Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Is Apparently My Monday

Without warning, our coffee pot stopped working this morning. How many months has it been since I purchased a new coffee maker? Three, maybe four? How could it just stop working?

We boiled water in a teapot, which promptly boiled over onto my stove top, and poured the water through the filter to at least partake in the juice to get us going for the rest of the day. But it wasn't the same.

But that's not all. I had errands to run and tasks to accomplish. How did that go, you ask? Thanks for asking, but it sucked.

The non-functional, broken coffee maker was just the beginning.

I would love for this state to come into the 21st century but I don't think it's going to happen any time soon.

A couple of years ago, Tom bought an old travel trailer from a guy who leases the shop next to his. Tom gutted the inside of the trailer and made it functional, comfortable and pleasing to the eye. Now that's it's pretty much finished, except for a little paint here and there, we plan to pull it on our trip this Christmas, so I went out this morning to get it registered.

Here's how things work here. If you own a home, you pay real estate taxes. If you don't own a home (or even if you do), you have personal property taxes. We are taxed every year for our cars, trucks, boats, trailers and anything else that requires a title and registration with the state.

I am not permitted to register the trailer, however, until I can provide documentation from the county assessor's office that I have claimed ownership of the property and it is duly assessed for next year's personal property tax bill.

So, first stop is the assessor's office. I enter a small office with four women sitting at four desks with large computer towers, computer screens and small printers on each of them. I get the trailer added to our list of personal property by woman #2, but this same woman who prints out my list of personal property with its assessed value cannot officially stamp the printout and I must then head down the hall where four other women are sitting in front of computers AND are in possession of a coveted "stamper". I'm the only person standing in front of the long counter. The first woman is staring at her computer screen, but is not helping anyone, so I step up to the counter in front of her.

"I need to have this stamped," I say, holding up my list of property.

She ignores me and continues looking at her computer screen. I stand there a few seconds waiting for her to finish whatever she is doing, which appears to be nothing. She doesn't respond. At all. So I look down the counter at the three other women sitting in front of computer screens, make eye contact with the next one and ask, "Can you help me?"

She responds, "Yes." I move down the counter to stand in front of her, hand her the printed sheet, she looks at it, picks up her trusty stamper and with a grand motion, deftly stamps and initials the bottom of the sheet. I'm now official.

Oh, but wait, she notices that I didn't call in during the allotted time period so she needs to make me aware that when I receive my tax bill next year, a penalty will be applied. I forgot to call.

Yes, that's right. Everyone who owns any of the aforementioned titled items...every single person in the county...must call or visit the assessor's office and personally claim all personal property. The time frame is February through May every year. Whether there are any changes or not. The assessor's office assumes nothing. Everyone MUST call.

So let's do the math. There are almost 117,000 people in our county. First let's assume for argument sake that all of those folks are living in, on average, 3-person households and that each of those households owns at least one item, probably a car, that must be titled and, therefore, assessed. 117,000 people living in 3-person households is 39,000 households that must place calls to the assessor's office during a 119 day period, minus weekends, which leaves about an 87 day window. Each of those four women in the first office who assist customers and answer the phones will receive about 112 telephone calls a day ~ minus mine and maybe a few others.

Am I the only person who thinks this is about the dumbest system ever designed? Wouldn't it be simpler to have a coordinated state-wide system where ownership of all titled items is stored and available for all counties and municipalities? Sure it would. But then Arkansas would have to change something. God forbid.

Moving on. With my officially stamped personal property assessment list ~ printed on the correct color of paper ~ I head over to the revenue office to register the trailer.

I mention the "correct color of paper" because every year there is a designated official paper color on which the assessment must be printed and several years ago when Tom had to renew his registration for his sailboat, the assessor's office ran out of designated "pink" paper and the clerk was forced to print and stamp his list on white paper. Who knew this might throw a monkey wrench in the whole system.

For Tom, it was touch and go at the revenue office. He handed the revenue clerk the list on white paper.

"This isn't the pink paper. It's the wrong color paper," she said and handed it back to him.

Trying to explain, Tom said, "They ran out of pink paper, so they printed it on white paper."

"We can't accept it if it's not on pink paper," she responded.

Tom held it up in front of her and said, "But it has the official stamp."

"Let me talk to my supervisor," she said. She took the list out of his hand and walked to the back of the office. A head to head conference ensued and her supervisor placed a call, apparently to the assessor's office. They confirmed, in fact, they had run out of pink paper and were forced to print it on white paper.

This year, the designated official paper color is white. No problem there. But that does not mean I wouldn't meet a roadblock.

