My Tax Dollars At Work

I live in a pretty nice town.  We pay high taxes and because of that we enjoy a lot of nice amenities like good schools, lots of parks, very few potholes and more.

This week I started realizing I pay way too much in taxes.  In one day I witnessed the following shitty examples of my tax dollars at work:

I drove my daughter to her school and when I pulled into the neighborhood by her school I noticed 2 police cars pulled over to the curb.  I wondered what the deal was.  It's a pretty busy street during drop off and pick up and I thought maybe they were setting up a speed trap or something.  I slowed down to the speed limit (no sense being made the example for the rest of the swagger wagons coming through behind me) and proceeded with extreme caution to the school.

I dropped off my daughter and headed back home.  I remembered the speed trap and slowed down to a crawl as I came up to where I'd last seen the police officers.  The police cars were now parked and there were 2 police officers walking along the sidewalk.

Ooooh, manhunt!, I thought.  Now it's getting exciting.  Maybe there's a bank robber on the run or something like that.  

Being the nosybody that I am, I practically stopped to watch where they were going.  They walked up the sidewalk and stopped by a small pear tree that was the apparent victim of a heartless hit and run.  The tree was snapped at the base and lying there dying.  The first officer walked all the way around the tree, giving it little kicks here and there, taking notes while the second one took photos from every imaginable angle.

Are you kidding me with this shit?

First of all, who in their right mind thought for a second, "Someone ran over my tree!  9! 1! 1!"????

Who does that?  People who name their kids Londyn, that's who.

"Umm, hello?  Police?"

"Yes, ma'am, what is your emergency?"

"Yes, it's a big one!  Someone ran over my pear tree!  It's dead!  It's dead!"

"Wait a minute, slow down ma'am I can barely understand you.  Who is dead?   Are you sure they're dead?"

"I'm positive!  My tree is broken in half.  It could not have survived!"

"Did you take a pulse - Wait a minute.  Did you say a tree???!"

"Yes.  My pear tree.  That tree was like $200 and someone just ran it over.  I need an officer here now.  There needs to be an investigation.  I will be pressing charges!"

"Yeah, uh, OK.  Fine.  We'll send someone out in the next few days.  Bye."

Then, how sad and pathetic it must be for the cop who gets that call!

"Alright, everybody listen up.  It's time to hand out assignments for today.  Carter and McMillan, you get the robbery on the west side of town, Johnson and Phillips, you guys check out the missing person reports.  Let's see what else?  Oh yeah, Fisher and Burgess, you guys head over to that fancy pants neighborhood with the hit and run."

"Ooh, a hit and run, Chief?"

"Yeah, don't get too excited.  It's a tree.  Lady says it's pretty expensive - we all know that's bullshit - but she's a real pain in the ass so take lots of photos and a full report.  Make it look convincing.  You can shred it when you get back and take a long lunch."

I'm pretty sure when these men signed up for the police academy they dreamed of helping people, saving lives, taking down bad ass criminals and shooting a gun every day.  They never dreamed of finding the minivan that ran over a stupid tree.

And who in the world thought it would be a good idea to send out TWO cops for this travesty?  What a waste of resources.  And they couldn't ride together?  They each needed a car??  WTF??

I guess I should be happy that I live in a town with such a low crime rate that they've got two cops available for a hit and run to a tree.

After I passed the police officers doing their very important and time consuming work, I headed over to the local library to return some books.

My library is a beautiful building very close to my home.  I think it's only about 10 years old and every time I turn around they are doing something to update it.  This summer it was new concrete at the front the entrance.  I can't tell you what was wrong with the old, but obviously someone was highly offended by a crack or a divet that I couldn't see and so it was replaced with brand spanking new concrete.

The building is currently being remodeled because we are some serious lazy ass people - myself included.  Our library has this great little system where you can go online and reserve a book and then a librarian pulls the book for you and puts it on the hold shelf.  You get an alert when your book is on the shelf and you can go and pick it up.  I do this all the time.  I never go to the library and look up a book in the catalog and then actually navigate through that bastard Dewey's Decimal system to find said book.  I just point and click and wait for the librarian to do the work for me.

Now, this is where I draw the line.  I do actually drive to the library (it's too far to walk) and park my car and walk into the building to get my reserves from the shelf.  For those lazier library goers there is a drive up window where you can pull up and a librarian will get your holds for you.

