Ever hear the classic circus theme song jingling as you confront yet another hilarious bureaucracy?
Of late, the Kid and I have been thinking about changing our little enterprise’s direction, away from working with individual journals and editors and toward government contracting. One of my spies in the real world asked if we would help with grant proposals for a nonprofit he directs, thereby causing a cash register to ring in the far, far distance. I had actually forgotten that in CE Desk’s previous incarnation, my business partner then — the late Phil Harrison, a bright light in the local marketing and “literary” scene — landed several juicy federal contracts for us. So long has it been, yes, that when we were canned from the Great Desert University I was so focused on the idea that we could simply continue to sell the service we were already providing that I didn’t even consider the possibility of resuscitating Phil’s approach.
Well, when the Kid heard about this, her ears perked right up. She started looking into it and realized we’re a woman-owned business and a totally small business and on and on, and then she got herself into the Federal Business Opportunities site, ran a couple of rudimentary searches, and lo! What should her eyes light upon but several jobs we could easily do.
I explained that these things are highly competitive; we could apply for ten and be lucky if we got one. She pointed out that since the Feds pay a fair rate (as opposed to what our current clients pay), if we landed just two contracts a year they would support us.
Yeah. So that’s what we’re looking at for 2018: hauling our little ship into a new wind.
LOL! This led to a reminder of WHY it is soooo good not to be working for a bloated bureaucracy.
To pull off the proposed shift in business plan, we will need to access databases available most conveniently at the Great Desert University (although I suspect we can get at them through the community colleges’ libraries, too). But I long ago lost my campus ID — required to use the libraries — and so didn’t have the retiree’s convenient version thereof. So the plan was to drive out to the nearest branch campus today, park for free in a credit union space, walk into the CU, extract a pocketful of cash, and then fly as fast as I can to get my picture re-taken and retrieve another piece of plastic to carry around.
Before leaving the house, I called GDU to find out where the desired bureaucratic office was. “In the ‘Welcome Center,’” said the underling who answered. Found two maps of the branch campus, neither of which gave a clue to the whereabouts of a “Welcome Center.” Called the office that dispenses these cards at said campus and reached (of course) a number on the main campus, whose proprietor informed me it was in the same building as the credit union. She thought. She connected me to the office itself, where a woman said it was in the same building as the credit union.
Convenient: makes it easy to cover up my little parking larceny.
Welp, the only other outfit sharing the building with the credit union is the parking authority. Bold as brass, I march in there, ask where the “Welcome Center” is, and am told by the kid at the desk that he doesn’t know but thinks it’s vaguely in the center of the campus. Having taught there many a year, I doubt that somehow.
I walk into the nursing office across the road and ask if they know where the “Welcome Center” is. A person there, very generous with her time, calls the main campus and gets a 15-minute telephone runaround. The best we can figure is that it IS the parking authority office.
So I hike back over there and find that the kid who told me to seek it somewhere in regions to the south IS himself the dispenser of Sun Cards! If I’d gone in the front door instead of the back door, I would have seen a sign on his desk to that effect; if I’d asked the right question (“Is this where I get a Sun Card,” not “Where is the ‘Welcome Center’”) I would have spared myself and my co-conspirator across the road that runaround.
He snaps my picture and generates the plastic. I ask if the university will take AMEX or if he needs Visa.
He says, “It’s free.”
I say, “They told me it was $25.” (Actually, one web page said it was $100.)
He says, “No, it’s free to retirees.”
I say, “Oooohhhhkayyyy,” smile engagingly, and shoot out the door before he or his boss can catch me.
😀 🙄 😀
As these shenanigans proceed, another SNAFU is under way at the credit union.
Yesterday after I return from the junket described above, WonderAccountant emails to say what’s this $1175 payment to Lilliput Mort?
“Huh?” I email back.
“It seems to be a recurring payment,” she returns.
She has downloaded 2017 credit union transactions for my personal and corporate accounts into QuickBooks and is trying to make enough sense out of them to fill out the requisite tax forms.
We study these phantom transactions and conclude that it’s some kind of fraud. I prepare to drive BACK up to the CU and alert them to whatever the phenomenon is, but point out to her that the electronic records I’ve downloaded myself — and presented to her in .csv format — do not contain any sign of these transactions, nor do the paper statements the CU sends.
Waaaaaitaminit… M’hijito and I have a joint account which he uses to collect funds for the mortgage payment on the downtown house. Could “Lilliput Mort” be some mortgage outfit to which the CU has sold his mortgage?
Now I break into that account and find, yea verily, he has been faithfully shelling out nearly twelve hundred dollah a month to some mortgage company in Lilliput.
When I report this to WonderAccountant, she realizes that somehow QuickBooks has engrossed the joint CU accounts along with my own, deciding — even though they’re clearly carried on the CU books as separate accounts — that they all most be one account owned by me.
So she went to work untangling that, eventually deciding to force QB to upload from the .csv files, a fairly simple procedure that (believe me!) is far from self-evident.
Time passes. Late last night in comes an e-mail from my son. “Did you withdraw $60 from my bank account?”
Huh? It is late. I am tired. The $60 figure sounds vaguely familiar, but why would I have raided his account? Whaaa?
It takes awhile, but finally it dawns on me: this is the amount I withdrew to create the illegal parking ruse.
I go into the shared account and see, yea verily, that figure has been withdrawn. I go into my account and see, nay verily, the CU flunky did NOT withdraw it from my checking account. She withdrew it from his account.
This, even though she had my debit card in hand!
So I had to transfer $60 out of my account into his. Which, of course, is why we created that joint account: to make it easy to transfer house-related funds back and forth. But…honest to God.
🙄 😀 🙄