Here's how the transfer of ownership of our trailer took place. Tom bought the trailer from Bruce. Bruce bought the trailer from a guy from Georgia. In 2004, the Georgia owner received Bruce's money, gave Bruce a bill of sale, signed over the title and said thank you very much and exited the picture. Bruce then towed the trailer to the middle of a deer camp somewhere here in Arkansas, parked it and there it sat until he pulled it out and parked it in a storage area next to where Tom and Bruce lease their respective shops. There was no need to register the trailer because Bruce didn't move it for the 6 years he owned it. In 2010, he sold the trailer to Tom. Tom pulled it into the shop, gutted the inside and completely refurbished it and now we're ready to register it so we can pull wherever we go.

So. I have my assessment. Check. I have proof of insurance. Check. I have a bill of sale from Bruce to Tom. Check. I also have the bill of sale from the Georgia guy to Bruce AND the signed title from the Georgia guy.

Inside the building, I take my number: 64. I look up at the number counter: 44. Twenty people ahead of me.

Forty-five minutes later, my number is called. With all of my documentation in hand, I head to the counter, ready to finally scratch this task off my list. How could I be so foolish.

"I need to renew registration for three vehicles and register a newly acquired one, please," I said, handing my neatly organized paperwork to the clerk.

The clerk slowly reviews the documentation, then looks up at me and says, "Bruce didn't title it."

"What?" was all I could muster.

"Bruce has to title the trailer first and when he receives the title in the mail, then he can sign it over to you."

"But the other owner signed the title, releasing all interest." I'm standing in front of her thinking we only have three weeks until our Christmas vacation and there is no way Bruce is going to get a title through the state in time for him to finally sign it over to us in time to register the dang thing in time for our Christmas vacation!

"So what if we can track down the previous owner, have him give us a bill of sale and bypass Bruce altogether, would that work?"

"Well, technically, yeah."

"Okay, let's just renew the registration on the other three cars, leave the trailer out of it for now."

I walked out with three renewed registrations in hand. We'll deal with the trailer issue over the weekend.

Back in the car, I thought I could kill errands at once: purchasing a new coffee pot and grocery shopping. I was less than a mile from the closest Walmart, so that's where I go.

Inside the store, I head for the small appliances. I won't be purchasing another Mr. Coffee this time.

Evidently, Walmart has a contract with Mr. Coffee, the manufacturer of our coffee maker that just died an early death. The coffee maker shelf is lined with none other than, you guessed it, Mr. Coffee. Mr. Coffee in black. Mr. Coffee in red. Mr. Coffee in stainless steel. And one cheapy Black & Decker. No thanks. I don't want any of them. Mr. Coffee sucks and there are no other options. Besides, they didn't have any ciabatta rolls either. I'm oughta here.

I opt for purchasing my coffee pot separately from my groceries, so next stop, the mega strip mall called Conway Commons and I head for Target. Who knew parking would create high blood pressure and the desire to inflict pain, mayhem or even death on another person.

I pulled into the parking lot for Target and as I drove to the front of the store, I noticed an empty space. I headed up the row to the empty space, but as I started to crank my steering wheel toward the empty space, another vehicle pulled through from the space adjacent and stopped in the spot I'd planned to park. What???

So I cursed first, then drove up the row, made a turn and headed down the next row for another space. Eureka! Another empty parking space just 4 or 5 spaces down! And as I began to turn my steering wheel toward the empty parking space.... shit! Another car actually pulled through from the opposite side and parked right in front of me in the space I was hoping to occupy. I'm now beginning to understand the motivation for road rage.

I took a deep breath, finished my trek down the row and made the turn to head up another row, searching for a new open parking spot. There, about 8 spaces up, was another empty parking space. I increased my speed slightly and started to turn my car into the empty space... which quickly, again {freaking AGAIN!!!}, was overtaken by another bitch of a car that had pulled through from the row on the other side into MY space. My killer instincts are now well defined.

I decided a parking spot within reasonable walking distance to the store was completely out of the question and parked probably 2 miles from the store entrance {I'm exaggerating slightly}.

Once inside the store I encounter more Mr. Coffee's and a couple of Kitchen Aides. Then I spot a Bunn coffee maker. Yes, the Bunn 3-minute, 3 year warranty, extremely detailed set up coffee maker. Mostly, I'm attracted to the 3 year warranty. And it's on sale. Coffee maker purchased.

The grocery store is my final stop and I avoid Walmart and drive to the Kroger behind my house. I find nearly everything on my list except for the elusive ciabatta rolls. They'll have to wait for another time. I took my groceries home, unloaded them from the trunk and dumped them in the kitchen. But before I put everything away, I grabbed a glass, filled it with water, took two aspirin and a deep breath.


altadenahiker said...

Good lord, no wonder you needed some soothing music.

Terri said...

Karin, I visited your blog before I left, so I was quite calm at the outset. I should have returned to your blog afterward for a double dose.