Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How do you know that your phone call with the Department of Revenue won't be a smooth one?

Well, if it starts like this:

Department of Revenue Rep:  Ma'am what tax are you calling about?  It states there on your notice.
Me:  It's the tax with a code 321.
Rep:  I see, it's UBIT.  Ma'am do you know what's a UBIT tax?
Me:  Yes.
Rep:  What kind of a tax is that?  I never heard of it.

That should've been my cue to ask for a transfer to a different rep or a supervisor, but theoretically, the kind of tax they were charging my company shouldn't have made a difference in this instance.  So I proceeded to explain what kind of tax UBIT was and explained that we have already paid it; therefore, we were perplexed as to why we were billed again by the Department of Revenue.

Rep:  You filed twice, that's why we billed you.  Ignore the notice until we sort this whole thing out.
Me:  We did not file twice.  Why would we?
Rep:  Ma'am, I see here that we received two filings from you, and paid UBIT, I don't even know what this is, only once.  (I wish I were making this up or exaggerating.)
Me:  We filed once and another piece was just correspondence.  Not sure why it went into your system as another filing.  So what should I do now to avoid double tax?
Rep:  Send us a letter explaining that you filed twice and ask us to deleted the second filing.
Me:  But we did not file twice!
Rep:  Ma'am, I'm not going to beat here around the bush all day long.  You filed twice and that is that.  That's what I am seeing in the system.
Me: How do I know you will delete the letter and not the tax return or won't treat this piece of correspondence as the third filing?  And what should I do, ignore the notice or write a letter?
Rep:  Ma'am, I already told you everything.

At this point I admitted defeat, after all if the rep from the Department of Revenue told you that you filed twice, he simply cannot be wrong; you might have done it in your sleep or suffered a short term memory loss, but you surely did it.  Because it's right there, in the system.  And no one argues with the Department of Revenue and the system.

Me:  Well, thank you for your help.  By the way, what is your name?  You never introduced yourself.
Rep:  Bill.
Me:  Bill, do you have a last name?  Or some sort of ID that would uniquely identify you?
Rep:  I don't give out my last name.  We don't have IDs.  I am the only Fred in the Customer Service Bureau.

And finally the ray of sunshine!  On behalf of all tax paying entities in the state of Massachusetts,  I say thank God that there's only one Bill working for the Department of Revenue.

P.S. After some consideration, I called back and got someone polite and competent.  The matter is now resolved.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

If you are in need of a make over, just give us a call.

DS, upon finding his mother unexpectedly and uncharacteristically made up:  Why are you wearing this?
SW:  to look pretty.
DS, skeptically:  Pretty?  Why would you want to look pretty?
SW:  (at a loss)  I don't know.  Wouldn't you want your mother to look pretty?
DS:  (thinking and then a bit exasperated),  Okay, shiny lips are good.  But all of that (and he points in the direction of my eyes) is too much.   (Ha makes a face that I simply cannot describe well, a mix of dismay and disbelief that is so uniquely his and that I will probably never witness again.)
SW:  should I take it off?
DS:  Yes.  Will you?
SW:  No.  I like it.
DS:  (sigh)
SW:  Now go to sleep.

I do have some unethical ways of winning an argument with a child.  What?  You have a problem with that?  You should also go to sleep!  Now!

Monday, December 3, 2012

The blame game

I don't know whether feminism bashing became the latest trend, but frankly I am getting a bit tired of it.  I am tired of highly educated women who reaped all the benefits of feminism, such as education, suffrage, and equal opportunities at work, bashing that same feminism and blaming it for all social ills.  I am tired of this longing look at our past, with clearly defined gender roles, and cherry-picking of all the nice things about it, conveniently forgetting that not everything was nice and peachy.  Seriously, if a throw back to a time when woman's place was restricted to home is so desirable - please, half the world still lives this way and you are free to choose:  Pakistan, most of India, Saudi Arabia and a bunch of other countries where incidentally few women from U.S. are rushing to move.

The latest feminist bashing comes quite unexpectedly from Dawn Meehan of BecauseISaidSo blog.  In her latest piece, Dawn blames the lack of femininity in modern day women on some men's lack of desire to enter  marriage.  We can argue this premise until the cows come home (and are milked by the properly feminine women), it's not the premise that I find odd, it's Dawn's definition of femininity.  Based on all prior reading of Dawn's stuff, driving a car, being smart and educated, having strong opinions, wearing pants, participating in competitive sports - all the things at some point considered not appropriate for refined women - are not unfeminine.  What is?  Being able to change a tire, do minor household repairs and earning high enough salary to support oneself financially.  In a nutshell, not being a damsel in distress 24/7 and not even attempting to fake being one is why some men don't want to marry.

I have heard this idea before, that women are responsible for all social change.  Men remain more or less the same, it's us women who change social mores.  I don't know if it's empowering to women precisely because men in these scenarios sound like helpless creatures in need of control and manipulation.  However, it is very convenient for blaming - we can blame women for everything!  Obesity is the fault of working women.  High crime rate is the fault of single mothers.  Glass ceiling at work is the fault of working women who choose to procreate and have the audacity to like their children more than their careers.  High divorce rate is the fault of women not investing enough time into their families. And now men's lack of desire to marry is also somehow women's fault.

Do you know what I find very surprising?  It's rarely men who express these opinions and do this type of bashing.  It's mostly women bashing other women.  And somehow Dawn, a very intelligent woman, is missing a double standard in her own writing.  When she, the recently divorced mother of six, ended up without child support, a job or good prospects of finding one, there were quite a few people who criticized her choice to stay out of workforce for so long and not having a financial back up plan.  She felt that the consequence of her choice deserved sympathy, not scorn.  (And just to be clear, I think it absolutely did.)  Yet career women, due to the perceived consequences of their choice not to be completely financially dependent on men and thus turning men off marriage, deserve nothing but blame.

And the most surprising thing of all, is that the women Dawn describes - aggressive, constantly competing with the opposite sex in every facet of life, and out there to prove that they don't really need men -  are very rare in real life.  And you know what else?  Every single one I have met was married, some managed to land a husband more than once.  So maybe, it's not what's turning men off marriage after all?  Maybe, it's constant bashing of other women that does?  Or maybe it's our insecurities about our life choices, which make us bash each other, that are so off putting to men?