Saturday, January 26, 2013

Caught in a Set Up - Part 3 - No hope for the hopeless

This is part 3 of a 3-part true short story.
Part One can be found here Just the facts, ma'am
Part Two can be found here: WTF?

Are you worried about the government stealing your money in Washington? Fuggedaboutit! Look closer. It's as near as your downtown Clerk of the Court and County Sheriff’s office.

Part 3
No hope for the hopeless

            I went to my local tax collectors office, Form D6 in hand. I checked the number on the next tab. It was 83. I waited a second in the very crowded room to hear a clerk call “Number 46!” 
            I left.
            I went back a few hours later, and the room was still full. I took a tab numbered 26. I sat down and pulled out reading material I failed to bring earlier. The clerk called “Number 74!” The gentleman sitting next to me exclaimed, “I’m next!” I asked how long he’d been waiting with his number 75. He told me two hours.
            I left.
            My local tax collectors office opens at 8:30am. At 8:15, I joined the line of about twenty other souls currently enslaved to the bureaucracy of the County and the State. When the office opened, and I reached the door, I was handed number 24. I settled into my chair and waited.
Forty-five minutes later, my number was called. Keeping it as brief as possible, and trying to remain as calm as possible, I gave the woman my story and my Form D6.
            You must know that I had to ask.
            “Why is it the Orange County website offers all services online, only to require this form be presented in person?” I knew she couldn’t answer with anything other than a sigh and a feeble attempt at non-responsibility. She didn’t disappoint.
            “I don’t know, ma’am. I can only process the paperwork.”
            I looked away as she did just that. After a few keystrokes and shuffling of papers, she said, “Sixty dollars and twenty-five cents, please.”
            My neck popped as I jerked my head back to face her.
            “I beg your pardon?”
            “$60.25, please.”
            The file folder I carried contained all of the paperwork I had received and copies of those I’d printed out. Digging through them, I pulled out the document from the State of Florida saying the $60 would be due if I didn’t pay by the 29th.
            She said, “Six Dollars, ma’am. Not Sixty.”
            Still taken aback, but slightly relieved, I asked, “For what?”
            “The processing fee.”
            The look of strained patience was priceless. “You can choose not to pay,” she said, “otherwise, $6.25.”
            And do you know what I got for my six bucks? She scanned my Form D6, which I had printed at home, from their website, then she emailed it to the State! She even gave me the original back! That explains the forced attendance. To collect a processing fee for something I could have done at home!
            I paid $316.25 in total, plus interest on my credit card thank you very much “online service”. I left irritated, frustrated, and feeling violated by those I once trusted. Damn. I didn’t even get kissed.
            Where's the hope? The lawyers I had turned to for help became WM. By the way, I can’t help but feel their office didn’t bother to contact me to ask my side of the story because they must have an agreement of some sort with the court. Either that, or perhaps it was simply they got their $90, so why bother?
Yes, I’m bitter.
            As for the original infraction, my mother taught me to look both ways before crossing the street. Now I find she was wrong. I can cross the street anytime, with or without traffic, because the law is on my side. It will make me impenetrable to oncoming traffic.
            Would someone make sure this is on my gravestone…

Here lies JL Mo
She obeyed the law to death

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