They are remodeling the library because the drive up window makes this location is the most popular for holds and they have run out of space to house all the hold items.  We have libraries all over the county but people will drive miles out of their way just so they don't have to get out of the car to get their copy of Bossypants (seriously funny book, BTW)?!  Yup.  It's the McDonalds of the library world.  Pretty soon they'll be able to offer you a large mocha frappe with your Complete Works of Shakespeare.

What irritates me is this is the same library that had to cut their hours recently because of budget cuts.

This is also the same library where I overhead this conversation that day:

"I've lost my book and I need to pay for it," says the library card holder.

"OK, let's see.  It's $12.00," says the wimpy librarian (why do librarians constantly live up to their stereotypes??).

"Here you go," she hands him the money.

"Great., this is your third lost book."

"Yeah, I have a hard time keeping track of them.  And one was actually wrecked, it fell in a pool.  You guys just wouldn't take it back in that condition."

"Oh.  Yeah, water is pretty hard on books.  So...OK, it looks like you've got some other fines accumulating.  Did you want to pay those now....or...."

"Well, how much are they?"

"You've got two books that are overdue.  One is at $3.60 and the other is at $5.40."

"Yeah, I don't have that much with me right now. Plus, I think that one - the $5.40 one - is lost too.  I've looked everywhere for it and I can't find it.  I've got one more place to look though."

"Oh, well, you're almost maxed out."

"Maxed out?"

"Yeah, did you know that fines only go to a $6.00 maximum?"

"Wait, do you mean you can only charge me $6.00 total?"

"Yes.  And then it just holds until you pay it."

"Does it affect my ability to check out books?"

"Only if it becomes a real problem."  (At what point does it become a real problem, jackhole??  Three lost books - excuse me - two lost books and one destroyed book sounds like a problem to me.)

Now her wheels are spinning.  "Soooo....if I had just not reported that book lost, I would have been fined $6.00 and then it would be done?"

"Well, yes....I guess.  I mean, but the book was lost."

"Right, but you don't know that unless I tell you."

"Yes, I guess so...," now the genius librarian has realized he's let the cat out of the bag.  Now he sees where she's going and he can't stop her.  He starts to turn red with...anger?  No, I think it's simple embarrassment at how stupid he is.

"OK, so then in two more days, I'll reach $6.00 and I'll max out.  So I'll just call that one overdue.  I'll say I'm still reading it.  I'll bring back the other one, I know where it is."

"Well, yeah, I guess that would work..."

"Perfect!  That's what I'll do then.  Great.  Thanks very much!"  And she's off to lose even more books.

What a couple of douches.

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Blogger Meaniepants said...

Dang!! As a library fan I loved the overdue interaction! I have lost a book r two (over about 15 years)and I am alwqays overdue but man! They don't have such a sweet systemn as your library does!! I have had to pay as much as $15 in late fees!! I need to move to Kansas!!

Kate said...

'cause I hadn't returned a book on time {I was busy doing things like giving birth and finishing finals.} I was give a $50 fine to replace the {$8} book and if I didn't do it on time, I would have jail time. Period. Guaranteed. Damn. Now I'm scared to rent books because I'm afraid I'll forget to take one back. And I'll admit there was a time when i rescued unloved books from the library. {Translation:: I stole beloved books that hadn't been checked out in 20+ years.} But that was a long time ago and I'm reformed. Plus, I'm banned from that library.

Kate said...

Not sure what happened to the first part of my comment, but it was ::

About this time last year, I received a letter from my library.

Also, I'm perfectly literate in English, I'm just a bad typer. Really bad.

Anonymous said...

As a librarian, let me say a few things: Holds are awesome, and they're really easy to do. Though I would hate to have to deal with a drive-by window.

Most of the times, fines do max out. Usually, at the time they max out, the system automatically sets them as 'Lost', and the library will either buy a new copy if it's a popular check-out, in which case you'll have a hard time returning it, or accept a return of a decent condition book and the payment of the fines. Things happen (kids, medical emergencies, getting lost in the move). Plus, if she just pays the late fees without saying it's lost or returning it, she still has it checked out, and that means she'll start racking up late fees again.

