Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A State Of Incompetents

No matter what way you spell it, that's where I live. A place filled with incompetence and incompetents ad nauseum. As I will be leaving soon I have spent a good deal of time remembering all that has happened during my tenure here. I can still remember my introduction to this dreadful town. It was after our honeymoon in Maui had ended. We flew in to the Detroit airport and went to my family's place to pick up our wedding gifts. Then we drove down to Indiana. I will never forget the good feeling of arriving in the first home that I would share with my husband. There's a stretch of road not far from our apartment where the trees overhang and form a tunnel. It goes up a hill. That was the moment when I really felt at home. Those beautiful trees looked so much like Michigan trees. I rejoiced in the greenness of the place.

That was before I noticed that the beautiful trees intertwine through the power lines, causing power outages every time the wind blows more than 10mph. The hippy city government refuses to allow the electric companies to cut the trees away from the power lines. The road commission is also forbidden from trimming the growth that impedes sight along the roads. Most stop signs are covered by branches. It's generally a good idea to slow down at every intersection. No one actually stops anyway. But if you slow down at least you can figure out if a stop sign is there.

The driving was the second thing I noticed about this state. No one knows how to drive here. Not even the out of staters. It's as if they deposited that part of their brains in a large laundry basket at the border. Naturally, they never found the brain section again, who expects a laundry basket to stay put? If you see Indiana plates on a car run for cover. The driver will probably fail to notice you, cut in front of you, weave in and out of traffic and finally decide to drive too slow in the left lane. The driver will never get out of the left lane either, and never speed up. If the driver is on a cell phone or has a handicapped plate all bets are off. You're dead. You may as well make peace with your Maker.

Stores: another thing that failed to impress me about this place. First off, no one ever asks you if you need help. At least, hardly ever. No one cares. Then they try to sell the crappiest looking produce imaginable. When the green peppers go on sale I avoid them. I know they will be half rotten. But the store still thinks it's okay to sell them. The strawberries are usually so full of mold the day after they get put on the shelves that they resemble small rodents. But the stores still try to sell them. Honestly, it's disgusting. Then there's the meat. Never have I seen such meat. Once we purchased some chicken and some beef on the same day. The packages are made so that you can hardly see inside them. We put the meat in the freezer as soon as we got home. When we thawed it a few days later it was stinking rotten. I could not eat meat for several days after that experience. Every once in a while I have found a helpful store employee. Strangely enough, I insist on shopping at that establishment every time I need the goods they sell. I guess I value good service. Maybe everyone does too. Valuing customer service is surely the big secret that the rest of the world might want to let the state of Indiana in on.

Perhaps the government incompetents are the worst. I temp worked for the city more than a year ago for three months. It was quite an experience. I learned that the person who preceded me had made an enormous mess out of my job. I had to fix it. It did not take me long and I was working part time. The work was very easy. After two months they decided to hire a permanent person for my position. I interviewed for it. I know for a fact that I was the best person for the job, but I did not get the job. I am glad I did not get it now. Still, the reason I did not get that job remains an example of why I despise this town so much. The mayor decided to hire the deputy mayor's boyfriend and forced the department to do that. It was a crappy secretary position. The mayor having say over who gets hired to do the lowest job in the city seems kind of stupid to me. I wonder if he decides who cleans the toilets too.

Then there are the tax forms. They make no sense at all. I have been doing federal taxes and Michigan state taxes for many years now and I daresay I can usually do them correctly without having to refer to the instructions (which I understand) more than two or three times. The Indiana tax forms, even the EZ form, require you to scrutinize the incomprehensible instruction manual for every line. You still will not understand them, of course. Fortunately the online filing system asks the questions in a simpler format. About halfway through my tax filing I came upon a requirement that startled me. Indiana requires that you declare every online out of state purchase you made. You have to pay sales tax to the state of Indiana for each item purchased in another state that you did not pay sales tax on. Furthermore, if you paid say 5% sales tax to another state, you will have to pay Indiana 1.2% sales tax to make up the difference. Indiana sales tax is 6.2%. Can anyone else say unconstitutional and wrong? I sure can.

But recently, the state of incompetents gave me a farewell gift that takes the cake. In Indiana -- as in any other state -- you have to renew your license plate registration every year. The Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) is overwhelmingly incompetent. You do not want to go in there. I spent four hours there trying to get my new driver's license two years ago and a separate four hours getting the car registered. We decided to do mail in for our plate stickers this year. We made sure to send the money and registration info more than 30 days before the plates expired. As of two days ago, our plates expired and we had received no stickers in the mail. So, we were driving on expired plates because the state failed to send us the stickers. Luckily, and for once, the incompetence worked for us. The cops do not pull you over until December even if your plates expire in January. You can drive for months on expired plates in this state. As we will soon move out of state, we wanted this taken care of, however. I can guarantee the cops in another state might actually read the date on our stickers. So, our plates expired Monday. But the BMV does not open on Mondays and our schedules are too full on Tuesdays. We had to wait until today to get our stickers.

Indiana: you are a piece of crap. In the words of Christopher Walken, "you rat bastard!" I will not miss you. I will always remember you as The Crossroads of America: because when you get to Indiana you figure out which way to go to get out of it.


Amber said...

My dad - not that you have any reason to believe him - says that a lot of states have this as a voluntary sort of use tax. Of course they'd like you to pay them tax for out of state purchases, but unless it's something huge, like a car or boat, they'll never pursue the money.

I'm just repeating what he told me, since we have him do our taxes for us.

Esther said...

Hmm. Maybe. I looked for every way possible to get out of declaring the stuff and I did not notice any mention of voluntary. Maybe they just do not tell you it's voluntary to trick you into doing it. Rat bastards.

Matt said...

Agreed. Just ignore it. That is, unless you DID purchase a boat online... Esther, Does Craig know about the boat?

I'd have to say that many, many people don't know how to drive. Detroit is insane... seven cars passing through the left-turn light after it had already turned red comes to mind.

What hurts me the most about this state is the spelling. I have seen examples of the following: "onley" vs "only"; "Lot's for Rent" (apparently, someone named Lot is for rent?); People who fail to write the state name, but shorten it to "indps" -- that one, ouch. Lazy. Plus, it evokes the idea of being 'in deep poo' without meaning to do so.

It is an odd place, but no stranger than any other state I've visited. Plus they have Chik-Fil-A, but no Tim Hortons. *sad*

Xana Ender said...

Actually, Michigan says you have to report onlin purchases as well to pay sales tax on them. (although, maybe that's a new things) Or, if you cannot remember you pay a flat rate based on your annual income. (i.e. I make between 30,000-40,000 so I pay about $12 because I made online purchases I did not pay sales tax on)

If you buy tobacco it's worse. They have to report it to the MI Treasury and then Treasure sends you a notice "you owe $1,000 in tobacco taxes" and then they tack on crazy interest if you do not. Online tobacco places have to as well.

Mel Chickk said...

Wow, and I thought California was a crazy state!