Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Day We Almost Lost Alex

It was August 9, 2007. Two very serious gentlemen showed up at Yarnmarket. They arrived in an unmarked car. They carried official badges. They needed to speak to Alex.


Now the first thing that goes through my head when people with badges want to speak to Alex is that he’s going to be deported. But that couldn’t be right. He’s a US citizen. We don’t deport citizens. The next thing that goes through my head is that they’ve come to take me away -- and they don’t want Alex to fight with them as they put me in cuffs and escort me out of the building. Yeah…right. He’d be holding the squad car door open and smiling as they tossed me in!

It turned out that an anonymous citizen had reported us for tax violation and operating without a vendor’s license. Huh? We pay our taxes. You betcha. We pay them without so much as a whimper. (Okay, we do whimper a bit. And sometimes we shed a few tears. But rarely do we break down into uncontrollable sobs.)

So that wasn’t it. It wasn’t OUR taxes that weren’t being paid, but county taxes we’re supposed to be collecting from our customers in Ohio! Whaddya know? We’re supposed to charge county tax, too!

That means we probably haven’t collected from our customers…oh…a total of about four or five dollars in 2007. Now, don’t go getting yourselves into a panic. We’re going to take care of this lickety split so none of our customers go to jail. Of course, that means we’ll have to add some fragment of some percent to the state taxes our Ohio customers are already paying, depending on the county they live in, but we figure our customers are worth it. (Note to our Ohio Customers: If you want to avoid this addition to your Yarnmarket bill, please relocate to another state.)

As for the vendor’s license, of course we have one. Do they think we’re fools? (Apparently, yes.) Alex proudly displayed our vendor’s license and the officers wished him well before they headed out the door.

“Does this mean you aren’t going to hand cuff me?” Alex asked in disappointment as he followed closely behind. He’d been watching too many episodes of Law and Order.

“Uhh…no. Sorry, sir. Have a nice day.”

After the tax guys had left, we thought about what had happened. Now, it’s highly unlikely that one of our shoppers had phoned the government to say, “Hey, they’re operating without a license! And, what’s even worse, they didn’t even charge me county tax!!!” No one EVER reports it when they get away without paying taxes . I mean, that would be really nuts – even if they are just measly little county taxes.

So it had to be another store.

Geez…whoever thought that the field of yarn retailing was going to be a blood-thirsty, mud-slinging, dog-eat-dog, knock-‘em-down, drag-‘em-out battle with the authorities breathing down our neck? (Okay…two friendly guys shaking our hands and telling us to have a nice day, but you know what I mean.)

Whoever thought we’d be harassed and beaten and ordered to show our papers? (Okay…so they smiled and asked very nicely. It was still a horrible, traumatic ordeal!)

I need some ice cream loaded with hot fudge sauce and a mountain of whipped cream and a cherry. And a chocolate malted milkshake just to wash it down.

And to think I abandoned the relative serenity of high-speed, high-tech Corporate America for this!

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