Most libraries have a block on check-outs due to how much you owe, but we don't care how much you lose, really. As long as you pay, it just rotates stock. You should always wait for a book sale, or outright ask to buy a book instead of stealing it. Usually if a book has low check-outs, unless it's a difficult to come by reference, the library will part with it for a pittance - the shelf space is actually really valuable.

And libraries love people who lose or rack up fines, as long as they pay them off. They're a good source of cash to buy new materials. What we're not very good with is people who claim until they're blue in the face they returned an item if we've ripped the shelves apart looking for them and they don't show up. THOSE are the people WE want to punch in the throat.

Wendy Wainwright said...

I was banned from all the libraries in the town I grew up in (Burbank, CA). I love books. LOVE them. So I don't like to give them back. EVER. My parents eventually realized (after I was no longer permitted to check books out from any of our libraries) that buying me books was actually significantly cheaper.

Betsy said...

I hate shit like this. One day I was awakened in the middle of the night to a police helicopter overhead bellowing "we have you surrounded! Come out with your hands up!" Did they SERIOUSLY need a HELICOPTER to make that announcement at 3am?!? A megaphone in front of the property was not sufficient? It was too noisy at 3am for the megaphone to be heard?!? I have also noticed a pattern of the police helicopter coming out more frequently on very nice, sunny days. Hmmmmmm? Also, why is it that the nicest streets with no pot holes get re-paved regularly, but my street that had all the water mains replaced last fall, and is like a pothole obstacle course has never been repaved. I wish there was a taxes allocation box on my return.

Donna said...

I get the whole "tax dollars at work" thing. Our little town has a big festival this weekend. The city maintenance crews are busy getting ready. Yesterday they began the arduous (I guess) task of setting up a snow fence perimeter around the park. The posts were all lined up and there were 6 (SIX!) city workers standing around looking at the posts. To add insult to injury, they arrived in 5 pickups. My hubby said they came in 5 pickups because they were coming back from different coffee shops around town.

Unknown said...

e-book loans return themselves :)

144OldHersheyRoad said...

Sadly I have returned books that weren't checked in correctly, but I would find it on the shelf myself to show the librarian. I started to use a different library after the third time. It happens, but come on...

Lindsay said...

I went to the "big" library (our area has 7 branches) to help my 5 year old son pick out a bunch of books for our trip. That we were leaving on the next day. That we were feverishly running errands trying to get ready for. With a very cantankerous 1 year old in tow. The library was the middle stop to break up the boredom of Target and oil changes. Librarian informs me I have a $3 late fee from a YEAR ago (last time I was at that library, apparently returning books, which were late.) I tell her I have no cash but they don't accept cards. I tell her I will mail the fine. She then looks at my precious, intelligent, kind hearted, sweet boy and says "Sorry, you can't check those out until you pay the fine." I implore her, again, to let me mail her $3 when I get home, explaining our day and that "these books are a really important part of our trip". No dice: "I'm sorry but if I did that for you I'd have to do it for everyone." Completely unswayed by his fat, rolling tears, and his panicked "Mom? I can't get the books? Why????" Finally I say "Or I guess I can load my 2 crying children back into the car and drive to an ATM to get $20 out and pay the fees from that and then load them back in the car, back here, back out of the car...OR YOU COULD JUST LET ME MAIL YOU THE $3 WHEN I GET HOME??!!!" She finally let me take them, begrudgingly I might add. I was so pissed off. First, if the $3 was SO important why was I never notified by mail or phone or any of the other branches we more reqularly visit? Second, I've never had any offense before, ever! Third...who denies a wide eyed 5 year old boy with a stack of Magic Treehouse books and Spiderman comics who says "we're driving to North Carolina so we need lots of books for the trip!" I so wanted to send $3 in quarters and a mean note, but since I've been raised to kind I instead sent $20 and told them to apply it to someone else's fine, buy some new books, or put it in the collection can for the SPCA. But I definitely crafted the nasty note in my head, several times!!

Unknown said...

Here in Ontario Canada they don't charge late fees anymore!

Cynthia said...

Yay! I knew that my constantly turning books in late was sort of a good thing - more money for my library.

Oni no Tenshi said...

What town is as awesome as that? I live in the most expensive place in the US with the highest cost of living and few jobs and we have meth heads patrolling the streets and junkies stealing locked up bikes out of backyards and people leaving needles all over the damn place. I want to MOVE. :(

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