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Nothing Says Lovin’ Like Being a Curmudgeon

The columnist addresses the timeless question, “Where’s the beef?”

Man invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain. ~ Lily Tomlin

First of all, I’d like to squelch a malicious rumor that’s been circulating around town. Regardless of what you may have heard or seen, Iranian submarines have not been sighted off the coast of

Now that I’ve cleared that up we can continue.

I have a . I know that’s completely out of character for me [he said sarcastically], but everyone should vent once in a while. It’s good for the soul - and the blood pressure!

So, here’s my beef. I was driving down N. Worcester Street last Saturday morning when I came upon an extremely narrow section of the roadway jam-packed with cars on either side.

I’ve been on God’s green earth long enough to know that when one comes upon such a scene on a Saturday morning during good weather, it’s a sure sign there’s a yard sale in progress. My definition of a yard sale is people selling their unwanted junk to other people who neither need nor really want it, but who have no control over themselves. They’re yard sale junkies. They’re inflicted with a progressive, malevolent disease. They need intervention.

I slowed down to a crawl as the road was barely passable due to all the cars sticking out into the street. Just as I passed the driveway of the house where the yard sale was taking place, an older lady walked right out in front of me.

My first instinct, after stomping on my , was to lean on my horn, stick my head out the window and curse this lunatic up one side and down the other, but I didn’t want to give this poor, clueless soul a heart attack, so I just sat there behind the steering wheel, calling her nasty names in my head.

She meandered across the street at a snail’s pace, never cognizant of the fact that she had just come perilously close to visiting with her deceased ancestors. As oblivious as this woman appeared to be, it’s fortunate that our roles weren’t reversed with her being the driver and me being the pedestrian. I’d have been mincemeat.

I hope this woman reads , though she probably will have no clue I’m talking about her. She was totally separated from reality – captivated by the thrill of the hunt for weathered old knick knacks.

Just in case she does read this, I want to ask a question. Hey lady! Do you really think it’s worth risking life and limb for some two-bit dust collector that used to belong to someone’s Aunt Hilda?

Since I seem to be on a roll [which explains the butter on my pants] I may as well address a few more of the things that have frosted my butt over the past couple of weeks.

The concept of the Excise Tax annoys the heck out of me. We’re basically paying a tax on something we’ve purchased in the past upon which we have already paid a sales tax. So an Excise Tax is a tax imposed upon something you’ve already been taxed on. Sounds fair to me!

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I have to pay this ridiculous tax, whether I want to or not, and regardless of whether or not I think it’s fair, which I don’t.

A few weeks ago, I received the excise tax on my vehicle and chose to take the option to pay it online. This seemed like a good idea to me. It saves me having to drive over to the and ostensibly saves the Town of Easton money and resources because a clerk doesn’t have to take time away from whatever they’re doing to deal with me and the thousands of other taxpayers who would otherwise have to make the annual pilgrimage to the town hall.

I went to the town website, found the proper link for Excise Tax payments, input my debit card info and clicked ‘Pay’. This took me to the next page where I was informed that I’d have to pay a $3.95 service fee for the privilege of paying my taxes in a timely fashion.

Okay, now I was ripped! It’s bad enough I have to pay a tax on a tax, but now I have to pay a service fee on top of it. I considered driving to the town offices where I guarantee you I would have laid into the poor clerk who had the bad fortune to wait on me – but I didn’t. I paid the fee, but I wasn’t happy about it! I feel so dirty!

This seems like the same scam the banks ran on us a few years back when ATMs were going to save ‘time and money’ by freeing up the bank tellers to do more important work. Well, the formerly free ATMs have implemented fees that have increased exponentially over the years.

My bank started charging fees that I was unaware of until I received a bank statement with four $6 charges for making transactions at the teller window. Can you imagine? So much for human interaction, and so much for that bank. I closed my account that afternoon.

I have a post office box for my business. I pay the fee for that privilege twice a year. I’d pay annually, but in their infinite wisdom, the post office doesn’t offer a discount for paying that way. The annual fee is the same whether it’s paid every six months or once a year, which is probably, in part, why the post office is billions of dollars in the hole and sinking fast - poor marketing and business management skills.

Not long ago, I received my P.O. box bill for the upcoming six months. My six-month rate went from $22 to $29! That’s about a 26 percent increase. Apparently, I’m supporting the bail out of the U.S. Postal Service, which is exactly what they should do – bail out!

Out of control food costs, sky-rocketing gasoline prices, rising medical and prescription expenses, ever-increasing cable costs, soaring utility rates – where does it end?

I was hoping to have something stashed away for my Golden Years. The problem is, everyone else is mining all the gold - and I’m getting the shaft!

Make it a great week!

Bob Havey is an Easton-based freelance writer and a consummate trouble-maker. His column, The Way I See It, runs every other Wednesday at Norton Patch.

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