Recently, it became necessary for me to do some business with the state of Florida. I do not like doing business with the state of Florida. Many — let us say very many — folks there have not gotten the surgeon general’s urgent notice that cigarettes will kill you. And everyone around you. Usually to enter a place of business you have to fight your way through the noxious cloud of smoke created by the twenty people standing one inch from the only door, puffing away before they enter, bringing their miasma in with them. Of course, if I lived in a state whose two salient features were alligators and hurricanes I might take my chances with Marlboros, too.
Also, Walt Disney World notwithstanding, Florida is not the happiest place on earth. Many — let us say very many — folks in Florida are grouchy and/or impatient. I was once making a left hand turn off a highway on a stretch of road that featured a double yellow line. I had my turn signal on, the strangeness of which is what probably confused my fellow drivers, those few that weren’t texting and perhaps saw it. I was passed from behind by two cars, one on my left and one on my right, both of them traveling at, oh I don’t know, Mach 1.3. Both drivers gave me the official Welcome to Florida single digit salute as they sped past.
In addition, many — let us say very many — folks in the land of George Zimmerman are carrying a concealed weapon. These weapons will kill you just like cigarettes, only usually quicker, depending upon how good a shot the person assaulting you is. Official Florida state sport: drive-by shooting.
So, as you can see, doing business in the Melanoma State is sort of like getting your hair cut by guillotine. If you don’t make any sudden moves you probably won’t get hurt but the process makes for some tense moments.
Anyway, a letter came in the mail, indicating I owed Florida some money. This is not surprising. Florida does not have a state income tax. That is why retirees are three-deep in most places. In order to pay Governor Rick Scott (campaign slogan “My policies are scarier than my big bulbous head.”) enough to keep his big bulbous head shaved, Florida has to have another source of income. One source is to put a tax or a surcharge or a fee or an assessment on everything besides income. If they ever begin to tax synonyms, we are all done for. This is not outside the realm of possibility.
On the back of the envelope the letter came in were the following verbatim notices. I am not making these up.
Expect longer wait times for walk-in service due to the state’s installation of a new computer system.
The state advises their new system may experience service outages/slow-downs through 2017.
The Tax Collector’s office is required to use the state’s system and wants to help its customers avoid longer wait times by encouraging online and mail-in payments.
For current office locations visit our web site or call.
Due to a new computer system, service will slow down. (Speaking for everyone who hesitates to install even a new operating system, just let me say “Told you so.” There is no computer system so bad that is can’t be made worse by “improving” or “updating” or “refurbishing” or — saints preserve us — “replacing”: the four horsemen of the computer apocalypse.)
Officials — those great guys and gals who work in the state capital of Tallahassee which is (A) hard to spell and (B) barely even in the state—- bought a system which they know is going to work really slowly. Or perhaps not at all. This particular “improvement” will last for the next nine months. At that point, it (the system, certainly not the officials) might have mercy on the good upstanding Florida citizens (all four of them) and self-destruct.
What the Tax Collector is saying here is “Don’t blame me. This stupid new computer system was not my idea. Ol’ Jeb Bush is looking pretty good now, isn’t he?”
The web site is, of course, embedded in the new computer system. Don’t get your hopes up. You can call but in order to improve service, we might be replacing the phones with tin cans and string.
It’s not too often you see a place of business saying “Don’t come here. Avoid coming here. We are begging you not to come here. But if you do, don’t forget your cigarettes.”
Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for the Troy Daily News and Piqua Daily Call.