspection so much, if they included all vehicles.  But in Georgia, trucks and buses are allowed to spew out great plumes of smog, while I have to pay 25 bucks for a guy in a blue jacket to hook my car up to a computer for 5 minutes.

  9. there is a word – i can’t think of it. when the government forces it’s people to comply with rules in the feigned interest of pollution, but then exempts the actual polluters – but instead of just taking the money and using it efficiently, they create these monstrosity buildings where they pretend to measure a vehicles emissions and then forces it’s people to pay for this service as though they are actually providing a service that we, the people, actually want, or need, or even care about.  If you take away the emissions process, will people drive vehicles that pollute more? would you run out and modify your vehicle to burn less clean?  And, if you care about pollution, why exempt older cars? (“We are idiot politicians” is the obvious, but not the correct answer.) So why have the system in the first place? if it is about money, then just take the money, please.  why would you build a giant program that costs tons of money to operate just to make money – it makes absolutely no sense. oh, I thought of the word – it’s “bullshit.”time for my meds now, before my head explodes.

  10. can’t fight city hall. As for class and clothes, I wear a security guard uniform in my job. Not sure if it changes much, other than while working the gate, many people call me ‘sir’ including people who make ten times the salary I do. Is it honest respect or just BS to get in the gate? Don’t know, don’t care. I like the job and it gives me the money I need to pay for govmint taxes and fees. 

  11. Oh mah gawd … I think you may be my long-lost sister!! I love your rant about “Revenue Enhancement” – Living in Canada, I don’t have exactly the same problems you do, but governments are governments, and they always seem to want more money for some fool scheme or another.Love your wit and style! If you don’t already have a regular column in a newpaper or magazine, I urge you to submit samples! With a sympathetic smile, and an empty bank account;Fondly,CanadianBroad

  12. AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!  Sorry.  It irritates me just reading about it.  Of course, on a positive note, it makes me appreciate the fact that our state doesn’t pull that crap with our plates.  On the other hand, however, they tax us out the nose on gas but won’t put excess taxes on anything tobacco-related because it’s our biggest crop.  So, you know, you can get lung cancer cheaper here.The dentist thing cracked me up.  My ob/gyn just did that to me.  To their credit, though, they refunded the money before I even knew the insurance covered it.

  13. my dad was so mad when he read he would have to pay to keep his original plates number….he wouldn’t do it. according to him washington state is always looking for some way to nickle and dime him.

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