Thursday, January 24, 2008

And They Call Them Civil Servants...Part 1

I've been lost in bureaucratic red tape for the last couple of days. No, let me rephrase that, I have been tied up, tangled, dragged around town, in red tape for two days. I will share a little bit of my story with you for two reasons- pure entertainment value and two to help give some helpful advice along the way.

It all started with a notice in my mail box that I had a certified letter waiting for me at the post office. Unfortunately, this notice didn't arrive until late Saturday afternoon, too late for me to go to the Post Office in town to pick it up. I have issues with this, but that will have to wait for another day. So Tuesday, since Monday was a holiday, I go to the Post Office. The line is out the door giving me visions of Christmas all over again. But not to worry because there is a special little door that has a buzzer I can ring for people who just need to pick up mail. I look pityingly at the long line of people waiting for the three open windows as I set baby in carrier down by the door. I ring the buzzer and wait. Oh, you know what comes next don't you? I wait for a good ten minutes, while practicing my relaxation breathing techniques. Finally, I ask the Post Office employee working the window next to the door if anyone is working here. She looks at me expressionless and because of my remarkable ability to read lips I'm able to make out her mumbled response before she goes back to ignoring me..."Oh, probably not. We don't have enough workers I guess." I double check the hours on the door, yes they should be open.
Now here is my first piece of advice: Don't go to the Post Office after a holiday weekend and don't believe any hours they post.

So I got to the back of the line, that now only had two postal workers working (I'm assuming one went to lunch) and waited with baby for twenty minutes. Little One and I entertained the folks in line and I felt like I had done my civic duty with this, but the jury was still out on the civil servants behind the counter.

Back out to the car and opening the letter I find it is a letter from the county's tax assessor. It reads as such:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. *********:
Your check # **** issued on 12/28/07 for the amount of 52.80 has been returned to this office by your bank (remember the your bank part because this is a false statement to be discovered later due to my stealthy investigating skills) due to REFER TO MAKER. (What does that mean? Later we will discover it is code for "no one has a clue".)
This check was for automobile license fee for tag/plate number ****** registered to you.
This check must be redeemed with CASH, MONEY ORDER OR CASHIER'S CHECK. YOUR PERSONAL CHECK WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. (this was all underlined because clearly the all caps may not have gotten my attention) Additionally, a service charge of $25.00 must be paid at time of redemption of your dishonored (I have brought shame to my family) check.
If you have not redeemed your check within ten (10) days from the date of this letter, the County Sheriff, Highway Patrol or Police (what about the bounty hunters, FBI, National Reserve, Militia Men) will be requested (now how would that request go exactly) to apprehend your vehicle, remove and return the tag/plate to this office. (Does that mean they will come cuff my vehicle and strip it of it's tags and plates right out in the open where everyone can see? Poor, poor car, the humiliation!)
If you have any questions regarding this letter please feel free to contact our office at #***-****.

****** ******* (actually signed)

(then a handwritten for before:) ******* ******(actual typed name)
Tax Assessor-Collector

Now this is important because this man, my elected official, didn't actually sign this letter. Someone else in his office did, then hand wrote for before my actual tax collector's name. This is what we might call foreshadowing.

One important tidbit to share here is this: we had more than enough money in our account to cover this check. And as most of you probably have, our savings account is attached to our checking to cover anything that may go through when there isn't enough. So unless I go out write a check for that new Lexus sedan my husband has been admiring, we should never bounce a check!

So second piece of advice: Don't assume ,because you actually have money in your account, that you can just write checks and they will be honored. What a silly, silly idea!
Check in tomorrow to see what Kara does next...Will her car be snatched from her driveway? Will anyone be able to give her the definition of REFER TO MAKER? Will the tax assessor collector ever answer his phone or return from two hour golf games, urr, I mean lunches? Find out tomorrow!


Myfriendconnie@SmockityFrocks said...

Funny! (But only because it's happening to you and not me.)

Maybe I'll blog about the hospital losing baby's newborn screenings and also claiming that she was NEVER BORN THERE!! Sheesh!

Anonymous said...

Grrr! I have a beef with the Post Office myself. I was #145 in line(and they were on the 80s) just before Christmas because: a) the stamp machines (two of them) were "out of order", b) the highly advertised and much touted automated mailing machine was "not in service", and c) I had two packages that needed to be mailed in time for Christmas. The line was out the door and not moving AT ALL because one clerk was doing Passport paperwork, one clerk was available for mail pick-up only, and one clerk was selling stamps only, leaving one clerk to handle the many, many people who wanted to mail packages. I left and went to the UPS Store and they promptly accepted my packages, and I was on my way in about five minutes. However, UPS lost one of the packages and it took two weeks to find it and have it delivered to a town not far from here! Service! Bah! Humbug!

Kara said...

Connie that trumps all, did they think you were making your childs birth up?!!
The Post Office is a birthing place for many horror stories. I understand the frustration with lost packages, but at least at UPS they know how to service their customers. The people at our store here are very helpful and friendly:)

Sasha @ Cherished Moments said...

Ooohh... I can't wait for the next instalment... Does "Refer to Maker" mean that you have to pray to the Lord that this situation doesn't drive you insane??

I have had bank issues myself recently... They keep taking our monthly mortgage payment out of the wrong account, and overdrawing it by $2000. I keep refusing to pay the overdrawn fees. It's a Mexican stand-off.

Kara said...

Sasha that is great, I think I did do a lot of talking to God during this, lol.