I was working in the office yesterday when in Guido from the city came in, asking to see our business license. Guido is not his real name, but he had the air of a low-end mafioso. I had no trouble showing him our license, since it’s prominently posted in the break room, and we’d recently received a bill for the renewal. As a bonus, he corrected the spelling of our company, since some idiot had written it down incorrectly and since no-one at the business license office ever answers the phone, we had had no way of correcting it otherwise. Then he pointed out that our business license was due on the 15th, and even though the notice says we have to mail it in, it’s perfectly acceptable to pay it in person. And if it’s not paid on time, we’ll get hit with lots and lots of fines, hint, hint, hint, and really it would be swell if we paid in person, it would save us 50 cents in postage! I wonder if what I was really supposed to do was peel 3 $100 bills off of the stack of petty cash we don’t have, with an extra $20 for good luck and expeditious service, but really, I’m just going to mail in the check.
I’m still a bit sore about the fact that when we moved our offices to San Jose, the same office tried to shake us down for the previous two years of business tax license payments, never mind that we had actually had offices in an entirely different city, Santa Clara, the entire time. As I said, no one at the business tax office answers the phone, or returns messages, so Peter had to go down in person to find someone and explain the situation. And even then, we had to show our leases for both offices, plus our previous stationary, and get the property manager to show up and swear an affidavit that we had not been in the building before they had to remodel an office for us. C’mon, I love San Jose, and city taxes pay for the services I really care about, but enough with harassing small businesses! We’ll pay what we owe, but that’s enough, and I resent having to repeatedly prove innocence in the face of a very unfair presumption of guilt. Peter later pointed out Guido was also probably scoping us all the city businesses on the number of employees, amount of space, and cash registers, just to make sure the maximum tax is collected in all locations.
Meanwhile Joe, our business development manager was on the phone again with one of our clients, who once again, failed to pay our invoice in time, despite frequent reminders, warnings, dunnings, and even once a work stoppage. So the city can freely levy any extra fines, which we have to fight, and our client can stiff us without consequence.
Speaking of no consequences, I was briefly delighted earlier this week when I discovered Mr. Sleazebag the car thief had been caught–surprise, surprise–stealing a car, this time in Fresno. But that delight soon turned to dismay, when Mr. Sleazebag, already having skipped bail in San Jose, and later caught burglarizing my car, was also released from the Fresno jail, because they have no room for any more criminals. It was news that the Supreme Court authorized California State prisons to release 40,000 felons because of funding problems, but apparently, there are already areas in California where you can commit any number of felonies and you will not go to jail. Not surprisingly, Fresno has a lot of crime, because what criminals do is commit crimes, and when there’s no consequence to same, there’s more crime! If there were any doubt to how much Fresno sucks, it sucks even more now–and I wouldn’t mind, if they could even just keep their criminals inside their own city borders instead of exporting them for a meet, greet, and car ride with the San Jose police.
So after Guido left and it was clear our client was stiffing us again, I took the checks we did have down to our local bank. Apparently, they’ve become hip to what sorts if things can happen when you let tens of thousands of felons loose. They recently installed a massive plexiglass wall, reaching almost to the ceiling, to separate the tellers from the customers and other assorted scurvy lot. As I slid the checks and the deposit slip through the narrow slot, reminiscent of the one at the gas station or scary flophouses in rundown neighborhoods, I had to restrain myself from squishing my face against the plexiglass and making fish faces at the teller. No doubt such an innocent act might have gotten me tossed into a federal prison, one of the few places in this state where there’s still room for miscreants. Well, I guess it’s a good thing I’m not in jail, and anyone who wants to rob our bank will have a hard time doing so.