Mightier Than The Pen

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I wanted to submit the proper forms to the municipal offices so that we would be eligible for a discount on tuition for our four-year-old. So I went with all the relevant documents I could muster, plus a few irrelevant ones just in case, and registered her for the upcoming academic year. When asked to produce evidence regarding my declared low income, I showed the one measly freelance contract that accounted for all my taxable income in 2010. They had me sign a declaration that I earned some pitifully small amount, and am therefore applying for a major discount. All was hunky dory.

Until a couple of weeks ago, when the municipality sent us a letter saying, “If you don’t send us Form X for 2008, Form Y for 2009 or Form Z for 2010 by date Q, you will not be eligible for the discount.” This perplexed me, as I was not in possession of Form X, Form Y or Form Z for any of those years, and was not quite sure how to obtain them.

Fortunately, I knew where the tax authority offices were (Location F), and hopped over there to find out whether they could provide me with them. I dutifully took a number and waited the requisite time it takes the clerks in Department G  to polish their nails before deigning to see us members of the public, and showed Clerk A the letter delineating what I needed. She said she couldn’t help me; her department could only issue Form W, which of course would not help. She recommended that I go downstairs to Clerk B in Department H to get Form V, which, although it does not declare an amount of income or of taxes paid, does certify that I do not have a file with the tax authority as an independent contractor or freelancer.

I had no idea how that would help, but I figured if I got my hands on that form and came back for further advice, they might offer some. So I descended into the bowels of the building and found Department H, only Clerk B was unwilling to see me, referring me instead to Clerk C in the next room, only Clerk C was in fact in a different room at the time, putting boxes of archival material in random stacks. In fact it only became clear that she was Clerk C when she entered Clerk C’s cubicle and sat at the desk. Whereupon she gave me the obligatory “What the hell are you doing here?” look that must be part of the training program (Course P).

I presented the letter again and explained my situation: I can’t get Forms X, Y or Z because my situation does not fit any of those forms, but the municipality will only accept X, Y or Z. Clerk C informs me that she can only give me Form V, but there’s no way I can get anything like what I’m after. I thanked her and returned to Department G, where I waited another half hour while the clerks took turns going on coffee break – Procedure O dictates that the break room be staffed at all times, and with only three clerks on duty, this proved quite a challenge. But eventually, they broke down and started handling visitors again. I prayed I would not have to deal with Clerk A again, lest she yell at me for misunderstanding that I could not accomplish what I wished, and was grateful to have my number called by Clerk D, who informed me that she could not issue anything like what I needed.

But I had considered that already, and countered with a request for Form U, which the same office had issued for me each year, in advance of my signing the contract, so could I just have a copy printed out? She shrugged and said OK, but it wouldn’t help; Form U, it seems, is pro forma, not the official numbers. Then she noticed that in 2008 I had processed the form at Location J, not Location F, so she could not print it out. Impossible, I replied; I was in the adjacent cubicle with Clerk E when I filed that form. She checked again and realized she was looking at the wrong entry, printed out the right form for me and sent me on my way. Time to find a fax machine.

The fax machine, however, was out of order, because the people in Department G had failed to complete Requisition K, so I went to a friend’s office across the street and sent along the documents, praying that they might do the job.

But of course I soon got a call from the municipality, in which Municipal Clerk L wondered aloud what the hell I was sending her, and didn’t I realize I was supposed to send Form X, Form Y or Form Z? Well, yes, I replied, I realized that quite clearly, only my status does not permit me to have any of those forms; nevertheless, my low income justifies the discount, and could you please just use whatever information I’ve sent you? After some talking past each other some more, we agreed that I should send her the pages of the freelance contract that specified the maximum amount I was to be paid in the contract year.

Except by now I was home, and nowhere near a fax machine. Time to start calling friends. Here’s how it went, and I swear I am not making any of this up:

Friend (actually relative) A: Uh, yeah, we have one, I think, but my husband’s out of town and I have no idea how to connect it.
Friend B: Sorry, the machine at our office was never connected.
Friend C: No, but you might try (completely random, ridiculous suggestion, i.e. Friend G)
Friend D: Receptionist said she’s in a meeting.
Friend E: No, sorry, we don’t have one, we’re staying with (Friend F, in a different part of town). Yes, they probably have one, but I’m not there right now, I’m actually at home, but we have no electricity for the last week and a half, so even if we did have one, you couldn’t use it now.
Friend H: Yes, I had one for about half an hour a few days ago, but I connected it to the wrong kind of transformer and fried it.

Desperate, I went out to the office of Friend D in case she could tolerate my walking in on her meeting, only she wasn’t there. So I wandered toward the house of Friend H, and along the way passed the house of Friend G, the one suggested by Friend C in a fit of insanity, and chanced it. Of course he had a fax, and one that worked just fine, thank you very much.

Municipal Clerk L called again, wondering why I’d sent those pages; didn’t I have something with more relevant information? We rehashed the situation several times more until she realized we were at an impasse: either the bureaucracy would have to yield, or I would. And I can be a pain to bureaucrats. Clerk L said she would work with what she had, and hope for the best.

I asked if she knew what forms to fill out to authorize hoping. She didn’t understand. I guess that wasn’t part of the training.

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Written by Thag

May 29, 2011 at 3:52 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Hooray! I successfully filled out Form C allowing me to comment on this post! Now, let us see if you can manage to fill out Form R, allowing you to reply.

    Shlomo

    May 29, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    • Sorry, this reply to the above comment has been rejected. Please refer to Form UP-YRS to appeal this decision.

      Thag

      May 29, 2011 at 5:23 pm

      • Sorry, your appeal has been rejected. To appeal this rejection of your previous appeal, please resubmit Form UP-YRS and attach Form CLSTR-FK, in triplicate.

        Thag

        May 30, 2011 at 2:49 pm


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